The scene: Nationals Park, during the fifth inning of the last night’s Cubs-Nats game, Nats up 7-2. The incident: Cubs bench coach Jamie Quirk is jawing from the dugout — after he was ejected umpire Jerry Layne referred to it as “screaming out obscenities,” and Nats third-base coach Bo Porter jawed right back at him. The reason, according to Cubs catcher Steve Clevenger:
“You’re up 7-2, Lendy Castillo’s pitching, it’s 3-0. You don’t swing in that situation”
This referring to Jayson Werth swinging at a 3-0 pitch just prior. Also agitating the Cubs was the fact that the Nats stole two bases that inning.
The next inning, things got chippier, when Castillo threw at Bryce Harper. Benches cleared. While everyone later said the requisite “he didn’t mean to do that” stuff, Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com observes that Clevenger didn’t move an inch to catch the ball that Harper had to jump out of the way to avoid, so he knew where that pitch was headed. And then he was in the middle of the scrum that developed. Quirk was ejected, as was Clevenger and Cubs reliever Manny Corpas.
The overall assessment: total amateur hour by the Cubs. Maybe it’s wrong for 12 year-olds to run up the score on one another, but this is the big leagues. Guys are going to steal bases and swing on 3-0. They won’t stop trying just because you’re getting your asses kicked all over the park. Don’t like your asses getting kicked all over the park? Play better.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.