Josh Beckett: friend to the ocelot

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You can take away Josh Beckett’s beer and chicken. But don’t you touch his 7,000 acre hunting ranch. Or the ocelots that may or may not live there:

How did a pro baseball pitcher (Josh Beckett of the L.A. Dodgers), ocelots and a natural gas pipeline builder make it into the same news headline? They’re all part of a lawsuit filed by Beckett after the company used eminent domain to clear land on his 7,000-acre hunting ranch in south Texas.

Beckett says the gas pipeline takes too much of his land and threatens ocelot habitat that is protected by the Endangered Species Act. The gas pipeline builder says Beckett is really just trying to extract more money for the use of the land and is using the Endangered Species Act as leverage.

Obviously a story like this isn’t going to have all the details in it to know the truth. I will say, though, that based on my past life as a litigator who sometimes dealt with oil and gas pipeline matters, it is really common for landowners to cynically use the Endangered Species Act to hold up projects and/or get more money for oil and gas rights and/or rights of way.

Of course it’s entirely possible that Beckett truly does care about the ocelots. Just look at his tufted ears!

Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

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Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

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Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.

This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.

With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.