It was May 10, 1996.
Ernie Young, a 26-year-old center fielder getting his first real shot in the majors, blasted three homers as the A’s beat the Twins 15-5. He had entered the game with three homers in 164 career at-bats, the lowest previous homer total for anyone who has ever had a three-homer game.
(The last of those homers came off LaTroy Hawkins, one of two players from the game still active today. The other, Jason Giambi, started at third base for Oakland. Steve Wojciechowski and Frankie Rodriguez were the starters.)
Young went on to hit 19 homers that season, but he finished with a mediocre .242/.326/.424 line. The A’s kept him around in 1997, but as he continued to struggle, they went to Damon Mashore in center field instead.
Aside from a year in Japan in 2002, Young spent most of the rest of his career tearing up Triple-A pitching. At 31, he was the oldest player on the 2000 U.S. Olympic baseball team that took home gold in Sydney. He made his final major league appearance with the Tigers in 2004, but he played until he was 37 and hit 319 minor league homers in all. In parts of 13 seasons in Triple-A, he hit .282/.371/.502 with 245 homers. He hit .225/.310/.378 with 27 homers in 908 at-bats as a major leaguer.
Today, Young is managing in the Tigers system with the West Michican Whitecaps of the Midwest League.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.