As we have all learned over the years, initial reports of celebrity deaths are often wrong. One hopes that is the case here, but as of now, two Spanish language newspapers are reporting that former major league pitcher Pascual Perez was murdered in a robbery in his home this morning in the Dominican Republic.
The reports come from the Dominican Republic newspapers “Hoy,” and “Diaro Libre,” each of which report that Perez was killed by an intruder in his home during a robbery in the early morning hours. We will update with any further confirmation, including any English-language reports that come out. UPDATE: The official Twitter of the Montreal Expos (note: how can a non-existent team’s Twitter be official?) is saying the reports are true.
Perez was one of the game’s great characters and unique talents. He compiled a 67-68 record with a 3.44 ERA and 822 strikeouts in 1244.1 innings for the Pirates, Braves, Expos and Yankees between 1980 and 1991. He may have been better known for his non-pitching exploits, however.
He threw eephus pitches. He’d check the runners on base by bending over and looking at them between his legs. He once famously missed a start for the Braves in 1982 when he could not find Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium as he circled I-285. Which was strange, because it was his third home game for the Braves which meant that he had found the park previously. Someone made a pretty sweet poster commemorating the event. He was flamboyant on the mound, taunting the opposition and often causing brawls.
On a sadder note, he was arrested for cocaine in the Dominican Republic during the 1983-84 offseason and missed playing time because of it. Later, he was suspended for violating the league’s drug policy, which ended his career.
David Meadvin and Larry Koestler wrote a definitive profile of Perez over at River Ave. Blues last winter. Go check it out.
Bad news for a colorful figure in baseball history.
Rangers rookie outfielder Nomar Mazara crushed the longest home run of the season to date, according to Statcast, with a 491-foot shot to the upper deck in right field against the Angels on Wednesday afternoon. With the bases empty and no outs in the second inning, Angels lefty Hector Santiago threw a 1-1 off-speed pitch, which did not fool Mazara in the slightest.
Statcast measured it at 491 feet. Giancarlo Stanton previously had the longest home run at 475 feet off of Hector Neris on May 6. Franklin Gutierrez hit a 491-foot shot on Saturday against Reds pitcher John Lamb.
Mazara entered the afternoon hitting a terrific .317/.364/.483 with seven home runs and 18 RBI in 162 plate appearances.
The Blue Jays announced on Wednesday afternoon that the club has activated second baseman Devon Travis from the disabled list. To create roster space, ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte has been optioned to Triple-A Buffalo.
Travis, 25, last played on July 28 last year. He battled a shoulder injury for which he would undergo season-ending surgery. He burst onto the scene as a productive rookie, batting .304/.361/.498 with eight home runs and 35 RBI in 239 plate appearances before being sidelined.
Thus far, Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney have handled second base for the most part for the Jays. But the club has gotten a meager .585 OPS out of the position, the lowest mark in the league. The return of Travis should be quite a boon. He is batting eighth in Wednesday night’s lineup against the Yankees.
It’s probably not a big shocker that a pitcher is not a big fan of the strike zone being made smaller, but Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals and he tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he is not a fan of the proposed changes to the strike zone we wrote about recently, calling the proposal “a horrible, horrible idea.”
Horrible, he acknowledges, because he’s a pitcher with a vested interest so, yes, let’s give Wainwright credit for self-awareness and for disclosing his self-interest. But he thinks it’s a bad idea for another reason too: more hits will lead to more balls in the gap and thus longer games.
I get the intuitive nature of that — the longer it takes to retire a side the longer games go — but it doesn’t necessarily follow that offense and game times are related in the way Wainwright implies. There was a lot more scoring in the 1990s and early 2000s and games were actually shorter then than now. Partially because of other factors (i.e. there were not quite as many pitching changes and because guys played at a faster clip). Partially, I suspect, because there were fewer strikeouts and strikeouts take a longer time than guys grounding out or having some of those balls in the gap caught on the run by a fast outfielder.
As I said last week, I suspect that we’ll see fewer balls in the gap than Wainwright implies and, rather, a lot more walks as pitchers test umpires to see if they’re really taking away that low strike. In the short term that’ll actually make games longer, though not for the reason Wainwright thinks.
SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo hears from a source that former major leaguer Jonny Gomes has decided to retire from baseball. The 35-year-old spent the 2016 season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Japan Pacific League, but he struggled at the plate, batting .169/.280/.246 in 75 plate appearances. Gomes left the Eagles by mutual consent back on May 11.
Gomes won a championship with the Red Sox in 2013 and the Royals last year. He ends a 13-year major league career having hit .242/333/.436 with 162 home runs in 4,009 trips to the plate.
Gomes was known as a clubhouse leader during his playing career, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up coaching or managing in some capacity in the future.