And now, a humble moment from Tony La Russa

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People’s mileage tends to vary on Tony La Russa.  No one denies his success, but he does get criticized for his style.

For example, he’s been accused of cultivating that whole “I am a baseball genius” thing, which grinds folks’ gears.  In fairness it isn’t anything he’s ever explicitly said, of course. It’s just an inference many have made based on watching him over 30 years or however long he’s been around. How much of that is a part of his personality and how much of that is merely our defensive reaction upon watching someone who, to be honest, could very well be smarter than his peers is an interesting question.

But whatever the truth of the matter is, La Russa is capable of some humble perspective. Like he showed in this interview with Marc Topkin of the St. Pete Times, when asked about his massive victory total:

From the White Sox to the A’s to the Cardinals, I have never not had the good fortune of the ownership and the front office and the players. If you ask (Rays adviser) Don Zimmer right now to put a hand on the Bible, or a Racing Form, and you say, you’re going to tell me if Jim Leyland had been in Chicago, Oakland and St. Louis, he’d probably tell you — and I would agree — that he’d have more wins than I have. Or Jim would have the 2,000 and I would have the 1,000. So when you look at the good fortune of the organizations, and you look at your friends and your peers, it’s tough to take (the success) personally. You appreciate the good fortune and leave it at that.

The rest of the interview is pretty interesting too, particularly his take on PEDs and the Hall of Fame.  Worth a read on a slow day.

Rays acquire RHP Drew Smith from Tigers

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The Rays acquired minor league reliever Drew Smith from the Tigers on Friday, per a team announcement. The move will close the loop on the trade the two teams began in January for backup outfielder Mikie Mahtook.

Smith, 23, pitched his first full season in Single-A West Michigan in 2016, turning in a 2.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 11.5 SO/9 in 48 2/3 innings. The right-hander is still several levels away from making any impact on the Rays’ major league roster, but appears to be progressing steadily in two seasons of pro ball and has delivered two runs, four walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 11 2/3 innings at High-A Lakeland this season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he’ll be reassigned to the Rays’ High-A Charlotte this week.

Yankees activate Didi Gregorius from the disabled list

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The Yankees have activated shortstop Didi Gregorius from the 10-day disabled list, the club announced on Friday. Infielder Pete Kozma was designated for assignment to clear roster space.

Gregorius, 27, suffered a strained right shoulder while playing in the World Baseball Classic last month. He’s in Friday’s starting lineup, batting sixth against the Orioles.

Last season, Gregorius hit .276/.304/.447 with 20 home runs and 70 RBI in 597 plate appearances.