Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald tweeted this a couple of hours ago:
For any doubters about the Mike Lowell situation being a distraction, I’ve got two words for you: Already is.
Then he links the story he (apparently) wrote about Lowell in camp today. If you can find anything that constitutes a “distraction” in these quotes you’re a closer reader than I am:
“I think I’m pretty intelligent in the sense that there’s no real
playing time for me here, basically, barring a major injury, and I’m
not really in the business of hoping someone gets hurt just so I get
at-bats. For me, I feel like I’m more prepared and ready for a full
season than I was last year, so why shouldn’t I play more than I did
last year? Whether it’s here or somewhere else, I can’t control that.
“I have to separate two things. There’s the baseball aspect of it
and the real-life aspect of it. I’m very comfortable where I am in my
real life. I feel like I’m in a tremendously privileged situation. No
one needs to feel sorry for me in life. Is my baseball situation not
ideal? Yeah, it’s not ideal, and I don’t want to diminish the baseball
fact, but you never know what can happen.
“If I was on the trading block before, I can’t imagine that all of a
sudden I’m not now. I think my health is something obviously need to
show not only the Red Sox, but every other team. If that opens a door
to something else, I’ll go wherever I go or stay wherever I stay.”
Distraction? Seems to me like Mike Lowell has a pretty realistic view of things and that the only one making a big deal out of this is Mike Silverman.
Of course, the use of the word “distraction” should have tipped us all off anyway. Whenever a baseball writer uses that term it rarely means that there’s a real controversy afoot. Rather, it almost always means “I’m going to keep beating this dead horse until I can elicit a juicy quote out of someone and then say ‘AH HA!!’ look at that big, big distraction!”
There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.
It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.
Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.
Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.