New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox

Things got plunky in the Yankees-Red Sox game

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My musings from yesterday about the Yankees-Red Sox series getting boring still stand, though they probably need to be qualified in light of the fun little dustup in the seventh of last night’s game. No, the John Lackey plunking of Francisco Cervelli wasn’t A-Rod/Varitek or anything, but there was at least some fire there.

The scene: Cervelli hit a homer in the fifth. He doesn’t hit a lot of homers and this one was a blast. So you could understand that Cervelli was a bit enthused about it. He emphatically clapped his hands as he crossed home plate.  John Lackey and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia didn’t much care for it and the very next pitch Cervelli saw went straight into his back. Benches cleared and there was jawing, but no one fought. Probably because these two teams have a lot of old guys on them and no one wants to break a hip.

Lackey, because he doesn’t want to get suspended, says the plunking wasn’t intentional. But the chatter from him and Saltalamacchia after the game suggests otherwise. Lackey said it was “a bit much” and suggested that since Cervelli hadn’t hit a lot of home runs in his career that he doesn’t have room to celebrate.  Saltalamacchia — who is all of 26-years-old — decided to play the “kids today don’t respect nothin'” card:

“As far as the clapping goes, yeah, that could have been a little much. You don’t show anybody up … The game is changing. Younger guys are coming in. I’ve seen it. Elvis Andrus, Alcides Escobar over at short. I mean a lot of guys – the Latin players – that’s the way they play the game. And it’s OK to an extent. But if they go over that, you have to kind of step back.”

He later clarified that he wasn’t singling out Latin players and that he just didn’t speak too artfully. His real point was clear anyway: these kids today are out of control!

To which I offer a hearty “meh.”  Grow the hell up. Cervelli pumps his fist when he gets a good sandwich. He woops it up if he tosses a wadded up piece of paper into a trash can on the first try. If Cervelli gets one more home run in his career it’ll be a gift from the friggin’ gods, so let him have his little moments. It’d be different if he were offering a metaphorical “in your face,” but he wasn’t. He was merely celebrating the fact that, occasionally, he’s able to transcend his basic Francisco Cervelliness.

And like I said in the recaps this morning, if you don’t want guys like that celebrating home runs, don’t let guys like that hit home runs. It’s a skill the rest of baseball has totally mastered when it comes to Frank Cervelli, so it’s not too big a trick.

Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.