David Ortiz, on playing defense for interleague games in NL parks:
I just feel so embarrassed when I do something wrong out there.
You’ve got a guy pitching his ass off out there and you just feel bad.
Nothing happened, but you feel like, “What the hell am I doing?” The
tough one is when you have to throw to the pitcher, because pitchers,
you know, they’re really not good fielders.
My mentality when I’m out there is like, “I’m a Gold Glover.” I was
pretty good at defense until I got humongous. I got to the big leagues
and I gained like 30 pounds, and we had [Doug] Mientkiewicz over there,
and he was a Gold Glover. Then I got here and we had like 20 first
basemen. Next thing I know I was DH-ing, and that’s it. People always
make a big deal about first basemen, but most of ’em stink, anyway.
They just hit.
Ortiz always struck me as a reasonably capable first baseman during his
time in Minnesota–surprisingly nimble, good at scooping low
throws–but as he notes that was quite a few pounds ago. Ultimate Zone
Rating pegs him as 1.9 runs below average over 880 innings at first
base since arriving in Boston in 2003, which is certainly far from
disastrous (although his recent UZR numbers are dreadful).
As for the above quote, he’s spot-on about everything except for gaining 30 pounds. I’ll take the over on that.
Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.
It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.
At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”
Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.