Heading into the eighth inning of last night’s White Sox-Angels game Jeff Keppinger had yet to draw a walk in 140 plate appearances this season.
Angels reliever Michael Kohn was struggling to throw strikes, walking Conor Gillaspie and Dayan Viciedo back-to-back to load the bases with two outs for Keppinger, who came into the game with a lower on-base percentage (.182) than batting average (.185).
Four pitches later Keppinger was standing on first base with his first walk of the season, which forced in the go-ahead run (which proved to the game-winning run). So, to recap: Keppinger went (nearly) 33 games and 140 plate appearances without a walk, all while hitting .185, and then walked on four pitches with the bases loaded in the eighth inning of a tie game.
And yet people try to predict baseball.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.