Yesterday the Cardinals moved Opening Day third baseman David Freese to the 60-day disabled list and gave 25-year-old rookie Allen Craig his first career start at the hot corner. And in related news, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that they have “intensified a search for help at the position.”
Tony La Russa said just last week that using Craig at third base “would be the worst thing for him and the team,” but with Freese out for the season with a broken ankle and veteran fill-in Felipe Lopez disappointing both offensively and defensively the manager quickly changed his mind. For now at least.
I don’t think this is really doing [Craig] a justice. It’s one of those moves you make because you have to make it, not because you want to make it. I don’t hesitate to make it because I really think this guy is a gamer, a talented gamer. It’s not really good for our club if he has to do it. He’s a very tough guy. He’s unafraid. We’ll see if we need to throw him out there again.
Craig made an error on the only ball hit to him yesterday, although Strauss described it as “a two-hop, ninth-inning smash.”
As for who the Cardinals are targeting as a longer-term answer at third base, Strauss reports that “the club retains interest in” Brandon Inge, an impending free agent with about $1.5 million left on his contract. With the Tigers three games below .500 and 10.5 games out of first place they’ll no doubt try to pass Inge through waivers to set up a trade, but he may be claimed before getting to the Cardinals.
The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.
As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”
Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”
Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”
Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.
Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.
It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.
As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.