Tony La Russa used the weather and the rules to his advantage in last night’s 4-2 win over the Reds, moving his club back into first place in the National League Central.
La Russa scratched Kyle McClellan from his scheduled start because of the threat of inclement weather, instead sending Miguel Batista out for the first inning. He threw just six pitches before play was stopped, which resulted in a rain delay of two hours and 10 minutes. Meanwhile, Edinson Volquez warmed up as the starting pitcher for the Reds, but never entered the game. When play resumed, McClellan came out to pitch for the Cardinals while Dusty Baker was forced to use Matt Maloney.
Maloney lasted just two-plus innings, giving up three runs on eight hits, while McClellan allowed two runs over six innings for his third win of the season. Well played, La Russa.
I honestly never knew this until last night, but MLB rules state that the home team — and not the umpires — have control over whether a game starts on time. According to Matthew Leach of MLB.com, Baker said he was informed that there was a window to play the ballgame.
“It’s really a tough start,” Baker said. “The information that we received was probably not the same information they received, or else we wouldn’t have started [Volquez] in the first place. We were told there was going to be a window of opportunity there. That window lasted about three minutes.”
While it sure seems like La Russa used the situation to his advantage, don’t you think Baker could have just fired up the internet or had someone check the weather forecast before sending Volquez out to the bullpen? Wasn’t he at least a little suspicious when Batista began to warm up for the Cardinals? Just sounds like he was one-upped by his longtime rival.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.