Epstein: Zambrano will have to earn his way back

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The Cubs are turning a new page. New team president, new GM and soon a new manager.  It’s fresh start city at Wrigley. So the last thing they probably want is to deal with bad old business like Carlos Zambrano.

Theo Epstein, however, has continued to leave the door open to the possibility of Zambrano returning to Chicago. His latest comment to that effect came after a meeting with Zambrano’s agent yesterday when he said that Zambrano will have a chance to “earn his way back” to staying with the team. Here’s Epstein, quoted by Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com:

“I told him we’d give him the right to earn his way back to being a Cub. Nothing would be given to him.”

Can’t really take any other stance publicly, regardless of your actual intentions. Because, sure, it’s entirely possible that Epstein truly wants to simply cut this sunk cost and toxic presence from the roster. If he signals such an intention, however, he loses any chance of gaining anything — be it a marginal minor leaguer or a modicum of salary relief — from a team willing to take a chance on Big Z.

 

Aaron Judge was involved in a weird play in the fourth inning

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge found himself front-and-center in a weird play in the bottom of the fourth inning during Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday evening. Judge drew a walk to lead off the frame. After Didi Gregorius lined out, Gary Sanchez flied out to shallow right-center.

Judge must have thought the ball had a high probability of falling in for a hit, so he was past the second base bag around the time he realized his mistake. He retraced his steps, running back to first base. Reddick’s throw hopped a couple of times but first base umpire Jerry Meals called Judge out on the tag-up play.

Manager Joe Girardi requested a review and the call was overturned: Judge was safe. However, Astros manager A.J. Hinch wanted to challenge that Judge did not re-touch second base on his way back. Rather than issuing a formal challenge, the Astros had to appeal the play by having starter Lance McCullers throw to second base, at which point second base umpire Jim Reynolds would issue a ruling. McCullers was a bit hasty, though, and made his appeal throw before Greg Bird stepped into the batter’s box. Reynolds told McCullers that he had to wait. So, McCullers again made his appeal throw.

This time, Judge was running and he was simply tagged out at second base for the final out of the inning. No need for a review.

As Ken Rosenthal explained on the FS1 broadcast, the Yankees were trying to “beat the police.” They knew Judge would have been ruled out — replays clearly showed he never re-touched the base — so they had nothing to lose by sending Judge. If he was safe, the Astros would no longer be able to appeal the play. If he’s out, then it’s the same outcome they would have had anyway.