Craziness during the bottom of the eighth inning in Atlanta, as left field umpire Sam Holbrook called the infield-fly rule on a pop-up in shallow left field off the bat of Andrelton Simmons. However, it was far from a routine play.
The controversial play was some 30-40 feet into the outfield and the ball ended up falling between shortstop Pete Kozma and left fielder Matt Holliday. It was also a very late call by Holbrook, which was the major part of the argument by Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. Kozma tracked the ball for a long time, so it’s possible the sound of Holbrook’s voice caused him to back off the ball, perhaps thinking it was Holliday calling him off. It would have set up a bases loaded situation with one out.
The controversial call was met with anger from the Atlanta crowd, who threw all sorts of debris onto the field. It’s naturally a pretty dangerous situation for all involved, so both teams are currently off the field as order is trying to be restored. When play resumes, the Braves will have runners on second and third with the pitcher spot coming up. It’s 6-3 Cardinals.
As just relayed through the broadcast on TBS, the Braves will play the rest of the game under protest. Good luck with that.
UPDATE: Jason Motte walked Brian McCann to load the bases when play resumed, but Michael Bourn struck out swinging to end the threat. The Cards have a 6-3 lead going into the top of the ninth.
UPDATE II: Here’s video of the play in question.
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.