I feel terrible for the man who died in the stands at Rangers Ballpark on Thursday night and even worse for his young son. But it’s impossible not to have equal sympathy for Josh Hamilton.
The foul ball that Hamilton threw into the stands is going to haunt the man for the rest of his life. How will he be able to sleep tonight or any other night in the near future knowing that if he just threw the ball a little farther, some boy’s father would still be alive?
The answer is that he probably won’t. And for this to happen to Hamilton of all ballplayers seems particularly sadistic. Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP, nearly lost his career to drugs before it even got started, and he only put his life back together by putting himself into the Lord’s hands.
And Hamilton still has his demons. When it looked like he might slip back into drinking a couple of years ago, he swore off alcohol. The Rangers, maybe sensing his fragility, celebrated with ginger ale after winning the ALDS and the ALCS in 2010.
One can only hope that Hamilton is able to put the incident behind him in the coming months, and that he has the strength to withstand those substances that may offer temporary relief but leave him far worse off for the long run. Baseball certainly seems like a secondary concern at the moment, but the diamond is Hamilton’s safe haven and he’ll have the good fortune to be surrounded by teammates day in and day out.
The pain doesn’t figure to go away anytime soon. But here’s hoping it only makes him stronger.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.