Alex Rodriguez is out of the starting lineup for the sixth straight game tonight due to a sprained left thumb. But it isn’t all bad news.
According to the Associated Press, Rodriguez was encouraged after taking batting practice this afternoon.
The difference? Following the advice of Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, A-Rod put a strip of athletic tape around his bat which allowed him to take batting practice pain-free.
“Today is a really good day,” Rodriguez said after hitting with two batting practice groups. “I’m really encouraged.”
“It was the best I’ve felt in over a month,” Rodriguez added. “There’s no question. Good idea by Kevin.”
While Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said earlier this week that the injury will likely linger into the postseason, anything that can help take pressure off the thumb is a very good thing. As of now, Yankees manager Joe Girardi hopes to have Rodriguez back in the lineup at third base on Saturday.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.