Jose Valverde remains unsigned and except for a report linking him to the Marlins that was immediately shot down as being fueled by agent Scott Boras there’s been little even linking him to teams.
That’s surprising, because while Valverde’s performance has clearly declined he did save 35 games last season and a league-leading 49 games in 2011. Once upon a time those save totals alone would have been enough to keep him employed, but the closer role has (rightfully) lost some of its mystique.
Meanwhile, the Tigers haven’t decided who’ll replace him as closer and when asked about Valverde’s status manager Jim Leyland told Jayson Stark of ESPN.com that he’s “broken-hearted” and “totally shocked” to see him unsigned in mid-February.
Of course, presumably Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski consulted with Leyland before deciding not to re-sign Valverde and despite an uncertain ninth-inning situation the manager isn’t broken-hearted enough to make a late push to bring back Valverde.
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez has wasted no time acclimating himself to major league competition. Since getting called back up on August 3, Sanchez has smacked nine homers and driven in 16 runs in a span of 18 games. In fact, since August 3, no hitter has homered more than Sanchez and only Charlie Blackmon and Brian Dozier have matched him, Katie Sharp of River Ave Blues notes.
One of those homers came in Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Mariners at Safeco Field. It was a first-inning blast off of Hisashi Iwakuma, quickly giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead. They would go on to win 5-0. Sanchez finished 2-for-3 with a pair of intentional walks, a double, and the homer.
Some more fun facts about Sanchez, courtesy Sharp:
- Sanchez is the first Yankee in club history with nine home runs in his first 21 career games [Link]
- Sanchez is the third American League player in the last 100 years to hit at least nine home runs in his first 21 career games, joining George Scott and Alvin Davis [Link]
- Sanchez and Joe DiMaggio are the only Yankees with 15 or more extra-base hits in their first 21 career games [Link]
Sanchez was considered the fifth-best prospect in the Yankees’ minor league system, according to MLB Pipeline. In the majors, he’s carrying a .389/.450/.847 triple-slash line in 79 plate appearances. He has also thrown out five of seven would-be base-stealers.
American swimmer Katie Ledecky, fresh off of winning four gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janiero, Brazil, was in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday night to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Nationals’ game against the Orioles.
As NHL.com’s Katie Brown notes, Ledecky’s favorite player is Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, who was on the field with her. So what did she make him do? Hold all of her medals while she threw out the first pitch.
Harper has his fair share of hardware, including a Rookie of the Year Award and an MVP Award, but no gold medals. For shame.