Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque’s win was sealed with a kiss Sunday, as he opted to give the baseball a little sugar after snagging Yoenis Cespedes’ comebacker to end the top of the ninth.
Alburquerque kissed the ball before throwing it over to Prince Fielder for the out in a tie game. It was the only batter he’d face, and he was credited with the victory when the Tigers scored in the bottom of the ninth.
The A’s weren’t at all impressed by the gesture.
“It did get under my skin,” outfielder Josh Reddick said. “It was very unprofessional. I didn’t appreciate that one bit.”
One imagines the Tigers will tell Alburquerque not to do it again. If any Detroit reliever is going to make it a point to regularly show up the other team, it’s going to be Jose Valverde.
Following the Mets’ recent signing of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that fellow first baseman Dominic Smith is likely to start the season with Triple-A Las Vegas. That is contingent, of course, on the veteran Gonzalez’s ability to remain healthy, which isn’t a guarantee.
Smith, 22, struggled last season, batting .198/.262/.395 in 183 plate appearances. The Mets have also expressed concern about Smith’s conditioning. Puma reported in November that as a result of better dietary choices and a daily exercise regimen, Smith had already lost 11-12 pounds.
Gonzalez, 35, didn’t exactly have a stellar 2017 campaign. Along with battling back issues, Gonzalez hit .242/.287/.355 in 252 PA. That the Mets’ Plan A is to go with Gonzalez over Smith says something about their confidence in Smith.