Now that Juan Samuel has decided to return home to Philadelphia, the Orioles still have vacancies at third base coach and bench coach. According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, former Pirates manager John Russell interviewed Friday for the two openings on Buck Showalter’s staff.
*Russell was fired by the Pirates in October after compiling a 186-299 record (.384) over three seasons as manager. He was previously the third base coach in Pittsburgh from 2003-05 under then-manager Lloyd McClendon. Showalter is also looking for a catching instructor, so Russell seems to be a pretty good fit for the job.
Gary Allenson, who was the O’s third base coach for the final three months this past season, would likely return to Triple-A Norfolk in the event that Russell is hired. Former Mets manager Willie Randolph and Orioles’ fan favorite Mike Bordick remain in the mix for the coaching positions, as well.
*By the way, just go ahead and try to find a picture of John Russell smiling. It’s not as easy as you think. In addition to the one on the right, I also stumbled upon this, this and this. Just about sums up his tenure as manager in Pittsburgh, no?
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.
Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.
In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”
Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.
Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.