It’s official: Chris Davis is the hottest hitter on the planet right now.
Davis’ early season rampage continued in the Orioles’ home opener this afternoon, as he delivered a go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning to lead the club to a 9-5 comeback win over the Twins.
The opposite-field blast capped a five-run rally. The table was set when Twins manager Ron Gardenhire elected to walk Nick Markakis intentionally to load the bases. After Adam Jones delivered a game-tying single, Gardenhire took out Casey Fien and brought in Tyler Robertson to face Davis. It backfired in a big way.
Davis went 2-for-5 with five RBI on the afternoon and is now hitting .600 (9-for-15) with four home runs and 16 RBI over the first four games this season. His OPS is sitting at 2.211. He’s just the fourth player ever to homer in the first four games of a season, joining Willie Mays (1971), Mark McGwire (1998) and Nelson Cruz (2011).
Davis actually has 11 home runs over his last 11 regular season games dating back to last season. He was homerless in six games during the team’s postseason run.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.