Albert Pujols hit a solo shot in the sixth inning of last night’s game, but a kid — who thought he had some pretty sweet seats in the first row of the bleachers — got smacked in the chest with it. He was soon seen crying, though whether it was because of the pain of the ball or because he missed the catch with the glove he brought with him is an open question. But there was a happy ending: Albert Pujols saw the replay of it and sent the kid a bat.
Or maybe it wasn’t happy. Because now Pujols has created a perverse incentive against catching balls heading into the bleachers. Children everywhere will now thrust themselves, face-first, into home run balls, hoping against hope that they too will get a valuable piece of baseball memorabilia. Once this trend — that I’m no doubt not the first to recognize — becomes obvious, Mr. Pujols will be sued into the poorhouse and chain-link fences will be erected around the stands at every ballpark, transforming ballgames into something not unlike a prison rodeo.
Wait. That’s all crazy. Sorry. Just had a flashback to the old legal practice. I’m much better now.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.