Braves phenom Jason Heyward failed to register a hit or walk for the first time this spring during Saturday’s 7-6 exhibition loss to the Blue Jays.
According to Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, who has apparently nicknamed the kid “J-Hey,” it’s the first time the 20-year-old has been held off the basepaths since the Grapefruit League schedule got underway in early March.
Heyward finished 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the contest, snapping a nine-game hitting streak and dropping his Grapefruit League batting average slightly to .387. He now stands 12-for-31 this spring with four doubles, a home run and nine walks, and has struck out only five times. The Braves haven’t made anything official yet, but it’s safe to say Heyward is more than ready to take over the club’s starting right field gig.
Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.
The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.
While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.
The Red Sox have signed third baseman Jhonny Peralta to a minor-league deal. He’ll report to Pawtucket.
Peralta, 35, hit a paltry .204/.259/.204 in 58 plate appearances for the Cardinals this year. But with Pablo Sandoval on the disabled list — and ineffective when he hasn’t been — the Sox could use some infield depth.
This is the second former Tiger that former Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has picked up today, after signing Doug Fister. No word if he’s kicking the tires on Andy Dirks or Brennan Boesch.