Tigers outfielder Brennan Boesch was hoping to put off thumb surgery until after the season, but the pain from his torn ligament has prevented him from swinging a bat and he made the decision Sunday to have the procedure now.
Boesch was one of the AL’s better corner outfielders during the first half of the season, hitting .306/.360/.490 with 12 homers, 57 runs scored and 44 RBI in 84 games before the All-Star break. Unfortunately, a thumb injury he sustained earlier in the season got a whole lot worse when he aggravated it on Aug. 10. He played scarcely afterwards and failed to drive in a run in any of his remaining eight appearances.
With Boesch done, the Tigers will hope that Magglio Ordonez or Andy Dirks can step up and claim the right-field job headed into the postseason. Ordonez had a big game Thursday, homering and doubling twice against the Royals. Still, he’s hitting just .239/.288/.321 in 293 at-bats. Dirks, a rookie, is batting .253/.296/.404 in 178 at-bats. The Tigers can also give Ryan Raburn time there if they wish. He’s hitting .239/.277/.402. Dirks, being the lefty swinger and the superior defender, would be the preferable choice to step into Boesch’s shoes.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.