OK, so I watched former MVP and longtime MLB second baseman Jeff Kent on the season premiere of “Survivor” last night and now I’m going to share a few details with you so I don’t feel completely silly about those 90 minutes of my life.
• Kent injured his knee before the first commercial break, losing his balance jumping from a boat to a raft. Once he got onto the actual island he played it off as no big deal so everyone else wouldn’t think he was at less than full strength, but Kent later guessed that he had a torn MCL.
• While limping around he wasted no time trying to build alliances and started scheming to get another player voted off the island. He also talked about what a big fan of “Survivor” he is and how that motivated him to sign up.
• Kent is attempting to keep his identity a secret and as far as I could tell only one of the other contestants recognized Kent as a former baseball player. And the woman who did recognize him didn’t tell anyone, so his secret is safe for now. However, she did wonder out-loud to the cameras whether “someone with $30 million” deserves to win the $1 million prize, so that figures to be an issue. And it wasn’t even an accurate number: Kent earned more than $85 million during 17 seasons in the majors.
• Despite the knee injury Kent quickly emerged as a leader, doing most of the heavy lifting in building his tribe some shelter. He told everyone about his farm in Texas and bonded with several people who view him as a fellow Southerner. Kent does have a farm in Texas, but he was born and raised in California.
• He played a big role in the immunity challenge, doing a good job paddling a boat to allow his teammates more time to solve a puzzle that ultimately won the challenge. That means he’s safe for at least one more week and, I guess, means I’m committed to watching this show for at least one more episode.
The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.
Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:
Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”
Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”
Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.
Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.
According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.
While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.