Barring a last-minute change Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli will start Game 7 tonight despite suffering what appeared to be pretty significant injuries last night.
Napoli rolled his ankle running the bases, but stayed in to catch the final eight innings and X-rays taken afterward were negative. Speed has never been part of Napoli’s game anyway, so handling the pain defensively figures to be the biggest issue for the series’ leading MVP candidate.
Cruz was double-switched out of last night’s game in the 11th inning after straining his groin, but he’ll join Napoli in trying to gut things out. He failed to make a play on a fly ball to right field that turned into David Freese’s game-tying, two-run triple in the ninth inning, so Cruz’s mobility in the outfield will definitely be worth keeping an eye on.
Toss in Josh Hamilton’s groin injury and Matt Harrison will want to do whatever he can to keep the ball on the ground all night.
The Braves have signed former football player and current outfielder Sanders Commings, an Augusta, Georgia native, to a minor league contract, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports.
Commings, 26, was a defensive back who played for the University of Georgia before being selected by the Chiefs in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. He appeared in two games in the 2013 season.
Commings also played baseball for Westside High School and was selected by the Diamondbacks in the 37th round of the 2008 draft. He chose to attend the University of Georgia instead. When football didn’t pan out, Commings started training with Jerry Hairston, Jr. Hairston said he was “blown away” when he saw Commings hit for the first time.
Obviously, Commings’ path to success as a professional baseball player will be long, but it’s a no-risk flier for the Braves. The club has past experience with football players, including Deion Sanders and Brian Jordan.
The next task for the Braves will be to acquire Ryan Goins from the Blue Jays. That way, players will look at the lineup card each day to see if it’s Commings or Goins.
On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”
Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:
To that, Archer said:
For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.