Let the record reflect that B.J. Upton hustled last night

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My virtual friend* Jonah Keri alerted me to something interesting from last night’s Rays-Orioles game. I didn’t see it live, but I just went back and watched the highlight on MLB.tv and I agree that it’s interesting enough to be worth passing along.

*While my previous professional life involved meeting real people, life as a blogger basically entails talking to people on the Internet all day. Jonah is one of those people who — if we were insurance salesmen or consultants or something — I would have met in person a long time ago, but because we’re both basically Internet baseball people, we’ve only chatted, exchanged tweets and emails, etc.  There are a lot of people I know like that, actually, and henceforth I’m just going to refer to them as my “virtual friends” until I’ve actually had the chance to meet them in person. After all, what if I met Jonah tomorrow and we hated each others’ guts on some visceral level?  Would have hated to call him my friend without knowing that!

One out, seventh inning, Rays up 8-4, runners on the corners and Miguel Tejada at bat.  Tejada hits a ball into right center that Rays’ right fielder Ben Zobrist had to run for, but totally should have caught. Instead, it hit off his glove and skipped to the warning track.  Jonah watches a lot of Rays games these days — for good reason — and says that it’s a play that Zobrist usually makes.

Zobrist goes after the ball, but it’s B.J. Upton — not Zobrist — who is, in Jonah’s words “hustling his ass off.” Upton beats Zobrist to the ball, grabs it and throws it in.

It’s a little thing in the course of a long season — and it didn’t end up saving any runs here — but how often do we hear about B.J. Upton hustling?  Never, really, but you can be damn sure that the moment he loafs he’s going to be all over ESPN and the blogs and everywhere. For that matter, if Upton just let a ball doink off his glove like Zobrist did — which did end up costing the Rays runs — I’m guessing he’d get a lot more flak for it than Zobrist did.

Again, not a big thing, but I think it’s worth noting that B.J. Upton hustled last night.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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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.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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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.