Matt LaPorta “no longer wakes in the morning and wonders if he’ll be able to walk”

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Matt LaPorta was the seventh overall pick in the 2007 draft and the centerpiece of the trade package the Indians received for CC Sabathia in 2008, but his stock has dropped so much since then that he went unclaimed on waivers in November.

That was partly due to LaPorta simply not producing in the majors, but also because October hip surgery made him a big question mark for 2013. So he stayed with the Indians and now Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that at least the hip is no longer a huge problem for LaPorta:

He no longer wakes in the morning and wonders if he’ll be able to walk, much less play baseball. He can sleep through the night and bend over and tie his shoes if needed. The hip hurt LaPorta all last season, but he didn’t have surgery until Oct. 18. …

October’s surgery was the second LaPorta has had on his left hip in the past three years. The first was for a torn labrum. The second removed bone fragments from the joint. “What happened was after the first surgery was that my bone, as a reaction to them going in there, grew more bone,” said LaPorta. “It’s rare, but it happens. It was like have a square peg in a round hole. It was rubbing and some pieces were breaking off. They got stuck in there and I couldn’t move my leg as freely as I would have liked.”

“My bone grew more bone” seems like it should be the leader in the clubhouse for quote of 2013. Also: Gross.

Over the weekend the Indians signed Jason Giambi to further block LaPorta’s path to regular playing time and at age 28 he’s no longer even on the 40-man roster, so he’s running out of time to carve out a big-league career.

Yoenis Cespedes should be ready for Tuesday’s game

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The Mets are off today, and that day off may be just enough to get outfielder Yoenis Cespedes ready to start their next game, on Tuesday, against the Braves. At least that’s what he’s telling Mets manager Terry Collins.

Cespedes did not play in the weekend series against the Nationals, but was available as a pinch hitter yesterday. He was even on the on-deck circle at the end of last night’s game.

Cespedes, who tweaked his hammy running to second base on Thursday, is hitting .255/.364/.636 with six homers and 10 RBI in 15 games on the young season.

Marcus Stroman was called for an illegal quick pitch for some reason

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A “quick pitch” is an illegal action in which the pitcher pitches the ball before the batter is prepared. What makes a quick pitch a quick pitch? According to Rule 6.02(a)(5), it’s this:

 . . . Umpires will judge a quick pitch as one delivered before the batter is reasonably set in the batter’s box. With runners on base the penalty is a balk; with no runners on base, it is a ball. The quick pitch is dangerous and should not be permitted.

There are a couple of reasons why you don’t want quick pitches in baseball. In one respect, it’s about safety, as mentioned specifically in the rule. You don’t want a pitcher throwing a 90 m.p.h. fastball in the batter’s general direction if he’s not ready for it, because if it goes off course the batter will have no ability to defend himself and bail. But there’s also a spirit-of-the-game reason for it. The essence of baseball is the face-off between batter and pitcher. While everyone wants the game to move along promptly, the game isn’t really the game if the batter isn’t ready.

There is more art than science to all of this, of course, as all batters and pitchers have different pre-pitch routines, but when you watch a game, there’s a rhythm to all of that. You know the batter is gonna take a couple of practice swings and settle in. The pitcher tends to respect that. The quick pitch rule is rarely invoked for this reason.

It was used in yesterday’s Angels-Blue Jays game, however. And used badly in my view. Watch Marcus Stroman pitch to Kole Calhoun. The ump is Ramon DeJesus. The count was 3-1, so the automatic ball resulted in Calhoun being awarded first base:

Calhoun was obviously upset about something, calling time after Stroman is into his motion (which is not allowed) throwing his hands up and stuff after the pitch. But tell me, in what way was he not “reasonably ready” for that pitch, to use the language of the rule? He’s facing Stroman, looking at him. He’s done with his warmup swings, his bat is up and cocked and he’s standing in hitting position. I understand that it’s a judgment call by the umpire, but it seems to me like the umpire just called time too late because Calhoun didn’t feel ideally comfortable or something.

Either way, it set off Stroman and manager John Gibbons. Gibbons was ejected arguing the call. Stroman, who was otherwise excellent yesterday, was rattled for a bit, giving up a couple of hits and a run afterward. It was Calhoun who scored, natch.

It didn’t affect the outcome, but it certainly seemed like a bad call. And possibly a bad precedent, as batters may now try to lobby harder for quick pitch calls, given its success yesterday. Or, if umpires tend to think that was a bad call too, maybe they’ll overcompensate for it and be less likely to call quick pitches? You never know how this stuff will play out.

Whatever happens, I’ve been against Major League Baseball’s habit of increasingly taking judgment calls away from umpires, trying to make the subjective objective and making a flawed instant replay system the Supreme Court of Baseball Calls. But jeez, it’s hard to argue for allowing umps to hold on to judgment calls when they blow ’em like this.