Robin Ventura wants A.J. Pierzynski batting second? Seriously?

22 Comments

Prepare for the White Sox offense to be a mess again.

New manager Robin Ventura said Saturday that he wants A.J. Pierzynski hitting second after Alejandro De Aza this season.

“He handles the bat great,” Ventura said. “He’s always a tough out. Not that he steals a lot of bases, but he handles the bat and does the appropriate things. He’s one of those guys who will hook it if you have to or put it the other way if they shift on him.”

Despite the fact that he practically never walks, Pierzynski has usually been a pretty good hitter. Even as a 34-year-old last season, he hit .287/.323/.405 in 464 at-bats. It’s also sort of admirable to see Ventura completely dismiss the speed component as a qualification for batting second.

What Ventura is completely overlooking here, though, is Pierzynski’s tendency to ground into double plays. Only eight major leaguers with 3,000 career plate appearances have grounded into double plays at a higher frequency than Pierzynski and most of them have gotten to hit with more men on base. For all of his great “bat handling,” Pierzynski has killed a whole bunch of rallies in his career.

And as it turns out, Ventura thinks Pierzynski hitting second is so important to the White Sox that he’s going to let it dictate who bats third.

“Once you put A.J. second, you don’t want to follow with Paulie (Konerko) and Adam (Dunn),” Ventura said. “Get somebody in there who can outrun them.”

Alex Rios, come on down!

Bruce Maxwell first MLB player to kneel during National Anthem

Getty Images
51 Comments

Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

Getty Images
2 Comments

This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.