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.
After the Cubs won the World Series last month — their first since 1908 — owner Tom Ricketts said he plans to reach out to Steve Bartman to provide “closure.”
Bartman was the fan who interfered with left fielder Moises Alou’s attempt to catch a foul ball in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS against the Marlins. Alou was particularly irate about Bartman’s presence and it led to the fan becoming persona non grata in Chicago. In the time since, even before the Cubs won the World Series, the club has tried to make amends but Bartman has rejected offers to speak publicly and he has also rejected invitations to Wrigley Field.
Alou pledged to make time to attend any ceremony the Cubs stage for Bartman, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago-Sun Times reports.
Alou said, “Why not? I’d like to meet Bartman.” He continued, “I have nothing against the guy. I said it right after the game. I had the ball, and I got upset, but at the same time it’s not that kid’s fault. Everybody goes to the ballpark, and they bring a glove. Every wants to catch a fly ball.” However, He still maintains that he would have caught the ball if he had not been impeded.
The Diamondbacks announced on Monday that the club signed catcher Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $4 million contract.
Mathis, 33, isn’t much with the stick as he owns a career .197/.254/.308 triple-slash line over parts of 12 seasons in the majors. The veteran, though, is well-regarded for his ability to play defense, call games, handle a pitching staff, and get along with his teammates in the clubhouse. As Craig mentioned last year, Mathis is often talked about as a future manager.
The D-Backs non-tendered Welington Castillo on Friday, so Chris Herrmann and Mathis are the team’s two catchers as presently constructed.