Interleague games in AL ballparks gave the Cubs a short-term opportunity to call up first base prospect Anthony Rizzo and play him without having to bench anyone, but they passed on the chance and so Rizzo continues to be a nightmare for Triple-A pitchers.
He homered twice Sunday and two more times Monday, and Rizzo is now hitting .370 with 22 homers, 16 doubles, and a .753 slugging percentage in 59 games for a 1.183 OPS that leads all of minor-league baseball.
Toss in the damage he did as a minor leaguer while in the Padres’ farm system last season and Rizzo has the following career numbers at Triple-A: .345 batting average with 48 homers, 50 doubles, 158 RBIs, and a 1.093 OPS in 152 games.
Based on merit alone he’d presumably already be in Chicago, but because finding a spot for him in the lineup would require shifting Bryan LaHair to the outfield and/or lessening the role of a suddenly hot-hitting Alfonso Soriano the 22-year-old Rizzo is left to do his Babe Ruth impression in Iowa against a bunch of pitchers with no shot to get him out.
Just a few days after inking him to a minor league deal, the Braves have released first baseman James Loney, the team announced on Monday. Loney became expendable when the Braves acquired Matt Adams from the Cardinals on Saturday as a replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman.
Loney, 33, appeared in two games at Triple-A Gwinnett. He had one hit, a single, and one walk in eight plate appearances.
Loney will likely have to wait for another team to deal with an injured first baseman or DH before he can secure another contract.
Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.
Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list
Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.