As it turned out, Anthony Rizzo wasn’t quite ready to make the big jump from the PCL to the majors.
After hitting just .143/.282/.265 with one homer and six RBI in 98 at-bats, Rizzo was sent back to Triple-A Tucson on Thursday. He was 0-for-13 since play resumed after the All-Star break.
Taking his spot is big Kyle Blanks, who hit .351/.421/.716 with 11 homers and 35 RBI in 134 at-bats after replacing Rizzo at Tucson. Blanks was long considered the heir apparent to Adrian Gonzalez at first base for the Padres, but San Diego decided it to try him in left field in 2009. He hit, but he couldn’t stay healthy there, suffering a season-ending foot injury that season and then missing most of 2010 after Tommy John surgery.
Blanks is listed at 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds, so he always made a lot more sense at first base anyway. Still, he’s not quite the talent that Rizzo is and it remains to be seen if he’ll fit into the Padres’ long-term plans. He’ll probably take over as the Padres’ primary first baseman against righties for now. Jesus Guzman had been starting over Rizzo against lefties and doing excellent work in that role. Blanks, like Guzman, is a right-handed hitter, but he’s probably the better bet of the two versus righties.
Hopefully, Rizzo sees his first taste of failure in the majors as a learning experience. Just 21, he was never supposed to see San Diego this year anyway, at least not until September. He’s definitely a top talent, but he does need to cut back on the strikeouts a bit. The Padres will probably leave him in Triple-A until rosters expand, and if things go as hoped, he can battle Blanks for the starting job next spring.
When he’s not throwing baseballs, Twins pitcher Trevor May is an active gamer. He streams on Twitch, a very popular video game streaming site, fairly regularly and now he’s officially on an eSports team. Luminosity Gaming announced the organization added May last Friday. It appears he’ll be streaming and commentating on Overwatch, a multiplayer first-person shooter made by Blizzard Entertainment.
May is the only current athlete to be an active member of an eSports team. Former NBA player Rick Fox owns Echo Fox, an eSports team that sports players in games including League of Legends, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Street Fighter V, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Mortal Kombat X. Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is also a known advocate of eSports.
The NBA in particular has been very active on the eSports front. Kings co-owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov launched NRG eSports in November 2015. Shortly thereafter, Grizzlies co-owner Stephen Kaplan invested in the Immortals eSports team. Almost a year later, the 76ers acquired controlling stakes in Team Dignitas and Team Apex. The same month, the Wizards’ and Warriors’ owners launched a group called Axiomatic, which purchased a controlling stake in Team Liquid, a long-time Starcraft: Brood War website which has since branched out into other games. And also in September 2016, Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko bought team Renegades, moving them to a group house in Detroit. In December 2016, the Bucks submitted a deal to Riot Games in order to purchase Cloud9’s Challenger league spot for $2.5 million. The Rockets that month hired someone specifically for eSports development, focusing on strategy and investment. Last month, the Heat acquired a controlling stake in team Misfits.
Once an afterthought, eSports has grown considerably in recent years and now it should be considered a competitor to traditional sports. League of Legends, in particular, is quite popular, reaching nearly 15 million concurrent viewers at its peak in the most recent League of Legends World Championship. That championship featured a prize purse of $6.7 million with $2 million of it being split among winner SK Telecom T1’s members.
The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.
Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.