Ken Rosenthal interviewed Chipper Jones and asked him about his decision to try a comeback next year. Jones says he’ll only continue to play if he can be an effective player. The key question: given the denial inherent in a professional athlete’s psyche, how will he know if he can still be effective?
I’ll know probably the first month of the regular season. Spring
training is always just to knock the rust off. You feel a little slow.
Maybe you’re not getting to balls that you would during the regular
season — the bat speed is not there.
All that stuff has a way of playing itself out. Usually you’re caught
up a couple of weeks, a month into the season. You’re primed and ready. I
don’t expect to come out in spring training the first game and be in
midseason form. That will take some time, a couple of weeks, a month.
Worth noting at this point that Jones was batting .230 with two home runs after the first month of the 2010 season. Did he still feel effective then? I assume so. But if he does the same thing next year, will he really hang it up?
We thought we had the answer to that question earlier this year when Jones gave off signals that he’d walk away from his contract early if he didn’t turn it around because he had so many other things that will hold his interest after leaving baseball. But he tells Rosenthal something interesting on that score:
I enjoy other things in life. My family is a big part of that. I
honestly think that while I’m still competitive — and while I will miss
that terribly — I have other things that I enjoy doing and want to do.
You have a shelf life where you can make absurd amounts of money playing
this game. I will take advantage of that shelf life for as long as I
Tone is everything, and only Rosenthal knows the tone for sure, but that last sentence could easily be read as a repudiation of the those leave-before-my-contract-is-up comments from earlier in the year.
The Braves will certainly put up with Jones drawing lots of walks but doing little else like he did early this season, thus allowing him to continue to “take advantage of that shelf life.” But does Chipper really considering such an indulgence to be the same thing as “being an effective player?”
It’s too early to cut bait on the Braves 2010 season, but I’m already starting to think about the 2011 season and wonder what it will hold for Chipper Jones.
Dodgers 19-year-old rookie Julio Urias is coming back to the majors and Alex Wood is headed to the 15-day disabled list with left elbow soreness, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. Urias will likely start Saturday against the Braves, which will mark his debut in front of the home crowd.
Urias made his major league debut on Friday against the Mets at Citi Field, but lasted only 2 2/3 innings. He yielded three runs on five hits and four walks with three strikeouts.
Urias came into the season rated as the Dodgers’ #1 prospect and the #2 overall prospect in baseball. Prior to his promotion, he had compiled a 1.10 ERA with 44 strikeouts and eight walks over 41 innings with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
The Red Sox seem to have hit the jackpot on all of their young players so far this year. Jackie Bradley, Jr. just had a 29-game hitting streak snapped. Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 24 games on Tuesday night. And Mookie Betts has been quite productive batting leadoff for the Red Sox this year, entering Tuesday with an even .800 OPS.
Betts, 23, hit 18 home runs in his first full season last year. With a three-homer night against the Orioles on Tuesday, he’s already up to 12 in 2016 with four months of season left. The first was of the solo variety, a line drive to center field off of Kevin Gausman in the first inning. Betts followed up in the third with a liner to left field for a three-run dinger off of Gausman. He made it three in the seventh, drilling a Dylan Bundy offering to right field.
Here’s video of homer number two:
Betts finished 3-for-5 as the Red Sox won 6-2 at Camden Yards.
Last week at ESPN Sweetspot’s Inside the Zona, Ryan Morrison looked into the data and found that the Pirates stand out among the rest when it comes to throwing “headhunter” pitches. Those are defined as fastballs 3.2 feet or higher and 1.2 feet towards the batter from the center of the plate.
The research was prompted because Diamondbacks second baseman Jean Segura was hit in the helmet by Pirates reliever Arquimedes Caminero last Tuesday in the seventh inning. The next inning, Caminero hit shortstop Nick Ahmed in the jaw with a pitch and was instantly ejected.
Morrison illustrated the data in a nice chart, which you should check out. The Pirates have thrown 93 of those pitches, which is way more than any other team. The next closest team is the Reds at 68 pitches. The major league average is approximately 48 pitches.
The Pirates have had an organizational philosophy of pitching inside since at least 2013, as MLB.com’s Tom Singer quoted manager Clint Hurdle as saying, “We’re not trying to hurt people, just staying in with conviction.”
Morrison goes on to suggest that the Diamondbacks should have forfeited last Wednesday and Thursday’s games against the Pirates in protest, out of concern for their players’ safety. As it happened, the D-Backs lost both games anyway, suffering a series sweep. The two clubs don’t meet again this season.
D-Backs manager Chip Hale said after last Tuesday’s game that Caminero “shouldn’t be at this level”. Caminero responded to those comments today, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. “I’m actually glad you asked me about that,” Caminero said. “The only thing I’ve got to say about (Hale) is that he is a perfect manager. And he was a perfect player, too. That’s it. I know what I did wasn’t good, but it happens in baseball. I wasn’t trying to hit anyone.”
I realize I’m late on pointing out Morrison’s terrific article and the whole debacle between the two teams, but I felt it was worth highlighting.
Also included in a recent report on Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista by Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated — along with his belief that Rougned Odor was the only bad guy in the May 15 debacle — was the slugger’s desire to remain a Blue Jay. Per Verducci, Bautista said, “I love the city. I’d be stupid to leave” Toronto.
Bautista, 35, is in the final year of a five-year, $65 million extension signed in February 2011. Back in November, the Jays exercised their 2016 club option for $14 million. Bautista isn’t willing to discuss contract details during the season, so the two sides will have to wait until at least October to come to an agreement.
Entering Tuesday’s game against the Yankees, Bautista is hitting .237/.371/.489 with 11 home runs, 37 RBI, and 40 walks, the latter of which leads the American League.