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?
Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.
Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list
Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.
Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.
Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).
While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.