Earlier this week the Indians were said to be interested in Casey Kotchman, but today the veteran first baseman signed a minor-league contract with the Rays that includes an invitation to spring training.
Tampa Bay lost last year’s starting first baseman, Carlos Pena, as a free agent, but Dan Johnson is expected to replace him and the Rays also just added Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez to the first base/designated hitter mix.
Kotchman is a very good defensive first baseman, but hit just .217 with a .616 OPS in 125 games for the Mariners last season and the 28-year-old is a career .259 hitter with a .326 on-base percentage and .392 slugging percentage. He might have some use as a bench player under the right circumstances, but his bat just isn’t good enough to be a regular option at the most offense-driven position.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.