The day had not gone well for Atlanta. New first baseman Derrek Lee was 0 for 4 with a couple of strikeouts. Melky Cabrera’s adventures in left field had led to a couple of Cubs runs. The Braves’ bats just weren’t able to do a hell of a lot against Ryan Dempster. Facing Carlos Marmol in the ninth seemed like a mere formality. But then . . .
Martin Prado, Brian McCann and Alex Gonzalez walked. In between, Lee and Melky struck out. Bases loaded, two down, Rick Ankiel up to the plate. The count went to 2-2 . . . Braves down to their last strike and . . . Ankiel triples to right field. 5-3 Braves, which is where things ended after Billy Wagner closed it out. Since they were tempting The Fates by relying on Ankiel to be a hero they should have tried to be really macho and close it out with Farnsworth, but no one ever listens to me.
I’m obviously excited because I’m a big fanboy. But even if you’re not a fanboy you can’t help but marvel at what the Braves are doing this year. Unless I’m missing one or two, that’s the 3.675th time they’ve come from behind in the ninth this season. They’re living on the edge and it’s been pretty entertaining stuff.
Well, Phillies fans probably aren’t marveling. And today Cubs fans aren’t. But you see what I’m getting at.
The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.
Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.
The team has yet to confirm the deal.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.