Update: The early word is that Beltre has only a bruise on the back of his head. No concussion. He said after the game that he didn’t believe Padilla was throwing at him.
Vicente Padilla is known to be a head-hunter, but this one truly appeared to be an accident.
With two outs in the eighth inning tonight, Padilla drilled Adrian Beltre in the back of the helmet with a 92-mph fastball, sending Beltre to the ground in a heap. Beltre got up after a minute and wanted to stay in the game, but the Rangers made the smart decision to send in a pinch-runner.
Padilla was working in a tie game and had an 0-2 count on Beltre when the fastball appeared to get away from him. Had it been anyone else, there would have been no doubt it was an accident. Padilla doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt based on his history, but it still seems unlikely any malice was intended.
Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.
Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.
To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.