Hamilton avoids alcohol in celebration of AL West clinching

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We’re all familiar with the scene after baseball teams clinch postseason spots.  Champagne everywhere.  Beer poured over heads that are guarded only by goggles.  Cigars lit and puffed frequently.  Laughter.  Cheering. 

It’s all very cool and all very innocent, but not to an addict.

So Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, who spent his first couple years as a professional baseball player fighting battles with drugs and alcohol, sat on the sidelines as his club celebrated its first playoff berth since 1999 on Saturday in Oakland.

According to the Associated Press, Hamilton changed quickly into street clothes after the win and slipped into a training room as his teammates enjoyed the alcoholic beverage scene.

“It’s exciting,” Hamilton said about clinching the division. “It’s a
proud day in Texas. It was great to be on the field and with the guys
you’ve been in the trenches with.”

But he wasn’t going to put himself in a compromising situation.  He wasn’t going to tempt himself with beer and champagne, as exciting as winning the AL West might have been.

Hamilton has been out of the Rangers’ starting lineup since September 4 because of two small fractures in his rib cage.  He is making progress, though, and hoping to return for the final three games of the regular season.  The MVP candidate was batting an incredible .361/.414/.635 with 31 homers and 97 RBI before going down.

Mets to move Matt Harvey to the bullpen

Matt Harvey
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Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.

It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.

At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”

Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.