One of the things I’ve been watching in the early going is who the scapegoat will be in Boston if things don’t turn around quick. The easy choice — and leader at the moment — is Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He fits for so many reasons. He’s more or less unproven. He’s been given a starting job more or less by default. His backup is a fan favorite. As a catcher he’s a handy person to blame for both offensive woes (his own) and pitching woes due to his calling the game (even if the pitching stinks and the game is called from the dugout; no one said the scapegoat business is fair).
While the search for scapegoats can be nasty business, I’m kind of agnostic about it with a team like the Red Sox because they’re managed by smart people who tend not to overreact. If Salty is skewered, it will likely be after he’s had every reasonable shot to prove himself, not because the press and talk radio went nutty. And based on Jon Heyman’s column today, that seems to be what’s happening:
A Red Sox person said they weren’t concerned yet about Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who went 0-for-10 with five strikeouts to open the season against his old team, the Rangers. Word is, he has until June to prove he belongs as the starting catcher.
That’s a pretty decent amount of time before a contender looks at other options. In the meantime: get hitting, Salty.
The Dodgers have reinstated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the 60-day disabled list after his recovery from a herniated disc. To make room for him they have optioned Rob Segedin to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Gonzalez last played on June 11. Since then the Dodgers have gone an astounding 46-9, with shoe-in rookie of the year candidate Cody Bellinger handling first base duties and posting a .978 OPS. When Gonzalez went down he was hitting .255/.304/.339 and only one homer in 49 games.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of playing time he gets going forward. The Dodgers, of course, have a comfortable lead in the NL West, so they could afford to allow Gonzalez to play a good bit to see if his bat sharpens up while simultaneously giving Bellinger, who has never played more than 137 games in a season, a bit of a breather. Beyond that, though, the Dodgers ain’t broke, so it’s hard to see why anyone would want to tinker with things.
The Tampa Bay Rays have activated outfielder Kevin Kiermaier from the 60-day disabled list.
Kiermaier, who fractured his hip in early June, is batting leadoff and playing center field in tonight’s game against the Mariners. He was just 3-for-24 on his rehab assignment, but those aren’t usually predictive of anything. He was hitting .258/.329/.408 when he went down. Getting his bat — and, more importantly, his glove — back in the lineup will boost the struggling Rays in their quest for a playoff spot.