Among other duties Johnny Narron has served as Josh Hamilton’s “accountability partner” since 2009, but he left the team last month to become the Brewers’ new hitting coach and now the Rangers are searching for a new person to keep the former MVP in line on the road.
“We’re working on it,” Hamilton told Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas. “I’m sure you’ll hear more in the next few days.”
As for what exactly an “accountability partner” entails, Jean-Jacques Taylor of ESPN Dallas offered some details in a column earlier this month:
Hamilton is a 30-year-old man with a wife and four kids. Ultimately, he’s responsible for his own actions. But anyone who has ever been an addict or alcoholic, or had an addict or alcoholic in their immediate family, knows staying clean requires more than good intentions or catchy slogans like, “Just say no.”
Narron helped keep Hamilton’s mind right when he was in a slump. Or a funk. He was the guy in the adjoining hotel room on the road that Hamilton could talk to when the slugger wanted to discuss God’s plan for his life at 2 a.m. Or when the devil urged Hamilton to take a drink or use drugs.
It won’t make as many headlines as a new closer or even a backup infielder, but finding a new “accountability partner” for Hamilton could be the most important addition of the Rangers’ offseason.
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.
Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.
In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”
Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.
Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.