You know it’s the week of Christmas when Jason Marquis leads the day’s news and Dusty Ryan comes in second. But believe it or not, there were some transactions that registered even lower on the Richter (Richar?) scale than those:
The Marlins sign infielder Danny Richar: One of six guys from the Dominican Republic named “Danny”; Richar was once traded for Ken Griffey, Jr., which is the kind of thing a sharp young man could turn into a career of speeches at Rotary Club luncheons if he plays his cards right; A game-worn Richar jersey can be had for $125, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get it by Christmas;
The Indians signed reliever Saul Rivera: The 32 year-old reliever was something of a horse for the Nats for the past few years, pitching in 76 games in 2008 and 85 the year before, but he was sent down to AAA last season before being released in December. I can only assume Manny Acta told Mark Shapiro to go get him, preferring bullpen canon fodder he knows to bullpen canon fodder he doesn’t know;
The Pirates signed Javier Lopez: Finally, after seven seasons I had broken myself of thinking of the former Braves catcher Javy Lopez when his name is mentioned. Then the Pirates go and sign him and my first thought its “Ya know what? I could picture Pittsburgh signing the old catcher instead of the reliever. Did he get three years? If so, you know it was the catcher.”
We’ll break into programming with an emergency redball update if anything as big as these three things goes down for the remainder of the day.
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.
Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.
In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”
Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.
Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.