We heard earlier this week that the Rangers were considering moving Alexi Ogando back in the starting rotation. Well, they got the ball rolling in last night’s loss to the White Sox.
Last night’s starter, Yu Darvish, was knocked out of the ballgame after 6 1/3 innings, so Ogando ended up pitching the final 2 2/3 innings. The 28-year-old right-hander allowed two hits and two walks, including an RBI double to Alex Rios and a two-run homer to Alexei Ramirez in the top of the ninth. He ended up throwing a season-high 44 pitches, topping the 39 he threw over three innings in his spot-start against the Giants back on June 10.
According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth-Star Telegram, Rangers manager Ron Washington confirmed after the game that they are trying to stretch Ogando as a starting pitcher. If it happens, he would take the rotation spot of Colby Lewis, who is out for the season following surgery yesterday to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. The spot is currently being held down by Scott Feldman, who tossed seven innings of one-run ball against the Red Sox on Monday.
Ogando might not be needed in the rotation at all if the Rangers get someone Josh Johnson from the Marlins or James Shields from the Rays before Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline, but he’s a pretty nice “Plan B.”
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.