Expectations were that either the AL’s third-best or fourth-best hitter would have to be held out of the lineup when the Red Sox start a nine-game road trip in National League parks on Friday. There is an alternative, though.
Adrian Gonzalez said he’s willing to move to right field to make room for David Ortiz in the lineup with the DH unavailable starting Friday. It something the Red Sox are considering trying, though probably for just a couple of games, not for the entire slate.
Gonzalez has started all 71 of Boston’s games at first base. He’s only played right field once in his career, that coming back in 2005 with Texas. The Rangers weighed moving him out there on a more regular basis since they had Mark Teixeira installed at first, but even back then, they realized he was too slow to make it as an outfielder.
And Gonzalez is certainly no faster now. While he’s certainly less round than Ortiz, he’d probably lose a footrace to Boston’s DH. Putting him in right field, while also taking a defensive downgrade at first base, would seem to be more trouble than it’s worth. There’s also the risk of injury for both Gonzalez and Ortiz.
On the other hand, while the Red Sox may be worse off on any given day with Gonzalez in right, they don’t want to see Ortiz lose his timing at the plate either. He’s currently hitting .320/.399/.602 this season. His 1.000 OPS puts him behind only Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera and Gonzalez in the American League.
So it’s no easy call. The Red Sox may wait and see how Gonzalez handled shagging some balls in the outfield before deciding whether to try it.
With last Wednesday’s start against the Yankees, Mariners hurler Hisashi Iwakuma pushed his 2016 innings total up to 2016. That clears the 162-inning hurdle for his 2017 option to vest at $14 million. However, as Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors reports, the language in Iwakuma’s contract also stipulates that the right-hander finish the season without suffering a specific injury.
Iwakuma, 35, was in agreement with the Dodgers on a three-year contract back in December but failed the physical, which nullified the deal. He ended up signing with the Mariners on a one-year, $12 million deal with a full no-trade clause and club options for 2017 and ’18 that vest at specific inning thresholds (162 each or 324 for both seasons).
This season, Iwakuma has stayed healthy, making 26 starts to the tune of a 14-9 record, a 3.81 ERA and a 118/36 K/BB ratio in 163 innings.
Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki deposited a single to left-center field in the fourth inning of Monday night’s game against the Mets, then added a double to center field in the eighth. Those mark hits No. 3,010 and 3,011 for Suzuki in his major league career, tying and then moving past Wade Boggs for sole possession of 27th on baseball’s all-time hits list.
Suzuki would come around to score on a double by Xavier Scruggs to break a scoreless tie in the eighth.
Here’s the video of Ichiro’s first hit.
By the end of the season, Suzuki will have presumably moved ahead of Rafael Palmeiro (26th; 3,020) and Lou Brock (25th; 3,023).
Suzuki was 2-for-4 after the double. With baseball’s fifth month nearly complete, the 42-year-old is currently batting .298/.371/.373.