Off to a slow start as he tries to bounce back from the worst season of his career, Derek Jeter has already ditched the “new swing” that made so many headlines throughout spring training.
Hitting coach Kevin Long, who worked with Jeter to revamp his approach at the plate, told Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com that the 37-year-old shortstop has gone back to “more of what he’s done for his whole career” after initially attempting to decrease his stride.
Long tried to downplay the significance of the switch by saying that Jeter “has had a very successful career and it has worked out well for him.”
However, if the hitting coach truly believed sticking with the old approach was better for Jeter right now, at age 37, he wouldn’t have worked to change things in the first place. Jeter has gone 7-for-34 (.206) with zero homers and five strikeouts through nine games to produce a .535 OPS that is nearly 200 points lower than last year’s career-worst mark, but 34 at-bats are hardly enough to draw any sort of meaningful conclusions no matter how high profile the player. Last year he got off to a great start, hitting .330 in April, only to hit .260 after May 1.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.