Things may change once everyone gets an extended look at Yoenis Cespedes during spring training, but for now the A’s are said to be thinking about starting him in center field and incumbent center fielder Coco Crisp isn’t thrilled about the news.
Crisp, who re-signed with the A’s for two years and $14 million in December, told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he thinks leaving him in center field would be the best option:
I’m going to make all the plays. If someone feels there’s someone better than me, it’s hard for me to believe. Unless he’s a demigod come down from the heavens, no one is going to outshine me in center field.
“Unless he’s a demigod come down from the heavens, no one is going to outshine me in center field” might be the clubhouse leader for my favorite quote of the year.
And he’s probably right, because Crisp has generally graded out very well defensively in center field–his Ultimate Zone Rating was below average last season, but 30 runs above average for his career–and plenty of the scouting reports on Cespedes questioned whether he’d be best suited as a corner outfielder long term.
Crisp also noted that he chose to re-sign with the A’s in part because they offered him a chance to play center field, whereas the Rays wanted him as a left fielder. However, he also made it clear that ultimately he’ll play wherever the A’s want him. Whichever way the A’s align their outfield there will be a logjam, as Crisp and Cespedes playing every day would leave Seth Smith, Josh Reddick, Jonny Gomes, and Colin Cowgill fighting over one spot and possibly some designated hitter work … assuming Oakland doesn’t sign Manny Ramirez.
Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.
With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.
The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.
The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.
Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.
It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.