Brandon Belt hit just .192 with one homer in 17 games before the Giants demoted him to the minors last week, but he wasted no time resuming his destruction of minor-league pitching by homering in his first Triple-A at-bat.
Belt went deep against former big leaguer Micah Owings and played left field, with the Giants giving him some outfield action in an effort to see if he can be less of a disaster there than Aubrey Huff.
Belt has batted .353 with 24 homers, 78 total extra-base hits, and 95 walks in 138 games as a minor leaguer, so his ability to put up huge numbers at Triple-A isn’t really in question. Once he gets some reps in the outfield and has his service time delayed long enough to push back his future free agency the Giants figure to give him another shot in San Francisco, likely some time around the All-Star break.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.
Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.
Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.
Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.
Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.
How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.
As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.