Before this season Nationals center fielder Denard Span played his entire five-year career in the American League with the Twins, so he wasn’t quite up to speed on National League rules.
In fact, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes that Span was confused about being removed from yesterday’s game as part of a standard double-switch and initially thought he was being benched by manager Davey Johnson:
“I’m like, ‘Did I not hustle? What did I do?’ ” Span said afterward. “I didn’t know what was going on. I’ve never been pulled out of the game like that. I’m still learning. Honestly, I’m starting to kind of understand it, but I still don’t fully understand it. I understand what’s going on, obviously. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Even after a gentle explanation, Span still wasn’t quite sure of the whole double-switch thing. … “If I ever become a manager,” Span said, “it’s going to be in the American League.”
Not quite as bad as Donovan McNabb not knowing the rules to NFL overtimes a few years ago, but still kind of weird. The good news for Span is that by the time he becomes a manager there’s a decent chance both leagues will be using the designated hitter anyway.
Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.
Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.
It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.
“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”
Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.
This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.
With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.