People were complaining about the Fenway Park infield when I was a kid. Heck, they were probably complaining about it when Jerry Remy and Glenn Hoffman were kids. Tall grass. Bad bounces. Gophers and stuff. Just all kinds of nastiness.
I figured that bit of charm had largely gone away, what with the meticulous makeover Fenway has seen over the years. But apparently that’s not the case, as Nick Cafardo collects multiple quotes from Red Sox and Yankees players, all of whom preface or end their complaints by saying “not that you can really complain . . .”
On the list of things that bother me in baseball, this comes in somewhere below the fact that men don’t wear straw boater hats to games anymore and somewhere above the fact that ketchup and relish gang up on mustard and cheat to win the Sugardale Hot Dog race during Columbus Clippers games at Huntington Park. It’s just one of them things. In the case of the infield grass it’s part of home field advantage and, though frustrating, it’s no different than ballparks having different sight lines and wall configurations and all of that.
Will it ever change? Maybe. The Cubs did an overhaul of their notoriously awful infield grass before the 2009 season, and now it appears to play a lot smoother than it used to. The Red Sox could do something like that if they wanted to.
My guess though: they won’t, at least until they sign the next circa-2000 Alex Rodriguez who makes a point of demanding it. And given how long the Sox have gone without a big deal shortstop, don’t hold your breath.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.