After 20 years in the booth together, Jon Miller and Joe Morgan are on the way out as ESPN’s broadcast team for Sunday Night Baseball. The network has declined to renew Morgan’s contract. Miller is being given the option of staying on as the play-by-play radio voice on Sunday night.
Expectations are that ESPN will turn Miller’s role over to Dan Shulman. Orel Hershiser, who was the third person in the Sunday night booth last season, will likely remain and could be joined by Bobby Valentine, according to the New York Times report.
Morgan’s departure will be welcomed by many. While there’s no doubting his knowledge for the game, his biases and his tendency to repeat himself made him a whipping boy in the stats community for many years. Miller remains among the very best at what he does, but it was probably time for ESPN to bring in some younger blood. Plus, Miller will continue to get plenty of air time with the Giants.
Personally, I’d rather ESPN go to Jon Sciambi over Shulman, but Sciambi is still something of a newcomer at the network. The featured role should be his someday.
Mariners’ right-hander Felix Hernandez is looking at a 3-4 week recovery period, the team announced on Friday. Hernandez has been officially diagnosed with bursitis in his right shoulder after getting pulled from his last start against the Tigers on Tuesday.
It’s not the first shoulder issue the 31-year-old righty has dealt with during his career. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times notes that Hernandez was previously diagnosed with bursitis during a minor league stint in 2005, several weeks prior to making his major league start for Seattle. This time around, however, the injury is coupled with a few years of not-so-sharp stuff, waning velocity and career-low numbers, and while it’s certainly not a worst-case diagnosis, it seems like greater cause for concern.
Without Felix, the Mariners will keep rolling with James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ariel Miranda, Yovani Gallardo and Chase De Jong in their rotation. They’ll also keep Ben Gamel in right field, with starting right fielder Mitch Haniger expected to miss 3-4 weeks after sustaining a Grade 2 strain in his right oblique on Tuesday.
The Rays acquired minor league reliever Drew Smith from the Tigers on Friday, per a team announcement. The move will close the loop on the trade the two teams began in January for backup outfielder Mikie Mahtook.
Smith, 23, pitched his first full season in Single-A West Michigan in 2016, turning in a 2.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 11.5 SO/9 in 48 2/3 innings. The right-hander is still several levels away from making any impact on the Rays’ major league roster, but appears to be progressing steadily in two seasons of pro ball and has delivered two runs, four walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 11 2/3 innings at High-A Lakeland this season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he’ll be reassigned to the Rays’ High-A Charlotte this week.