We tend to praise those veterans who take youngsters under their wings. Especially when that youngster is gunning for the veteran’s own job.
Padres catcher Nick Hundley isn’t going that route, though. Maybe he would have under different circumstances. Say if the youngster replacing him wasn’t a big, ol’ cheater.
Asked Wednesday about the Padres’ catcher situation when Yasmani Grandal returns from his 50-game steroids suspension, Hundley told the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee:
“You want to talk about a guy who is unproven and had a good couple months on steroids, go ahead. I’ve got a job to do.”
Hundley has good reason to be frustrated. He was coming off a terrific .288/.347/.477 season in 2011 when the Padres picked up Grandal, a 2010 first-round pick, from the Reds in the Mat Latos deal that winter. Hundley went on to struggle mightily last year and lost his job to Grandal, only to see Grandal get the offseason steroid suspension. Grandal’s name subsequently was found in the Biogenesis documents.
If not for the suspension, the Padres would have tried to trade Hundley last winter, though it may have been tough considering his substantial contract and hideous .157/.219/.245 line in 204 at-bats last season. As is, he’s been the Padres’ regular catcher this year and hit a rock-solid .270/.302/.450 in 100 at-bats. Still just 29, he doesn’t deserved to be shoved back into a backup role, especially in favor of a cheater. That said, the Padres aren’t going anywhere this year and they still need to figure out whether Grandal is the real deal or not. It figures to lead to an awkward situation when Grandal comes back later this month.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.