Not only is Jesus Montero one of the slowest runners in baseball, he runs … well, let’s say oddly. Jeff Sullivan of the Mariners blog Lookout Landing once described Montero’s running style as like “stepping on creaky floorboards and you’re trying not to wake up a baby.”
And as Greg Johns of MLB.com reports, Montero spent the offseason trying not to run so slowly and oddly:
“I spent a lot of time running and working on my techniques about running,” he said. “That’s what I did. I ran a lot and I learned how to run. Because last year … you know I’m slow, but I want to run a little better and gain a little more speed and all that. So that’s what I did, just run.”
Montero said he worked with a running specialist from Venezuela, as well as an instructor the Mariners sent to help him after observing his upright, awkward style in his first year in Seattle.
So does he feel faster now? “I feel good,” Montero said with a smile. “I’m learning how to run a little more beautiful, a little better, you know?”
I was going to make a joke about the absurdity of a 23-year-old professional athlete not knowing how to run, but then I remembered I’m a 30-year-old man who never learned how to shave with a non-electric razor and has instead spent the past decade with a constant five o’clock shadow like some sort of Jewish Don Johnson. Maybe I should go to Venezuela in search of a shaving expert, is the moral of this post basically.
The Yankees are facing a convoluted path to the postseason, and they didn’t do themselves any favors after Todd Frazier fell for Ryan Goins‘ hidden ball trick in the third inning of Friday’s series opener. With one out and Frazier on second base, Jacoby Ellsbury skied a deep fly ball to right field, where it was caught by Jose Bautista just shy of the warning track and tossed back to Goins at second. Goins faked the throw to Marco Estrada, then sneakily (or not so sneakily, depending on your vantage point) gloved the ball and caught Frazier off the bag for the third out.
Of course, it helped that Frazier’s back was turned during the throw, so Goins’ fake-out may not have been as obvious as it was when the Yankees reviewed the tape several minutes later.
Goins earned another spot on the highlight reel in the sixth inning, mashing his second grand slam of the season while Frazier — and the rest of the Yankees’ offense, sans one home-run-record-slaying Aaron Judge — scrambled to catch up. The Yankees currently trail the Blue Jays 8-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, and will need to pull off a comeback (and hope the Astros and Athletics clinch their respective games) before they can lay claim to a playoff spot.
The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.
Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.
With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.