The Angels made the anticpated move prior to Tuesday’s game, placing Vernon Wells on the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin and calling up speedster Reggie Willits to play a reserve role.
But this one came out of left field: replacing Wells tonight and making his first career start in the outfield is usual second baseman Howie Kendrick.
Kendrick had often shifted over to first base with Kendry Morales out, having made seven starts at the position this year. But he has only one inning of experience in the outfield in the majors, that coming in center.
The reasoning is pretty clear: manager Mike Scioscia thinks his defense is better with Maicer Izturis at second and Alberto Callaspo at third than it would be with one of those two DHing and Bobby Abreu playing left field.
The experiment could be quickly abandoned if Kendrick embarrasses himself in left field. However, this is definitely the night to give it a try. Joel Pineiro, who gets about as many grounders as any pitcher in baseball, will be on the mound against the White Sox.
Update: The Orange County Register’s Sam Miller points out that Kendrick’s previous one inning in center field wasn’t even legitimate. He was listed as the center fielder as part of a five-man infield on a play in which the Angels turned two.
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.