Here’s something interesting.
According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, Evan Longoria will bat leadoff for the first time in his career this afternoon against the Indians.
Longoria missed the entire month of April with an oblique injury and is batting just .209/.317/.372 over his first 101 plate appearances this season, so Rays manager Joe Maddon is trying to shake him out of his slump. The 25-year-old third baseman has primarily batted third or fourth during his career.
It’s difficult to criticize Maddon for this one. Longoria is having some issues with pitch recognition right now, but he’s also making contact at a career-high rate of 87.6 percent. It’s a super small sample size, of course, but we have a larger body of evidence telling us that pretty soon those outs will turn into hits. When you consider that the Rays are batting just .211/.268/.319 out of the leadoff spot this season, it’s a worthwhile short-term experiment.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.