Now that the Royals have officially picked Jonathan Broxton as Joakim Soria’s replacement nearly every team has named their closer, but one holdout is the guy with the least managing experience in the bunch (which is to say no managing experience).
Robin Ventura played coy with the media yesterday, refusing to disclose his closer while saying that the relievers “will know before the game” and “it’s not like I’m asking them to hit or catch, they’re just going to pitch … I think they’ll be fine.”
Pitching coach Don Cooper also told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that they definitely aren’t going with a closer-by-committee approach, saying: “There will be a set closer. Everything is going to be set. Bullpen positions will be set, and guys will know when they are pitching.”
In other words, they’re just keeping it a secret from the media and, by extension, the fans.
So who will actually wind up closing games early on? Matt Thornton, Addison Reed, Jesse Crain, and Hector Santiago are the options, with Thornton having the most ninth-inning experience and Reed having the most long-term upside in the role. Most reporters covering the team seem to think Thornton will start out with the gig, but Ventura’s secrecy about the whole thing might hint at one of the rookies getting the nod.
Padres’ outfielder Alex Dickerson won’t see PETCO Park anytime soon — at least, not as its starting left fielder. The 27-year-old was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his lower back prior to the start of the 2017 season, and hasn’t made any kind of substantial progress in the months since. According to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, he suffered a setback in his recovery process last week and is set to undergo a season-ending discectomy next Wednesday.
Over 285 plate appearances, Dickerson batted .257/.333/.455 with 10 home runs and a .788 OPS for the Padres in 2016. He missed several days with a right hip contusion last July, but hasn’t experienced any substantial health problems since undergoing surgery in 2014 to repair a torn ligament in his left ankle.
The expected recovery period for lower back surgery is 3-4 months, according to Lin, which puts Dickerson’s estimated return just a few days before the end of the regular season. The Padres aren’t scraping the bottom of the NL West, but their 29-44 record doesn’t bode well for a postseason run this year. Assuming Dickerson rehabs his back in a timely manner, he should be in fine form to enter the competition for left field next spring.
Hanley Ramirez played a pivotal role during the Red Sox’ 9-4 win over the Angels on Friday night, crushing a two-run homer off of Alex Meyer to bring the Sox up to a four-run lead in the fourth inning.
Well, crushed might be the wrong word. The ball cleared the right field fence with a mere 350 feet, landing just beyond Pesky’s Pole to bring Ramirez’s career home run total to an even 250.
According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, Ramirez’s milestone blast wasn’t the shortest home run of the year — not by a long shot. That distinction currently belongs to Rays’ outfielder Corey Dickerson, who skimmed the left field fence at Rogers Centre with a 326-foot homer back in April.