Triple-A ump Muchlinski a Twin killer

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In all of its glory, here is the brutal call at home plate that ended Monday’s Twins-Athletics game.

Cuddyer is safe in scoring the game-tying run, of course, but Mike
Muchlinski, a Triple-A ump filling in for a vacationing major league
counterpart, got himself in lousy position and blew the call.

What makes this particularly disgusting is that Muchlinski knew
exactly what was materializing. He clearly took a peek towards third
when Cuddyer was rounding the bag — he knew there was going to be a
play at home — yet he still did his best Brandon Phillips imitation
while loafing over to where he was in an awful position to make the
game-determining call.

And the positioning is as much of a problem as the laziness. It’s
ridiculous how often umpires let themselves be screened on plays at the
plate. Unfortunately, the best place to make those calls from would be
in fair territory, right at the top of the circle. We never see umpires
there, though, and for good reason most of the time. Still, wouldn’t it
make a lot more sense to set up on the first-base line except when the
throw is coming in from right field? Muchlinski doesn’t blow that call
if he’s three feet to the right. He probably wouldn’t have blown it if
he was a couple of feet to the left, as he would have had a better view
between Michael Wuertz’s legs. Delmon Young, the hitter on the wild
pitch, has no formal training and was in a much better position to see
the play.

Muchlinski, though, didn’t set up anywhere. He was still moving even
as the tag wasn’t being made. He only stopped to make his impressively
elaborate out call, complete with the arched-back load-up and powerful
right hook to the ground. It was the type of punch out that’s sure to
get him noticed if MLB ever again hires a full-time ump. He’ll certainly have A’s fans on his side.

Hyun-Jin Ryu will open season in Dodgers’ rotation

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will open the regular season in the starting rotation, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports.

Ryu, 30, missed the entire 2015 season and made only one start last season due to shoulder and elbow injuries. The lefty has looked solid in three spring appearances, however, yielding a lone run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine innings.

With Scott Kazmir likely to begin the season on the disabled list, that leaves Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.