Before Friday’s game against the Twins, Chase Utley addressed comments by first base coach Davey Lopes that he is currently dealing with a knee injury (via Todd Zolecki of MLB.com).
“I think there’s a little confusion and maybe a little bit of a
difference of opinion with what Davey said,” Utley said before the game.
“In my opinion, an injury is something that keeps you off the field.
When you play 162-games-plus over the course of the year, you’re going
to have aches and pains. That’s part of this game. That’s part of being a
baseball player. In my opinion there’s no injury whatsoever.”
Utley acknowledged that he has occasional soreness in his right knee, but said that it isn’t affecting his performance at the plate. His answer may not satisfy everyone, but he made a compelling argument on the field on Friday night by going 2-for-5 with a three-run home run and matching a season-high with four RBI. He had gone 88 at-bats since his last home run on May 20 against the Cubs. Utley also scored from first base on a triple by Ryan Howard in the first inning and made a fantastic diving play to rob Denard Span of a hit in the top of the third inning.
Okay, so we’ve learned not to rattle Utley’s cage, but what happens with Lopes now?
“All I can tell you is that Davey is not our spokesman for our medical
stuff,” Amaro said. “That comes from me or [assistant general manager]
Scott Proefrock or [head athletic trainer] Scott Sheridan or Dr.
[Michael] Ciccotti. This is not an injury. This is more preventative.
Take it for what it’s worth, I guess.”
There’s no word on if the Philly Phanatic will take over as the first base coach on an interim basis, though the Phillies probably wouldn’t mind at this point since he (it?) has a natural ability of not talking to people.
Or, at the very least, thank his bat.
Brett Anderson, who hit a meaty .085/.173/.106 last season, just got his first 2016 bat delivery, it seems. He posted a pic of the shiny lumber on Twitter a few minutes ago, with a message to his former teammate, the reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson, whose “JD” initials signifying whose model number it is are plainly visible on the barrel:
If Anderson breaks out offensively this year — say, he pushes that OBP over .200 — I may reconsider my “DH in the National League now” argument and merely suggest that pitchers get better bats.
In other news, whose bat was Zack Greinke using last year? And did he leave any behind at Camelback Ranch? Might be worth looking.
Last week Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart revealed that he was interested in signing free agent reliever Tyler Clippard and now Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the two sides have “made progress toward a deal.”
Piecoro notes that by trading Aaron Hill and his remaining contract to the Brewers the Diamondbacks created a bit of payroll flexibility that they could use to sign Clippard.
Clippard has a long history of excellent work as both a setup man and closer, but his raw stuff and secondary numbers have declined even though his ERA remained very good at 2.92 last season for the A’s and Mets. His strikeout rate dipped to a career-low 8.1 per nine innings, which is drop of about 25 percent from 2009-2014.
Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com just reported that Yulieski Gurriel & Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who are brothers, reportedly defected and will be seeking MLB deals. There aren’t any details yet, but Sanchez will be updating with a full story that we’ll link here when he has it. UPDATE: Here it is.
Yulieski is a 31-year old third baseman and, according to Baseball America’s Ben Badler he was the No. 1 player remaining in Cuba. He was one of the Cuban players who was permitted to play in Japan recently, and he just put up a .305/.349/.536 season with 11 homers in 62 games for the Yokohama Bay Stars and has continued to rake in Cuba. He is likely major league ready right this instant. He’d be an unrestricted free agent given his age and team’s signing him would not be subject to international bonus pool limits.
Lourdes is only 22 years old. He’s hit .269/.355/.414 in 1036 Serie Nacional plate appearances and Badler thinks he has 20-homer potential in the majors one day. He’s currently a shortstop, but is probably destined for a corner. He is young enough to where he would be subject to bonus pool limits. Several teams have already exceeded those limits for the current signing period, limiting the number of teams who could sign him. If, however, it takes MLB a long time to clear him as a free agent — and with immigration issues and the like, that’s very possible — he may not be eligible to be signed until next year, which could bring some other teams into the fold.
Right-hander Craig Stammen, who spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Nationals, is expected to sign with the Indians.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Indians “hope to finalize a deal” with Stammen today, adding veteran depth to the bullpen. It’ll likely be a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Stammen missed nearly all of last season following elbow surgery and the Nationals non-tendered him, but he’s scheduled to be ready for spring training. After struggling as a starter early in his career he’s posted a 3.02 ERA in 280 innings out of the bullpen, so if healthy it’d be a nice addition for Cleveland.