Stephen Strasburg has only made three major league starts, but there’s already a groundswell of people who would like to see him pitch in the All-Star Game next month. And according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said that the organization wouldn’t object to him pitching in the game.
“The most a pitcher would go [in the All-Star Game] is for two, three innings,” Rizzo said. “Whatever they would need him to do, we would make sure that he does it because it’s an honor to play in it, it’s an honor to be asked. It’s a way for the National League to win the game and give the National League the extra game in the World Series.
“We would be honored that he would be an All-Star and he would certainly play in the All-Star Game. I would love it. If [Phillies manager] Charlie Manuel or MLB feels he is one of the best players in the league and he should be on the All-Star team, he would earn it and deserves it. I would embrace it.”
I’m not high on the idea that players should earn a spot on the All-Star team based on their first-half performance. I simply want to see the best players in the game. So that argument doesn’t have much merit with me. But I would be a little miffed if another deserving rookie like Jaime Garcia got snubbed in favor of Strasburg. Then again, Garcia has a 1.59 ERA over his first 13 starts this season, so barring a complete collapse over the next three weeks or so, he’s a virtual lock to make the team. That’s my only reservation, though.
Not only would the All-Star Game be an awesome national showcase for Strasburg, but I also feel that he would improve the chances of the National League winning home-field advantage in the World Series. And as a National League fan myself, that’s a pretty compelling reason to include him on the roster. We’ll see if Charlie Manuel agrees.
Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.
Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.
On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.
For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”
Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.
MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”
Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.
The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.