UPDATE: I should probably start reading this blog once in a while, because it wasn’t until after I already posted this that I realized that Matthew posted on he same comments last night. He was far less self-righteous than I was about it, though, so I suppose both takes can stay up.
11: 18 AM: Longtime readers know my view on intentional plunkings and beanball wars: I hate ’em. A pitched ball could potentially kill a guy, so the idea of a pitcher intentionally aiming one at a batter is just abhorrent to me.
But obviously I’m out of step with major league baseball here, as there is a long and rich tradition of hit batsmen being avenged by a pitcher throwing at the other guys in retaliation. It largely goes unspoken because people tend to get fined when they admit that that’s what’s going on, but that is what’s going on.
And it’s not always unspoken. Take this from White Sox’ bench coach Mark Parent, who was asked about White Sox batters getting hit a lot last season:
One fan’s question to the coaching staff about the lopsided statistics brought much interest to a large crowd Sunday at SoxFest. “You hit our guy, we’ll hit your guy,” said new bench coach Mark Parent, whose reply was met with scattered applause.
Note: find the people who offered the applause and have nothing to do with them in the future.
I don’t know how you can cheer for that. I don’t know how any reasonable person can see their team’s player get hit and have their first impulse be “we need to hit them!” as opposed to “that pitcher needs to get ejected and suspended.”
And yes, I realize that this easily branches out into a discussion of the purposes of the criminal justice system, revenge vs. punishment, etc. etc. If you wanna have that discussion, great, let’s have it. The same considerations apply in my view.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.