Manny and Johnny: “We’re back!”

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Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon were formally introduced by the Rays today. They had a press conference. It sounds like it was a  laugh riot.  Highlights, taken from this WEEI report and Marc Topkin’s Twitter feed:

  • At the outset Manny smiled and said “we’re back!”
  • Manny did not put on his Rays cap because he said it did not fit over his hair.
  • Manny called Joe Maddon “the coach.”  When asked about the lineup, Manny said he can hit anywhere because he had 5 triples in 1998.
  • Manny said that he was not at all about the money but rather he was out to prove himself now and that’s all the motivation he needed.  I want to believe him — and I am prepared to admit that even Manny has pride — but every single writer who has ever covered they guy is questioning his motivation with a low contract right now. Not just the normal hater-types.  This will be interesting to watch.
  • After being given number 24 by the Rays he said that he didn’t have a problem not being 99 because 99 is his National League number and 24 is his American League number. I’m actually going to suspend my disbelief about this and acknowledge that Manny may very well have thought this up when he was a teenager and that it was always his plan.  To do this, I’ll forget that he wore 99 with the White Sox last year.
  • Damon called Manny “one of greatest hitters of our generation.”  Manny said “thank you Johnny.”
  • Each player was asked about their physical shape. Manny flexed and pointed to his bicep. Damon said that they could either look in mirror and flex or “we can go in shower  and compete there.”
  • Damon said that the Rays are his “Dream Team.”  No word if he admitted that he really didn’t like that octopus up in Detroit last year or if his happiness winning World Series rings in Boston and New York was a big sham.  I’m totally convinced at this point that he could get signed by the Carolina Mudcats and he’d say “I always wanted to play here.”
  • Manny said he had been working out with Evan Longoria and that “I’m trying to help him find his cap.”
  • Joe Maddon said about Johnny and Manny: “I just want them to be themselves.”

They’re way ahead of you Joe.

Javier Baez, D.J. LeMahieu have disagreement about sign-stealing

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Fellow second basemen Javier Baez of the Cubs and D.J. LeMahieu of the Rockies got into a disagreement in the top of the third inning of Sunday’s game at Coors Field over sign-stealing.

LeMahieu reached on a fielder’s choice ground out, then advanced to second base on Charlie Blackmon‘s single. While Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story were batting, Baez was concerned that LeMahieu was relaying the Cubs’ signs to his teammates. Baez decided to stand in front of LeMahieu to block any information he might have been giving to Arenado and Story. LeMahieu got irritated and the two jawed at each other for a bit. Umpires Vic Carapazza and Greg Gibson had to intervene to tell Baez to knock it off.

There has always been a back-and-forth with alleged sign-stealing. As long as teams aren’t using technology to steal signs, it’s fair game for players to relay information to their teammates about the opposing team’s signs. Last year, MLB determined the Red Sox went against the rules and used technology — an Apple watch in this case — to steal signs from the Yankees. Other teams in the past have been accused of using binoculars from the bullpen to steal signs. In this particular case with Baez and LeMahieu, there was no foul play going on, just Baez trying to make the Rockies cede what he perceived to be their slight competitive advantage.

The Cubs went on to beat the Rockies 9-7 on Sunday.