Fan who allegedly yelled racial slur at Carl Crawford is a police officer, could lose his job

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Remember last week when a fan allegedly yelled racist stuff at Carl Crawford during a rehab game in New Hampshire? Well, the next day the fan took to the Internet and called in to a radio station to defend himself. And in doing so, he seems to have outed himself.

Turns out he’s a Leominster, Massachusetts police officer. One who, as you’ll see below, has apparently had a tragic past year, and now, in light of the Crawford business, could lose his job:

Leominster authorities launched an internal investigation into whether one of the city’s police officers is the heckler responsible for shouting a racial slur at Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford during a minor league game last week in Manchester, N.H. … Leominster officials opened the investigation earlier this week after receiving a number of tips and complaints.

The mayor of Leominster says in this NECN report that the officer could lose his job over this.

Reader BigLeagues passed those links along to me, as well as some stuff from last week I missed about who this police officer is.  When he called in to WEEI the day after the alleged incident to defend himself, he identified himself as “Thomas,” and said he didn’t yell any slurs at Crawford, only heckled him over being a big money, no production ballplayer. In the comments section to the WEEI story, he used the name “Thomas Johnson” and “Tom from NH.”  The comment name links to a Facebook page under the name “Thomas Johnson” with a police department patch as its avatar, but not a Leominster one.*

BigLeagues was curious about this story and did some Googling.  He tells me that on WEEI, Thomas/Tom from NH/Thomas Johnson said he was 32 years-old, raced cars in his spare time and, last fall, he and his wife suffered the loss of his baby son.  A search by BigLeagues reveals this story about a Thomas Johnson who is 32 years-old, lives in a New Hampshire town about 30 miles from Leominster, races cars and lost his son last fall. Sounds like the same dude.

What to make of all of this? I don’t know. It’s unclear if this guy yelled slurs at Crawford (the reports reveal this to be a Crawford’s word against Thomas Johnson’s word thing at the moment). If he did, he might get fired. And if it’s the same guy from that last story, I think it’s safe to say that he’s having an awful year and probably could use help from someone.

*A Twitter follower tells me that the police patch on Thomas Johnson’s Facebook page is from Greenland, New Hampshire. This spring four officers were shot, and the police chief killed, in a shootout in Greenland back in April, which presumably makes the Facebook pic a tribute. Gosh, this is all kinds of horrible.

(big thanks and props to BigLeagues for handing me all of this stuff)

Jon Gray will start Opening Day for the Rockies

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Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.

Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.

The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.

Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.

Blake Treinen named Nationals closer

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Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.

There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.

Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.