Last week I wrote about Carlos Zambrano tying Walter Johnson and Bob Gibson for the seventh-most homers by a pitcher in baseball history, but when Zambrano tweaked his back Saturday manager Ozzie Guillen suddenly wasn’t so interested in his power potential.
Here’s what Guillen told Joe Frisaro of MLB.com:
We’re going to cut down on his swings. He ain’t swinging no more. He’s done with that. Now he’s just going to bunt, bunt, and bunt. No more home run derby for him. You see Carlos, Carlos puts on a show when he hits. He does. That’s why we have to control that and make sure. I’m not going to say he’s not going to hit, but I don’t want him to. You don’t win games in batting practice. I don’t want him to start swinging the bat like that.
Zambrano has 24 homers in 682 at-bats and while his career .640 OPS is in backup catcher/utility infielder territory that production has been worth 75-100 runs more than a typical pitcher at the plate during that time. In other words, asking Zambrano not to take such big hacks might help him avoid some injuries but it would also take plenty of runs off the board for the Marlins’ lineup.
Zambrano’s next start is against the Rays under AL rules, so Guillen won’t have to worry about him hacking for a little while.
The Mets told Jay Bruce that the club plans on having him open the season as the everyday right fielder, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports. This comes as no surprise after the Mets failed to get any bites after dangling Bruce as a trade chip. The Mets reportedly wanted a pair of prospects in exchange for Bruce.
With Bruce in right, Yoenis Cespedes back in left, and Curtis Granderson in center, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out. He’ll either warm the bench or head back to Triple-A Las Vegas for regular at-bats.
Bruce, who turns 30 years old in April, had a rough final two months of the 2016 season after joining the Mets in a trade from the Reds. He hit a paltry .219/.294/.391 with eight home runs and 19 RBI in 187 plate appearances. Bruce, apparently, wanted to go anywhere but in New York.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have inked outfielder Eric Young, Jr. to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Young, 31, played in just six games and logged one plate appearance in the majors this past season with the Yankees. He last played regularly in 2014. While Young doesn’t do much with the bat, he could provide value as a pinch-runner. He also offers versatility, having played all three outfield positions along with second base.
The Angels have Ben Revere as their fourth outfielder and Jefry Marte behind him, so Young would need to have a very impressive showing in spring training to find a spot on the Angels’ roster.