It wasn’t pretty, but it happened.
Adam Dunn wasn’t even in the original starting lineup for last night’s game against the Tigers, as he was expected to sit against left-hander Andy Oliver, but he ended up being a last-minute replacement for Paul Konerko, who underwent a minor wrist procedure earlier in the day.
The high-priced slugger entered Friday’s action hitless over his first 38 at-bats against left-handed pitching this season. He fouled out in the second inning and grounded out in the third to extend his hitless streak to 40 at-bats. In his third at-bat in the fifth inning, Dunn faced left-hander Charlie Furbush, who entered the game in relief of Oliver in the bottom of the fourth inning. Then the magic happened.
Dunn was jammed pretty badly and punched one out between first and second base. Miguel Cabrera fielded the ball cleanly, but Dunn was able to beat Furbush to the first base bag.
Yes, Adam Dunn’s first hit against a left-hander this season will go down in the history books as an infield single. Hey, it counts. As he told Sahadev Sharma of ESPNChicago.com, it’s a moment he will never forget.
“It was awesome,” Dunn said, jokingly. “Really one of my career highlights.”
Dunn, who signed a four-year, $56 million contract with the White Sox this winter, is batting .182/.327/.324 over his first 217 plate appearances this season. He leads the American League with 72 strikeouts. It can only get better from here.
Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times has an outstanding profile of former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, who is currently in jail for allegedly murdering three men nearly two years ago.
Fenno describes Martin’s erratic personality as he became a highly-touted baseball prospect who then descends into drug use. Friends described Martin has having completely changed into an unrecognizable person. Martin had repeated conflicts with friends and family such that police reports became common and he was placed in a psychiatric facility. Sadly, the facility only held him for less than 48 hours. He would allegedly murder three people upon returning home: his father, his brother-in-law, and a home security system contractor. Martin fled from police, who eventually caught up to him and subdued him with the help of a police dog.
Fenno’s profile is really worth a read, so click here to check it out.
Martin, 23, was selected by the Rays in the first round (38th overall) of the 2011 draft. He spent three years in the Rays’ system, reaching as high as Single-A Bowling Green.
On Sunday, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was ejected for throwing at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado‘s head. It was revenge for a slide of Machado’s which ended up injuring Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Barnes was suspended four games.
Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said that if he were in Barnes’ shoes, he would have also thrown at Machado, although not necessarily at his head. Via ESPN’s Scott Lauber:
If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him. The only thing I would’ve done differently is probably bring the ball a little bit lower.
Martinez added that Machado “did not intend to hurt Pedroia. And I know that because I know Machado.” And he doesn’t think Barnes meant to throw at Machado’s head.
Martinez, of course, was certainly a pitcher who wasn’t afraid to pitch inside to batters and even hit a few of them when he felt he or his teammates had been wronged. This is an unfortunate part of baseball’s culture and the fact that it continues means that it will eventually result in someone being seriously hurt. It’s disappointing that Martinez isn’t willing to be a better role model now that his playing days are over. Martinez could have set an example for today’s pitchers by saying what Barnes did crossed a line. Getting a Hall of Famer’s seal of approval will only embolden players now when they feel they must defend their teammates’ honor.
The “tradition” of beaning batters to defend one’s teammates is anachronistic in today’s game, especially when Major League Baseball has made strides in so many other ways recently to protect players’ safety.