While in Washington to play the Nationals this weekend Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa will be guests at the “Restoring Honor” rally organized by FOX News host Glenn Beck and featuring former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Pujols is being honored at the event and La Russa will be on hand to introduce him to what’s expected to be a crowd of over 20,000 gathering at the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech.
Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch writes that La Russa was only willing to attend and involve Pujols “after receiving assurances that the event is not a thinly disguised political rally.” Here’s more from the manager, who got into some hot water last month for publicly supporting the Arizona immigration law:
I made it clear when we were approached. I said, “If it’s political, I wouldn’t even approach Albert with it.” I don’t want to be there if it’s political. I made the point several times: “What is this about?” I don’t know who’s going to be there, who’s going to accept it. But the gist of the day is not political. I think it’s a really good concept, actually.
I’ll go out on a limb here and guess that a rally hosted by Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin at the base of the Lincoln Memorial will probably have just a tad of politics involved. Strauss notes that “some liberal critics have portrayed the three-hour event as a platform for the conservative Tea Party movement” and adds that “the rally is expected to include a faith-based message, something that squares with Pujols’ commitment to his faith as well as his Pujols Family Foundation.”
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.