Even though the Braves are facing a right-hander in the Marlins’ Clay Hensley tonight, Jason Heyward is riding the pine in favor of the Braves’ newest sparkplug, Jose Constanza. It’s the second straight day on the bench for the 2010 All-Star, who is celebrating his 22nd birthday. He’s sitting even though he homered and walked in three plate appearances Sunday.
Constanza, a modern day Bo Hart, is 16-for-38 since debuting on July 29. He even homered Sunday against the Mets. He has two homers in 371 at-bats between Triple-A and the majors this season, matching his high total in seven seasons as a pro.
As much of a disappointment as Heyward has been this season, he’s still hitting .244/.339/.440 against right-handed pitchers. It’s hard to blame the Braves for wanting to keep Constanza in there when he’s on fire, but there’s a good argument for using Heyward over Martin Prado against a righty. Prado is hitting .265/.300/.412 versus right-handers, and the Braves are better defensively with Constanza in left and Heyward in right than with Prado in left and Constanza in right.
But Prado, even though he’s struggled moreso than Heyward since coming off the DL, is the established player and Heyward is still young and proving himself, at least in manager Fredi Gonzalez’s eyes. We’ll see how it plays out for the Braves, who have won four out of five games after a shaky start to the second half.
When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.
The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.
Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.
It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.
Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.
The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.
Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.
Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:
Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.