April Fools? Willie Bloomquist is leading off for Diamondbacks

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Willie Bloomquist is a poor man’s Jeff Francoeur in that wherever he goes the local media members do glowing features on him, the managers play him far too often, and he performs terribly.

It didn’t take long for Bloomquist to cast his spell on Arizona manager Kirk Gibson, who has inexplicably written him into the lineup as the Diamondbacks’ leadoff man against stud right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez and the Rockies today.

Seriously.

Bloomquist is starting at shortstop for an injured Stephen Drew, so I won’t mock his presence in the lineup, but putting him in the leadoff spot is absurd and makes Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez batting Jason Heyward sixth yesterday look downright genius.

During the past three seasons Bloomquist hit .259 with a ghastly .300 on-base percentage and .328 slugging percentage versus right-handed pitchers and in that same time period Jimenez held right-handed hitters to a .224 batting average. By putting Bloomquist atop the lineup Gibson is not only giving the most plate appearances to one of the worst hitters in baseball, he’s asking a guy who can’t get on base against righties to set the table for the Diamondbacks’ best hitters.

We’re two days into the season and this is already the leader in the clubhouse for worst lineup decision of 2011, although now that I’ve pointed it out Bloomquist will probably go 5-for-5 with two homers.

Miguel Sano suspended one game for altercation with Tigers

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Twins third baseman Miguel Sano has been suspended one game for his role in Saturday’s altercation with the Tigers, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Sano will appeal his suspension, so he’ll be eligible to play until that is resolved.

On Saturday, Tigers outfielder JaCoby Jones was hit in the face by Twins pitcher Justin Haley. The Tigers’ Matt Boyd threw behind Sano when he came to the plate in the fifth inning, seemingly exacting revenge. Sano took exception, catcher James McCann pushed his glove into Sano’s face, and the benches emptied. Both Boyd and Sano were ejected from the game.

Sano has hit well in the early going, batting .241/.413/.569 with four home runs and 14 RBI with an MLB-best 17 walks in 75 plate appearances. Losing Sano for only one game won’t be the biggest deal for the Twins. Eduardo Escobar would get the start at third base to fill in for Sano if he loses his appeal.

Boyd was fined an undisclosed amount and not suspended, per MLB.com’s Jason Beck.

Matt Barnes suspended four games for throwing at Manny Machado

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ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes has been suspended four games and fined an undisclosed amount for throwing at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado on Sunday. Barnes was exacting revenge for Machado’s slide which injured second baseman Dustin Pedroia on Friday, and was ejected immediately after throwing the pitch at Machado.

Barnes is appealing his suspension, so he will be able to participate in games until the issue is resolved. The 26-year-old right-hander has a 3.60 ERA and an 11/6 K/BB ratio in 10 innings so far this season.

The suspension is rather light considering Barnes’ intent. Barnes missed, thankfully, as he hit Machado’s bat rather than his helmet. Had he hit his intended target, though, baseball might’ve been out one superstar third baseman. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports wrote today that Major League Baseball needs to beef up its punishment for players attempting to injure other players. And he’s totally right about that. The punishment is neither enough to deter players from attempting to injure their peers, nor is it enough for teams to deter their own players from doing so.