David Ortiz won’t risk Achilles with free agency looming

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Out since  July 17 with a strained Achilles’ tendon, David Ortiz wants to come back and play for the Red Sox as soon as possible. However, he made it clear Sunday that he’s thinking ahead to his upcoming free agency in deciding not to rush his return.

“If you go back and play sore, of course you could [tear it]. It’s not healed. It’s not ready and I don’t want to run that risk,” Ortiz told CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty. “I’m a free agent after this year and I don’t want to have a surgery going into free agency.”

It’s hard to blame Ortiz for thinking that way after what happened with Ryan Howard last year. Howard, playing on a sore Achilles, ruptured the tendon on the Phillies’ very last play of the season and missed nine months before returning July 6. If Ortiz were to suffer a similar injury, it’d ruin his chances of landing a multiyear deal and probably cost him a few million dollars in salary next year.

Still, Ortiz’s complaints about his contract situation can’t be endearing him to a Red Sox front office that has never been shy about paying the man. Of course, the Red Sox look at the history of designated hitters in their mid-30s and Ortiz’s body type and only want to go year to year with him. They see that as smart baseball sense. Ortiz looks at the deals handed to guys like John Lackey and Carl Crawford and sees his one-year contract as a lack of respect.

Ortiz will keep testing his Achilles with the hopes of returning in the near future. Currently five games back of the second wild card spot in the AL, the Red Sox desperately need him in the middle of their lineup.

 

Javier Baez: “This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it.”

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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.”

Mike Trout proposes change to spring training umpiring

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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.