Doug Fernandes of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune has some advice for Joe Maddon and the Rays when they face the Yankees next week:
Joe Maddon has an answer for everything, so I’m sure the
Tampa Bay skipper doesn’t need any advice on how to handle the fallout
However . . .
This one time, an exception will be made. If I were Maddon, I’d have
Matt Garza deliver the pitch heard ’round the Bronx, and felt in the
general rib-cage area of Derek Cheater, eh, Jeter.
Darn straight. Monday night at Yankee Stadium, the start of the
four-game rematch between two teams with another reason to amp up the
dislike, I’m ordering Garza, the scheduled Rays’ starter, to plunk the
New York shortstop the first time he comes to the plate.
Nothing too injurious, certainly nothing around Jeter’s head. But a
fastball buried somewhere in his side, according to baseball’s unwritten
code, is in order.
Then, as Jeter shakes off the pain–which I hope is considerable–and
trots to first, Garza, normally a fiery sort anyway, needs to shout
something to the effect of “that base you deserve.”
Wouldn’t that be fun?
If, outside of the sports world, someone suggested a course of action with the purpose of inflicting “considerable pain” on a person and then called it “fun,” that person would be considered a sociopath or worse. But this is baseball, so it’s perfectly acceptable. Oy.
Stepping off my hitting-players-on-purpose-is-lunacy soap box, I’ll note that it’s stupid for another reason too: Derek Jeter ain’t hittin’ all that well these days, so plunking him in the ribs and awarding him first base is to do him a favor.
Other than that . . .
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.
The Rangers got a bit of a breather on Saturday after clinching the division lead during Friday night’s win. Naturally, it was also a prime opportunity for another of Adrian Beltre‘s well-documented antics, as he spent his off day directing the Rangers’ infield defense with a series of signs. Even with Carlos Beltran‘s help, no one, least of all those playing the infield, appeared to have any idea what Beltre’s gestures were intended to convey.
You can add this to the list of in-game oddities Beltre has become so well-known for over the years, running the gamut from the way he kicked a ball over the foul line to his histrionics every time someone comes close to touching his head. If nothing else, it’s a convincing audition reel for the third baseman’s future in major league coaching — a career path that, I’d imagine, would end up looking something like this: