UPDATE: Things were looking pretty bleak after Bonifacio sprained his left thumb, but the Marlins received some good news this afternoon. According to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post, the sprain isn’t as severe as initially believed and Bonifacio could be back in about two or three weeks.
10:48 AM: The Marlins’ season just keeps getting worse, as Emilio Bonifacio left the second game of yesterday’s doubleheader against the Nationals after aggravating a left thumb injury while trying to make a diving play at second base in the ninth inning.
Bonifacio already missed nearly two months earlier this season following surgery to repair torn ligaments in the same thumb. According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, Bonifacio was diagnosed with a sprained thumb and was in tears after the game. Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said he isn’t expecting him back this season.
“When he was on the ground, I knew something was bad,” Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I just saw it right away. Same thumb. Same injury. I don’t expect him back this year.”
Bonifacio has mostly played center field this year, but he recently took over the starting second base job after Omar Infante was traded to the Tigers. The 27-year-old speedster is hitting .261/.335/.321 with one home run, 11 RBI and a .655 OPS this season. He’s tied for second in the majors with 30 stolen bases, despite appearing in just 61 games.
Nick Green is expected to be called up from Triple-A New Orleans to replace Bonifacio on the active roster. The 33-year-old infielder is a .237 hitter in the majors, but he’s batting .344/.397/.599 with 12 homers and a .996 OPS in 63 games with the Zephyrs this season.
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.