Pitching with a new delivery and a damaged shoulder that didn’t require surgery, Tommy Hanson gave up three runs — two earned — in one-plus innings Sunday against the Blue Jays in his spring debut.
Hanson turned in a one-two-three first, but he didn’t retire any of the four hitters he faced in the second before a rain delay halted his outing. Some of that was the defense’s fault, as Freddie Freeman committed an error behind him. Some of it was his fault, like when he gave up a two-run homer to one of baseball’s worst hitters in Jeff Mathis.
“The first inning was a lot more fun than the second,” Hanson told MLB.com. “I was getting balls that were soaked and wet and the mound was drenched. But it was still fun. When I was out there, I was just laughing about it because I was glad to be back out there on the mound. It was fun to compete again. It was one of those conditions where I didn’t really care what happened because it didn’t matter. It was almost like I was a little kid playing in the rain again.”
Hanson missed the final two months of last season and was diagnosed with a minor tear in his rotator cuff. The new delivery he’s working with this spring was designed to make him quicker to the plate, but it’s also supposed to be easier on his shoulder.
“I felt great,” Hanson said. “Obviously, my command was a little bit off, but my body felt really good. I made some good pitches at times.”
Hanson is expected to open the season as the Braves’ No. 2 starter.
The Reds announced on Thursday that the protective netting at Great American Ball Park will be extended to the end of each dugout in time for Opening Day next season. The press release notes that the current netting meets Major League Baseball’s guidelines and the new netting will go beyond those standards.
The netting “debate” came back on Wednesday when a young fan was struck in the face by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees have done about the bare minimum in installing protective netting, which rightly earned them criticism. Brian Dozier, Todd Frazier, and Didi Gregorius each said yesterday that the netting should be extended. Other teams and Major League Baseball in general received criticism. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, for example, said the relative lack of action on MLB’s part is “morally repugnant.”
Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes that the Reds had already had this idea prior to Wednesday’s incident at Yankee Stadium.
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become eligible for free agency after the 2018 season and is likely to get a windfall. The club, however, isn’t expected to pursue trading their star at the hot corner this offseason, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.
Machado, 25, has been one of baseball’s best players since debuting in 2012. He had a slow start to the 2017 season, seeing his OPS nearly drop below .700 in early July, but a strong second half has made his overall numbers more than respectable. Machado is batting .264/.318/.484 with 32 home runs and 92 RBI in 651 plate appearances while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense at third base.
Just because the Orioles don’t plan to move Machado this offseason doesn’t mean they won’t try to recoup some value ahead of next year’s non-waiver trade deadline. According to Heyman, a person involved with the Orioles said, “It would take us 35 years to find another player like him.”