Brian Roberts was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in his Grapefruit League debut against the Twins on Friday night. The 32-year-old second baseman had been slowed since the beginning of camp due to a slight herniated disk in his lower back.
Roberts told Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com that his performance at the plate was “obviously, not stellar” but that’s not completely unexpected with a layoff of several months.
“My last at-bat, actually I started to finally feel a lot more
comfortable in the box. My first two, I was pretty clueless,” Roberts
said. “But that’s the way it is every year. It doesn’t take long; it
only takes a couple of at-bats just to kind of get your timing going,
see the velocity. That’s the biggest thing; you just haven’t seen
velocity up until this point.”
Manager Dave Trembley said he could “care less” about the results, as long as Roberts continues to swing the bat without any pain. The O’s skipper stated that “he had every reason to be confident” that Roberts will be ready for Opening Day. Provided Roberts doesn’t feel anything in his back in the coming days, he should only need a few more games to prepare for the new season.
Last night the Trump Administration announced a new batch of restrictions on people traveling from foreign countries, following up on its previous travel ban on persons from six predominately Muslim countries. The latest restriction could potentially touch on Major League Baseball, however, as it includes Venezuela.
The restriction for Venezuela is far narrower than the others, only blocking visas for government officials on business or tourist travel from Venezuela. There has been considerable uncertainty about the scope and enforcement mechanisms for the previous travel ban, however, and the entire matter is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. With that uncertainty, many around Major League Baseball have asked how and if the league or the union might respond to an order that, while seemingly not facially impacting baseball personnel or their families, could impact them in practice.
To that end, Major League Baseball issued a statement this afternoon, saying “MLB is aware of the travel ban that involves Venezuela and we have contacted the appropriate government officials to confirm that it will not have an effect on our players traveling to the U.S.” It is not clear whether it has, in fact, received such confirmation or if its an ongoing dialog or what.
Again: the ban shouldn’t impact baseball players or their families based on its terms. But based on what we saw with the enforcement of the previous one — and based the unexpected consequences many major leaguers faced when international travel restrictions were tightened following the 9/11 attacks — it’s only prudent for Major League Baseball to make such inquiries and get whatever assurances it can well in advance of next February when players from Venezuela will be coming back to the United States for spring training.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge made history today, hitting his 49th and 50th home runs, tying and then breaking the rookie record previously held by Mark McGwire of the Oakland Athletics.
Judge’s first dinger came in the third inning of this afternoon’s Royals-Yankees tilt. It was the sixth pitch from Jake Junis and left via right field. His second came in the bottom of the seventh against Trevor Cahill.
McGwire set his record in 1987, needing 151 games to do it. Judge hit his 50th in his 150th game of the season. He has five more games after today to add to that mark. Through his latest at bat in this game Judge is hitting .283/.417/.620 on the year with 50 HR, 108 RBI, 124 runs scored and 119 walks. Given Judge’s strong finish to the season, the AL MVP race should come down to a contest between him and Jose Altuve. It’s hard to argue against either one.
Here’s Judge’s first bomb:
And here’s the second: