Predictably, after Miguel Batista joked that his subbing for an injured Stephen Strasburg was like fans showing up to see Miss Universe only to get Miss Iowa instead, the actual Miss Iowa has responded.
Her name is Katherine Connors, she looks just a tad better in a two-piece than Batista, and she issued the following statement:
I know I can throw a pitch or two! The question is, can Miguel Batista walk the runway in a swimsuit?
Batista naturally backtracked from his comments a bit, framing them more as a compliment than an insult, and said Connors is “gorgeous.” He also sent her some flowers to smooth things over.
And just for the record: I’m in favor of more baseball players getting into public feuds with beauty pageant contestants, if only for the excuse to post pictures of women who look like Connors instead of dudes who look like Batista.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.