Josh Hamilton lost a month and a half of the season thanks to an ugly head first slide into home plate. So, logic dictates, he’s going cut that sort of thing out, right?
Nah. I didn’t see it, but someone in the comments told me that he slid head first twice last night. And here he was on ESPN Radio in Dallas yesterday, courtesy of Sports Radio Interviews, making it clear that he has every intention of continuing the Pete Rose act.
Why? Instincts, baby, instincts:
Head first slides. Will you ever do that again?
“Yeah. Yeah I still will. It’s just a reaction when you’re playing the game and playing it how you were supposed to be playing it. You know certain situations call for you to go head first instead of feet first and if the situation comes up again obviously I’m going to go head first. That situation has come up whether it be a triple and diving into third or stealing a base. Obviously I get off first base I have to dive back head first. I never saw anyone dive feet first back in.”
There’s a healthy debate about whether sliding head first is an advantage. I don’t have any real knowledge here, but my gut tell me that it is. Obviously on tag plays it gives you more maneuverability and stuff. Even on the pure speed play, it just seems like you’re better off going head first due to factors like momentum and center of gravity and stuff.
But I bet it isn’t so big an advantage that it’s worth the risk to someone as valuable and injury prone as Josh Hamilton. If I was his manager I’d rather he be thrown out on close plays ten times rather than see him diving into a bag. And as for that get-back-to-first-base stuff: Hamilton’s career high in stolen bases is nine, and it’s likely only going to go down from there. How about this: shorten the leadoff and, in the event of a pickoff play, do that run-back-to-the-back-corner-of-the-bag thing they taught us in little league.
The writing was on the wall, but the Yankees made it official on Saturday: Aroldis Chapman is no longer closing games for the Bronx Bombers. Comments from manager Joe Girardi suggested that the move is a temporary one, however, and he told reporters that Chapman will be utilized at “different points” in the game as the Yankees try to pinpoint the source of the left-hander’s struggles.
There’s no question that the flame-throwing southpaw has been off his game for a while, and his season 4.29 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 12.6 SO/9 hints at some of the issues he’s been facing. He imploded in each of his last three appearances, issuing a cumulative five hits, six runs and five strikeouts over just 3 1/3 innings. It seems plausible that the left rotator cuff inflammation that sidelined him several months ago has resurfaced, but the veteran lefty said Friday that he doesn’t believe any physical issues have caused his decline.
While Chapman works out the kinks in his mechanics, the Yankees will look to some combination of Dellin Betances and David Robertson to cover the ninth inning. Girardi wouldn’t commit to either reliever in the closer’s spot, however, and said he’d take it on a case-by-case basis depending on the match-ups in any given game. The long-term plan is still to reinstate Chapman, whenever that might make sense for the team.
“He’s been scuffling over the past 10 days, two weeks,” Girardi said. “I just thought for us to get him back on track, maybe the best way would be to move him around a little bit until he gets going. When we get him going like I believe he’ll get going, there’s a good chance I’ll put him right back in that closer’s role.”
The Nationals officially activated Stephen Strasburg off the 10-day disabled list, the team announced Saturday. They’ll pencil him into the starting lineup for their second set against the Padres on Saturday night. Strasburg is expected to assume Max Scherzer‘s roster spot after Scherzer landed on the disabled list with neck inflammation prior to Friday’s series opener. No other roster moves appear to be necessary for the time being.
Strasburg, 28, is finally looking stable after serving a 26-day stint on the DL with a right elbow nerve impingement. It’s the first serious injury he’s sustained since last August, when he missed 20 days with inflammation in his right elbow, and one the Nationals are taking seriously as they juggle multiple stints for their elite starters. He’ll enter Saturday’s competition with a 10-3 record in 20 starts, supplemented by a 3.25 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 through 121 2/3 innings.
Elbow issues are nothing to be played around with, but Strasburg’s performance in his lone rehab outing relieved any residual apprehension the Nats might have had about his activation this weekend. He tossed 66 pitches for High-A Potomac, hitting 95 MPH with his heater and logging three hits, one run, one walk and five strikeouts over five innings. Club manager Dusty Baker is hoping for a similarly dominant start against the Padres, and told reporters that he’ll hold Strasburg to a performance count as the righty works his way back to a full-time gig.