There’s a new player on the NHL’s Minnesota Wild who has baseball to thank for his hockey career. He’s Casey Wellman, the son of former Giants and Royals’ utilityman Brad Wellman, and he got his start, indirectly anyway, on a Royals’ road trip:
In 1988, the Royals were in Boston to play the Red Sox when the Bruins
were hosting the New Jersey Devils in the Prince of Wales conference
finals. The Devils trainer was buddies with the Royals trainer and
invited Brad Wellman and Royals teammate Kevin Seitzer to Boston Garden
for a morning skate.
In the locker room, Wellman was invited onto
the ice. “But I didn’t know how to skate,” Brad Wellman said. “That
bothered me, so when I got back home after the year, I learned how to
skate and then (Casey and brother Logan) came and they were pretty
Coolest thing I learned in all of this? Brad Wellman’s Baseball-Reference page says that he’s Tom Candiotti’s brother in law. Tom Candiotti played Hoyt Wilhelm in *61, alongside Bruce McGill, who played Ralph Houk. McGill, of course, played D-Day in “Animal House,” which means that Casey Wellman has a Bacon number of 3.
Which is probably pretty low for a guy in the NHL.
(thanks to Neate Sager for the link)
Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.
Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.
It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.
“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”
Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.
This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.
With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.