Mike Leake took the hill again yesterday, his first appearance since he been caught stealin’. And it was a good outing: seven innings in which he gave up three runs and picked up the win. That shows some toughness.
Or does it? Because Dusty Baker saw something other than toughness when he talked about how he decided that, yeah, Leake should take his regular turn in the rotation:
“What you gauge and what is are two different things. Usually, you can look in a person’s eyes and read that person at that moment. His eyes were gentle eyes, which lets me know that he knows nobody knows joy and bitterness in anybody’s heart but that person. No matter how their face looks. His eyes were gentle to the point of pain and embarrassment.”
That’s not awkward or anything.
Seriously, though, I’m not sure that there’s a better manager in baseball when it comes to relating to his players and being helpful and supportive when they’re going through stuff. Baker was fabulous with respect to Joey Votto’s battles with anxiety disorder in 2009. And while his words about Leake are a bit unconventional for a post-game interview, they certainly suggest that he views his players as people first. And that’s pretty nice.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.