Catcher Ryan Lavarnway homered yet again on Thursday. He’s hitting .514 with seven homers in his last nine games for Triple-A Pawtucket.
Lavarnway, a 2008 sixth-round pick out of Yale, has been on a tear since the day the Red Sox traded Michael McKenry to to the Pirates to clear a spot for him on Pawtucket’s roster. He’s hit .377/.445/.746 with 12 doubles, 12 homers and 33 RBI in 34 games in the International League, and he’s up to 26 homers in 338 at-bats for the season overall.
This isn’t coming out of nowhere. Lavarnway hit .285/.367/.540 with 21 homers and 87 RBI at low Single-A Greenville in 2009 and .288/.393/.489 with 22 homers and 102 RBI between high-A Salem and Double-A Portland last season. Still, he wasn’t taken very seriously as a prospect because of his defensive issues. Lavarnway didn’t start catching until he was a sophomore at Yale, and most don’t believe he’ll stick behind the plate in the majors.
The Red Sox, for what it’s worth, continue to claim otherwise, and it doesn’t appear to be a gimmick to enhance his trade value. But even if they’re wrong, with what Lavarnway has showed this year, there’s now some hope that he’ll be able to make it in the majors as a first baseman or designated hitter. The 24-year-old is tied for fourth in the minors in homers, even though he’s played in pitcher’s leagues. His Triple-A OPS is 1.191. The next highest mark for anyone to get 100 at-bats in the International League this year is Trevor Plouffe’s 1.019.
It doesn’t sound like there are any plans for the Red Sox to make room for him at the major league level. The duo of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek has been very good since an awful April, and there’s really no room for Lavarnway to contribute elsewhere. Still, he is now in a position to step in at catcher or DH should Salty, Varitek or David Ortiz land on the DL. And he’ll definitely get a look in September, even if it’s just in a pinch-hitting role.
Angels’ right-hander Garrett Richards has been moved to the 60-day disabled list, according to a team announcement on Saturday. Richards was originally placed on the 10-day disabled list in early April after sustaining a right biceps cramp during his first start of the season. No timetable has been given for his return to the mound, though Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times speculates that his return date could be pushed back to June.
While the Angels report that Richards is making some progress in his recovery, he’s still experiencing some “irritation of the cutaneous nerve,” which could be preventing him from working back up to full strength. The veteran righty already missed 154 days of the 2016 season after suffering a UCL injury, and opted for biometrics surgery to repair the ligament rather than undergoing a more intensive Tommy John procedure.
This is Richards’ seventh season with the Angels. He last pitched a full, healthy season in 2015, delivering a 3.65 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 207 1/3 innings. He’s currently one of eight Angels pitchers serving time on the disabled list, including left-hander Andrew Heaney and right-handers Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Vicente Campos, Huston Street, Mike Morin and Nick Tropeano.
When it comes to home run trots, Adam Rosales is still the guy to beat. The Athletics’ shortstop led off the first inning of Saturday’s matinee against the Mariners with a solo shot to center field, and made it all the way around the bases in record time — 15.9 seconds, to be precise. That’s 0.06 seconds faster than the previous record, which Rosales set himself last September on a 15.96-second run.
In fact, as MLB.com’s Michael Clair points out, Rosales holds eight of the 10 fastest home run trots recorded by Statcast. (The other two, naturally, belong to the Reds’ speedy center fielder Billy Hamilton.) Eight of those 10 trots were recorded in 2016, with Rosales gradually inching his way toward the 15-second mark.
The blast was the first of two home runs for the A’s, who tacked on a couple of runs with Ryon Healy‘s two-RBI homer and capped their 4-3 win over the Mariners with a productive out from Khris Davis in the third inning. It’s the fifth straight victory for the A’s this week.