Top 100 Baseball Blog

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Baseball Historian's Notes for April 29, 2013

The length of a baseball team’s disabled list can have such a strong impact on the outcome of their season. Injuries not only deprive teams of talented players, but alter the chemistry that was so carefully constructed during the offseason and spring training.

The ability of backup players, minor league prospects and the length of time needed for the injured to come back healthy can all determine whether or not a season will be derailed. Just a month into the 2013 season, a number of major league teams have felt the pinch of losing players to the DL. The scrambling has already begun for some to overcome a fractured roster.

***Perhaps no team has been quite so devastated by injuries this season than the New York Yankees. They were already missing the bulk of their starting lineup, with Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson all sidelined for significant periods of time, when they lost a couple more players last week. They placed starting catcher Francisco Cervelli with a broken hand and starting pitcher Ivan Nova with triceps inflammation on the 15-day disabled list.

Considered to have some of the deepest pockets of any franchise in baseball, even the Yankees are struggling to cobble together a competitive team in light of all the injuries. Young Austin Romine, who has all of 19 major league at-bats, will fill in for Cervelli (himself no star player), while David Phelps, the team’s long man will likely take Nova’s spot in the rotation.

New York has jumped out with an early winning record but their ability to maintain that success has to be in doubt with so many high-impact players on the shelf. In the meantime, they must be hoping to staunch the bleeding and avoid any further injuries.

***The Los Angeles Dodgers is the other high-profile team that has been devastated by injuries this season. They have already had to use nine different starting pitchers through their first 24 games because of 3/5 of their Opening Day starting rotation currently residing on the disabled list.

Although it won’t help their pitching, the team did get some good news when shortstop Hanley Ramirez started a minor league rehab assignment. The veteran tore a thumb ligament in March while playing in the World Baseball Classic for his native Dominican Republic. It was originally anticipated he could be out as long as late May or early June, but he has made a remarkably quick recovery and could be back in the next week or so. His return can’t come soon enough because his replacement, Justin Sellers, has hit a punchless .224, while struggling in the field.

***At the opposite end of the health spectrum is Conrad “Connie” Marrero, the major league’s oldest living former player. A native of Cuba, the former pitcher recently turned 102, and talked about his career in an excellent article by ESPN Deports’ Damian L. Delgado-Averhoff.

Living in Havana, the centurion is still a national hero and possesses an excellent memory of his time in baseball. Despite being just 5’5” and 158 pounds, he was an effective right-handed pitcher, who got his first shot at the major leagues with the Washington Senators in 1950 at the age of 39. He went on to go 39-40 with a 3.67 ERA in 118 games over five seasons. He went 11-9 in 1951, and at the age of 40, became the oldest first-time All-Star when he was named to that year’s mid-summer classic (although he didn’t appear in the game).

Still enjoying the occasional cigar, Marrero keeps plugging away. Despite his 102 years, he is still going strong and enjoying the game that he made his career.

***Detroit Tigers’ right-handed start Anibal Sanchez had the most impressive start of the young season, striking out a team record 17 batters in a 10-0 victory against the Atlanta Braves last week. The 17 punch outs bested the team’s previous high mark of 16, set by left-hander Mickey Lolich twice in 1969. 

Sanchez was removed after the eighth inning because his pitch count had risen to 121. Having already thrown a no-hitter in 2006 while a member of the Florida Marlins, he is no stranger to strong pitching performances.’s Jay Jaffe broke down Sanchez’s dominance against the Braves, which included throwing 27 pitches that elicited swings and misses.

Signing with Detroit this past offseason to an $80 million deal, Sanchez has gotten off quickly, going 3-1 with a 1.34 ERA in his first five starts. With Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer ahead of him in the rotation, it may be tempting to view Sanchez as a mid-rotation starter, but the 29-year-old is serving notice that he may be an ace in his own right.

***Last week’s lighter moment definitely belongs to Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett. In a game against the St. Louis Cardinals, the right-hander didn’t realize his catcher Russell Martin was trying to throw out John Jay, who was attempting to steal second base. The humorous misunderstanding became apparent in a very unusual play.

*** This week there is an additional bonus of lighter fare. Players have a wide variety of habits to keep them focused in the field, from chewing gum to scratching initials in the dirt. Cleveland Indians’ second baseman Jason Kipnis is no different in his own unique way. This clip from 2012 may be a bit old, but check out how he channels the singer Adele while manning his position in the field.


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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lewis Brinson is Up Next for the Texas Rangers

When star outfielder Josh Hamilton left the Texas Rangers to sign with the divisional rival Los Angeles Angels this past offseason, it was believed the team would struggle to find his replacement. After all, the former MVP has 162 game averages of .320 with 35 home runs and 120 RBI during his career.

While it may take a little time, the Rangers may already have Hamilton’s replacement in their system. His name is Lewis Brinson, and he is one of the best young players in the minor leagues.

He was a star for Coral Springs High School in Florida. According to an article by’s T.R Sullivan, he hit .394 as a senior with four home runs, 21 RBI and 11 stolen bases.

The slender right-handed passed on a scholarship to the University of Florida when the Rangers made him their first-round choice (29th overall selection) in last year’s draft.

A.J. Preller, the Rangers director of player development gushed to Sullivan about the team’s find. “I definitely think in Lou Brinson, we have a tremendous body. A 6-foot-4, 190-pound center fielder that's a plus run, plus throw. We think he's going to stay in the middle of the field. We really think we have a five-tool type talent with a chance to hit and hit with some power.”

Brinson started his professional career in fine fashion. After signing, he was assigned to Texas’ rookie league team in Airzona. He appeared in 54 game, hitting .283 with seven home runs, 42 RBI, 22 doubles, seven triples and 14 stolen bases.

Before this season,’s Keith Law named Brinson as the Rangers’ fifth-best prospect in one of his Insider features. He was particularly impressed with the work the youngster had put in since being drafted:

I was blown away by the changes Lewis Brinson made to his swing over the summer, setting up his hands a little lower and further back while shortening his stride, significantly improving his bat speed through the zone without any loss of power. His pitch recognition needs work, but he's got easy power from his hand strength, and as a plus runner who covers a lot of territory in center, he has star potential if he can show some mastery over the strike zone.

Still just 18, Brinson was aggressively assigned to Single-A to start the 2013 season. While he has had some struggles, the talent is very obvious. He has played in 18 games and hit .231 with two home runs, eight RBI and four steals. On the down side, he has also struck out 30 times in 78 at-bats, offering proof that he is still adapting to the higher level of competition.

Brinson has a ways to go, but is clearly in the future plans of the Rangers. Replacing a player of Hamilton’s caliber can be a tall order, but the prospect looks like he could be up to the task.

This past offseason, Brinson graciously took the time to answer some of my questions. Continue reading to find out more about this exciting young player.

Lewis Brinson Interview:

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: My favorite player growing up was Juan Pierre, mostly because he played my position and at the time played for my favorite team, the Marlins. Really, he just stood out to me with his amazing speed.  

You carry the label of a five-tool player; prior to the draft which of those tools did scouts/teams seem most interested in?: Scouts mostly were interested in my speed. I mean obviously other things stood out to them, but my mostly my speed. 

How difficult was your decision to not attend the University of Florida?: Very difficult. I mean they are ranked number one in the country, who wouldn't want to go there and play for a great coach like coach Sully? It wasn't an easy decision, but I knew what my ultimate goal was, so pro ball was the way to go. 

Your dad passed away when you were younger, how much influence did your mom have on your baseball development?: Like I tell everybody that ever asks me that question, she's my biggest fan. Without her there is no way I would be where I'm at today. She has been unbelievable. 

Can you describe what your 2012 draft day experience was like?: Wow is all I can say to describe draft day. It was probably the best day of my life thus far. I was speechless that night. 

What were the biggest challenges you faced during your first professional season?: The biggest challenges were probably getting used to playing every day for three months straight and getting adjusted to speed of the game from high school. 

How difficult was your transition from metal to wooden bats?: Umm, not difficult at all. I loved hitting with wood bats. I actually asked my coach in high school if I could use wood during the season. He wasn't buying into the idea though, haha

If you could do one thing differently from this past season, what would that be and why?: That's a easy one. I would worry more about the things that I could control instead of worrying about things that I couldn't control. 


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Monday, April 22, 2013

The Baseball Historian's Notes for April 22, 2013

Other sports like football and basketball may have infringed on the popularity of baseball over the years, but make no mistake about it, the game is still America’s National Pastime. Baseball personifies Amercianism and is often seen as an example of what is right and good in the country. While that may be a Pollyanna way of viewing the sport, it is a unifying force in society that cannot be claimed in the same way by the NFL, NBA or NHL.

Any baseball game can provide people with a positive reminder of what it is to be an American, or how much the game can infiltrate everyday life. However, there are also those special moments that spring up out of nowhere that leaves little doubt about the influence of baseball on our culture. Some of those moments showed up this week…

***Saturday’s Boston Red Sox game against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park in Boston was one of the best regular season showings in recent memory. Before the game, the Red Sox honored the victims, survivors and first responders of last week’s Boston Marathon bombing tragedy. The celebration was capped by a brief impromptu speech by slugger David Ortiz, who was appearing in his first game since last August because of injury. Despite the use of a four-letter word, Ortiz encapsulated the feelings of many in the community and whipped the fans into a frenzy before the first pitch. The moment was so apropos that Julius Genachowski, the FCC’s notoriously curmudgeonly chairman, took to Twitter to voice his support of the on-air profanity.

The game itself was like something out of a Hollywood production, with an emotional and exuberant crowd seemingly willing the team to victory. Clay Buchholz looked like he would take his first loss of the season, despite throwing eight strong innings, until outfielder Daniel Nava put the team up for good with a dramatic three-run home run.

Legendary singer Neil Diamond, whose song “Sweet Caroline” has been a staple at Fenway for years, made a surprise appearance and led the crowd in a live rendition during the game.

All-in-all, the game was a spectacular reminder of the power of the human spirit and the role that baseball can play in providing comfort to people in times of difficulty. If there were any doubts that baseball is still the national pastime, this game should be used as an example to put that ridiculous notion to bed for good.

***Cincinnati Reds’ infielder Todd Frazier provided another baseball-related feel-good moment. Ted Kremer, a young man with Down syndrome, was able to be the Reds’ batboy for a game last year after his parents won a silent auction. He and the team enjoyed the experience so much that he was invited back to serve in the role again in a game against the Miami Marlins.

Kremer asked Frazier to hit him a home run, and the third baseman went out and did just that in an 11-1 victory. The reaction of Kremer, Frazier and the team afterwards was priceless and a reminder of how much impact one play can have, both on and off the field.

***In other news, with Daniel Nava off to a hot start for the Red Sox, there hasn’t been much playing time for outfielder Mike Carp, who was acquired from the Seattle Mariners during the offseason. His first start of the season didn’t come until April 17 against the Cleveland Indians, but he made up for all his down time by accomplishing something historic. According to a tweet by ESPN researcher Jeremy Lundblad, the left-handed hitter became the first Red Sox player to record three extra-base hits in three plate appearances in a game since Babe Ruth accomplished the feat in 1917. Carp had two doubles and a triple in Boston’s 6-3 win. Naturally, it took nearly a week for him to get another start.

***Speaking of historic, Milwaukee Brewers’ shortstop Jean Segura accomplished something in a game last week that has never happened before in the history of baseball. After reaching base in the eighth innings of a game against the Chicago Cubs, he stole second base, was picked off second, stole first base, and finished up by getting thrown out trying to steal second again. Sound confusing? It actually happened, so check out the details here.

***It was announced last week that New York Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter, out with a broken ankle since last year’s playoffs, will now be sidelined until at least the All-Star break with a new crack in his ailing foot.

The Yankees are already missing a number of key veterans, including Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez. Losing Jeter for an extended period of time will only make the season that more difficult for New York.

Soon to be 39, Jeter was looking to end his Hall of Fame career strongly, after batting .316 with a league-leading 216 hits last season. He is just outside the top-10 all-time in categories like hits (3,304) and runs scored (1,868). It was wondered how much he could add to those totals before having to call it a career. Instead, it appears it will be a struggle to just get him back on the field again. It remains to be seen what he will have left after such a lengthy layover and severe injury, but at the very least, he is one player you wouldn’t want to bet against.

***There is an interesting situation developing in Washington. Nationals’ third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was just placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained hamstring. Even before the injury, he was struggling, having committed four throwing errors and generally looking like he had a case of the yips in the field because of the number of bad throws he has made to first base this season.

Prospect Anthony Rendon was summoned from the minors to take Zimmerman’s roster spot. The 22-year-old is considered an intriguing young player with a bright future. Despite being the fifth overall selection in the 2011 draft, he has played just a total of 57 minor league games since then because of injuries. He has a knack for being able to get on base, and also has 20+ home run potential. Finally healthy, he is being given a chance to see what he can do.

Depending on what happens, Washington could find itself in a sticky spot. Zimmerman signed a huge extension with the team during the 2012 offseason and is owed a minimum of $104 million through the 2020 season. If his problems in the field continue, the Nats have too much tied up in him to not try and find a solution. But with Adam LaRoche locked into a two-year contract at first base through 2014, there is seemingly no place for him to go. Stay tuned on this one.


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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

American Jews & America's Game: A Review

Baseball is so much more than the action on the field and in the box scores. Untold numbers of people have used the game to help shape who they are, and connect them with their ethnicities and national identities on whole new levels. Larry Ruttman’s American Jews & America’s Game: Voices of a Growing Legacy in Baseball (University of Nebraska Press) narrows that impact down to the influence the national pastime has had on American Jews, and visa-versa.

Ruttman, a longtime lawyer, who found his authorial voice in retirement, has combined an extensive collection of interviews with his own research to demonstrate the ongoing Judaic-baseball relationship. At 510 pages, he has attempted to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of telling the most complete story possible.

Having previously taught a college course on the art of interviewing, Ruttman puts his experience to use in conducting dozens of interviews with a variety of subjects who speak about their experiences with Judaism, baseball, and how the two have intertwined.

The attempt and success at providing a comprehensive view of the topic is one of the strongest suits of the book. Additionally, the roster of interviewees is impressive. Al Rosen, Congressman Barney Frank, Marvin Miller, Theo Epstein and Kevin Youkilis are highlights of those who Ruttman was able to get to sit down and talk about baseball and Judaism. He also balances the better known personalities with much more obscure figures, such as Martin Abramowitz, who produces his own set of baseball cards for Jewish players, and attorney Alan Dershowitz of O.J. Simpson trial fame, who is also apparently a big baseball fan.

Ruttman makes sure to have comprehensive sections on Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax, undoubtedly two of the greatest Jewish baseball figures of all time. While Greenberg passed away in the 1980’s, Koufax proved to be just as elusive in this project. He spoke with Ruttman over the phone, but refused to do a formal interview, explaining, “I don’t want to do the interview. I have gotten to the age at which I decided not to do anything that I don’t want to do.” Despite the lack of direct material, both players are given due justice.

Occasionally, Ruttman does let his inner fan get carried away in the form of trying to ask leading questions. In one memorable instance, he asked Congressman Frank to discuss the leading off-field Jewish figures in baseball. When Frank responded that he couldn’t think of anyone, Ruttman suggests commissioner Bud Selig as a possibility. This innocent leading question earned him the sharp rebuke of “If you don’t like my answer, don’t suggest an answer—That’s not good journalism!”

The author’s enthusiasm at trying to get the type of answers he is looking for is good-natured but unnecessary. His interview subjects weave a rich tapestry connecting Judaism and baseball through their own memories. The occasional prodding for an answer suggests that Ruttman is seeking a specific answer, when in fact, reality more than suffices.

On the other hand, a strength of Ruttman’s interviewing technique is the consistency in which he asks similar questions to his subjects. He is most interested in how Judiasm and baseball have shaped their lives, hoping to draw connection between the two. Many actually divulge that their faith has been intermittent throughout their lives, while baseball has much more often been a steadier influence.

In the end, Ruttman can claim two primary accomplishments from American Jews & America’s Game.

He shows the impact baseball can have on people that extends well beyond the confines of the diamond. It also has an impressive reach into lives that many wouldn’t expect of a simple game played with a bat and a ball.

He can also be proud of his sheer compilation of material. First-person or oral histories are an integral part of preserving the past and encapsulating the emotion and detail that cannot be extracted later on from artifacts and second-person written material. The connection of Judaism and baseball may be a broad and somewhat confusing thesis, but readers should be left with little doubt about the relationship once they are done with this book.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of the book being reviewed by the publisher, but received no payment or other consideration for this review.


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Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Baseball Historian's Notes for April 14, 2013

The 2013 baseball season has gotten off to a rollicking start. From Yu Darvish’s near-perfect game to the exciting emergence of young players like New York Mets’ pitcher Matt Harvey, there has been a lot of good stuff for fans to digest. For all the fun baseball provides, the game also sometimes has a darker side. This week seemed to have ongoing negativity popping up around baseball. Hopefully these moments represent the worst the season will experience and fans can get back to enjoying some great action.

***In the big story from last week, Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Zack Greinke hit San Diego Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin with a pitch. Quentin charged the mound and in the melee, Greinke broke his collarbone and will miss the next  two months.

Dodgers’ star outfielder Matt Kemp seemed to be the angriest person in the entire brawl. It took several minutes to calm him down, sort out the mess and eject the appropriate players before the game could resume. It wasn’t finished there, as Kemp confronted Quentin in the players’ parking lot after the game and had to be restrained by an on-duty police officer.

Greinke and Quentin have a divisive history going back several seasons. Grantland’s Jonah Keri did an excellent job of breaking down the brawl and going over what led up to the unfortunate incident.
Quentin was suspended eight games but many have said he deserves to be out until Greinke can return.

Nobody but Greinke can say for certain if the pitch was intentional, but generally speaking, brawls in baseball are stupid. They serve no purpose other than putting testosterone-fueled bravado on display and making grown men look like petulant children on a playground. MLB needs to take note and develop a harsher strategy in dealing with this problem. The NBA and their zero-tolerance policy for players leaving the bench during a game may be a good starting point for such a policy.

***The Toronto Blue Jays’ hopes for contending this season took a major hit on Friday when shortstop Jose Reyes severely sprained his ankle sliding into second base on a stolen base attempt. The replay of the injury was gruesome, and Reyes was in tears as he was attended to on the field. A subsequent MRI showed no structural damage, but the sprain was bad enough that he is expected to be out of action until the All-Star break.

Reyes was the centerpiece of a massive trade this past offseason with the Miami Marlins that reinvigorated Toronto’s roster for a presumed playoff run. Although the team was just 4-6 at the time of his injury, his .395 batting average and five stolen bases led the team. His extended absence will be a huge blow, so the team will have to try and stay on track until their star can return.

***The Oakland A’s, off to a scorching 9-4 start, lost one of their best players when outfielder Yoenis Cepsedes was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle in his hand after making an awkward catch. Perhaps the team’s best all-around player, his presence in the lineup will be missed.
The 26-year-old Cuban was hitting .200 with three home runs and seven RBI at the time of his injury.

It may be too soon to start assigning labels, but Cespedes missed 33 games last season and is already making a trip to the DL in his second year as a major leaguer. He is so important to Oakland that hopefully he can shake what is becoming an alarming trend of injuries.

***The honeymoon appears to be over for new Boston Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan. Acquired this past offseason in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he was expected to lock down the ninth inning for Boston after suffering through the inconsistencies of Andrew Bailey and Alfredo Aceves last year.

Hanrahan has been horrible so far in 2013, allowing three walks and three home runs in just 4.2 innings, while sporting an 11.57 ERA. The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham tweeted that he has permitted 11 of the 25 batters he has faced to reach base.

Although Hanrahan had 36 saves and a 2.72 ERA last year with the Pirates, other numbers suggest he actually had a poor season. His walks and home runs allowed per nine innings were his highest since his rookie season. Additionally, indicates his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) was 4.45. That number seeks to evaluate a pitcher’s performance if pitching with a league-average defense. Hanrahan’s mark is considered well below average.

Initially, Boston manager John Farrell emphatically stated no change would be in the offing. However, it was announced the following day that an ailing hamstring was affecting Hanrahan’s mechanics and that Bailey would be taking over for a few days to give him a break.

***Now, for a lighter moment. In the age of the internet, dozens, if not hundreds, of fans are embarrassed annually when video footage of them flubbing catching a ball in the stands is put on full display. Quite the opposite happened for Johnny Turk, who made a jaw-dropping play on a foul ball at a Seattle Mariners-Houston Astros game last week.

Loathe to drop a beverage he undoubtedly spent a pretty penny on, Turk instead used his plastic cup of beer as an impromptu glove to make the catch. He then proceeded to down contents of his cup (minus the ball) amid uproarious cheers from the Seattle crowd.

Offering further proof that this is the age of the internet,’s Jim Caple reported that by the time of the first pitch of the Mariners’ game the following day, Turk had already launched a website that was selling t-shirts commemorating his catch for $22 (or about 20 ounces of beer at an average MLB game). 


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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Baseball Notes for April 7, 2013

Not surprisingly, the first week of the 2013 major league season got off to a roaring start, teasing fans with the promise of the exciting action to come. Players and teams are already making their marks, indicating that they are forces to be reckoned with. Conversely, there are others also off to alarming starts. What it all means for fans is an overload of story lines and exciting game action that will run its course over the next six months. Some of the most interesting stories from last week include:

***Texas Rangers’ pitcher Yu Darvish lost a bid for a perfect game in the second contest of the season, when he allowed a clean single up the middle to his 27th and final batter of the night, Marwin Gonzalez of the Houston Astros. The Japanese right-hander had been in complete control, striking out 14 though 8.2 innings until giving up the hit that knocked him from the game.

Gonzalez was destined to be Darvish’s last batter of the game anyways, as Texas manager Ron Washington claimed he had already decided to remove him from the game regardless of the outcome of that at-bat.

Although Washington publically proclaimed his intention to remove Darvish because of his rising pitch count, it’s doubtful he would have actually followed through on it if Gonzalez had only walked. No-hitters and perfect games are rare occurrences, and Darvish finished with only 111 total pitches, so it’s not like he was in a danger zone.

***Left-handed slugger Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles got off to a blistering start by hitting four home runs and driving in 16 runs in his first four games. By doing so, he joined Willie Mays, Mark McGwire and Nelson Cruz as the only players to homer in the first four games of a season.

Davis is picking up exactly where he left off last season. In his final seven regular season games of 2012 and his first four games of 2013, he combined for 11 home runs and 29 RBI. By comparison, the Miami Marlins scored a total of just 20 runs as a team during that same 11-game stretch.

***Unsurprisingly, star outfielder Josh Hamilton received a less than welcoming reception upon playing his first game in Arlington, Texas as a member of the Los Angeles Angels.

Hamilton spent the previous five seasons with the Rangers, making the All-Star team each year and winning an MVP award in 2010. Fans were disappointed to not only lose him, but to see him sign with the divisional rival Angels.

The heckling of the fans got so bad that Hamilton’s wife had to reach out to ballpark security. It’s a shame to see fans so disgracefully. While losing a popular player can be a tough blow, there is never any excuse for behaving in a threatening and inappropriate manner. Those who do only confirm to their target that choosing another team was the right decision.

***Some players are just snake bitten when it comes to injuries. Pitching against the Toronto Blue Jays in his first game since 2011, Boston Red Sox right-hander John Lackey was making an impressive return from Tommy John surgery when he had to be removed after completing his 76th pitch of the day and walked off the mound clutching his throwing arm in obvious pain.

Lackey had pitched well leading up to his removal, allowing five hits and two runs in 4.1 innings, while striking out eight and walking just one. After the game, the team announced the right-hander had suffered a biceps strain but would be headed back to Boston for tests. After the initial scare, Lackey seemed relieved that it was likely not something too serious, but was awaiting further word.

If Lackey is out for an extended period of time, it will be a shame. After being much-maligned during the first few years in Boston, he returned from his surgery in fantastic shape and ready to hold a spot in the back of the Red Sox’s rotation. Alfredo Aceves will likely replace Lackey in the immediate future. Hopefully Lackey will return before long, but if not, a prospect like Allen Webster may be brought up from the minors to take the starting role and push Aceves back to the bullpen.

***Atlanta Braves’ first baseman Freddie Freeman is hopping mad over being recently placed on the 15-day disabled list for a strained oblique muscle. The young slugger, who hit a scorching .417 with seven RBI during his first five games, believes his upcoming imposed inactivity was unnecessary and wishes the team had consulted him first. He had some choice words when asked about his thoughts on how the matter was handled, exclaiming, “They didn’t give me a choice.”

It’s rare for such matters to publically come to light, and making an up-and-coming star like Freeman unhappy is never a good sign. It appears that the Braves were being cautious and trying to avoid losing one of their best players for an extended period of time down the road, but this situation bears watching.


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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tanner Murphy: Trying to Catch on with the Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles may appear to be set at catcher for the foreseeable future with Matt Wieters behind the plate, but in baseball it’s never a good idea to plan too far ahead. Like any smart team, Baltimore continues to cultivate catching prospects, with Tanner Murphy being one of the young players they are most excited about.

The left-handed hitting Murphy was a prep star with Mount Ridge High School in Glendale, Arizona, posting a .370 batting average with 26 RBI as a senior. The Orioles chose him in the 22nd round of the 2010 MLB Draft, signed him and sent him to the Gulf Coast League to begin his professional career.

Unfortunately, three years into his career, Murphy hasn’t taken off as quickly as hoped. He has been slowed by injuries, particularly a major elbow surgery in 2011 on his throwing arm. Because of these setbacks, he has appeared in only a total of 56 professional games during his first three seasons; all spent in the Gulf Coast League. During that time, he has combined for a .201 batting average and 17 RBI.

Still just 20, Murphy needs consistent playing time to see where he is in his development and continue to grow. If he is healthy this season, it could be a pivotal year for the prospect, as he seeks to prove he belongs and that he has been worth Baltimore’s patience. He will likely start this season in the low minors, but if he plays well, there’s no telling how where he could end up by the end of the year.

Last year, I was able to connect with Murphy and ask him some questions about his baseball career. It’s obvious he is committed to the game and following through on his goal of playing in the major leagues. Check out what he had to say and make sure to keep track of him once his 2013 season is underway.

Tanner Murphy Interview:

Who were your favorite team and player when you were growing up, and why?: Growing up my favorite player was Ken Griffey Jr. because he was amazing to watch at anything he did in the game.

Can you describe what your draft day experience was like?: Draft day was amazing. I will not ever forget that day. I remember being around my family and they were so happy. I wouldn’t have traded that feeling for anything!

How many teams were in contact with you during your high school career?: From what I knew I talked to two, but other teams I heard from was around five or something in that range.

Have you noticed or been informed of any organizational differences since Dan Duquette was named the Orioles new GM?: Yes, many things are changing for the better! Whatever happens though will not affect how hard I work and try to improve.

How difficult is it for a minor league player to keep moving forward and persevere through all the competition and adversity?: Very difficult! But as in anything, it’s only as difficult as you make it, so for me I’m willing and going to work hard and improve and repeat day in and day out to get to the next level.

If you could do anything differently about your baseball career to date, what would that be?: Nothing, really. Everything happens for a reason. There’s things that happen I think are a bummer, but in this game you have to have a short memory and move on. 

What have your experiences been like in during your time in the Gulf Coast League?: It’s a grind  and it’s the hardest place to play by far. It is early days and hot and sticky. It’s great though being able to have all the facility-wise things available.

Have you had any experiences yet with Cal Ripken?: No I haven’t yet, but I would love the opportunity. 


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