When productive veteran outfielders like Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye are having trouble finding work it makes sense that not-so-productive veteran outfielders like Darin Erstad may be headed for retirement.
Bill Plunkett of the Orange Country Register recently spoke the Erstad, who “sounded like a happy father, perfectly content if he never plays another major-league game.” Here’s more from the 36-year-old who hasn’t cracked a .700 OPS since 2004:
I’m at peace with with whichever way it goes. Things can happen in a hurry. I’m just staying in shape and keeping an open mind to anything. At this point, I’m just living life. I’m going to be ready if it comes. If not, I’m going to be the best dad I can be. I’m pretty sure if I don’t sign with anyone, I’m still going to be pretty busy in March.
Erstad remains a good defensive outfielder, but his bat has gone from overrated and mediocre to just plain bad. He hit .194 in 150 plate appearances off the Astros’ bench last season and has batted .247/.299/.344 in 374 games over the past four years. During that time the only outfielders with more plate appearances and a lower OPS are Joey Gathright and Carlos Gomez.
Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.
With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.
The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.
The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.
Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.
It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.