Randy Ruiz

For American ballplayers in Japan: uncertainty

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The crisis in Japan is not a baseball story, but baseball is Japan’s biggest sport and this is a baseball blog so to the extent there is anything worthwhile about those two worlds intersecting, I’m inclined to link it.

The latest: a story about former Blue Jay Randy Ruiz, who plays for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, who call Sendai — Japan’s hardest-hit city — home.

The Golden Eagles weren’t immediately affected by the earthquake/tsunami, as they were playing several hundred miles away at the time. But Ruiz’s account gives us at least a small glimpse into what’s going on with foreigners in Japan to play baseball.  Confusion mostly. Hard decisions about whether to stay or go.

Stuff about American ballplayers in Japan is not essential reading given how serious the situation is on the ground, but it’s interesting all the same.

Padres announce Pat Murphy won’t return as manager in 2016

Pat Murphy
AP Photo
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Per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Padres have announced that interim manager Pat Murphy won’t return as the team’s manager in 2016. Haudricourt adds that Brewres manager Craig Counsell tried to get Murphy on his staff, and says to look for Murphy to join the Brewers for the 2016 season.

Murphy led the Padres to a 42-53 record after Bud Black was fired in June. He had previously managed for two years with Single-A Eugene in 2011-12, and at Triple-A Tucson and El Paso in 2013-14.

Former major leaguer Phil Nevin is a candidate for the Padres’ vacant managing position, according to Scott Miller of Bleacher Report.

Royals clinch home field advantage, best record in the American League

Lorenzo Cain
AP Photo

With a 6-1 win over the Twins in Sunday’s season finale, the Royals clinched the best record in the American League, which nets them home field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS. The Royals stand at 95-67 while the Blue Jays, who lost on Sunday, finish at 93-69.

95-67 is the Royals’ best record since finishing 97-65 in 1980, when they lost the World Series to the Phillies. Their division title is their first since 1985.

In the ALDS, which starts on Thursday, the Royals will host the winner of the AL Wild Card game between the Astros and Yankees. They are looking to avenge last year’s World Series loss, in seven games, to the Giants. The Blue Jays will host the Rangers in the other ALDS series.