Marlins right-hander Alex Sanabia was seen spitting on the baseball during his start Monday night against the Phillies, a clear violation of MLB rules. However, it went unnoticed by umpires and it appears that he will not receive any sort of punishment.
As for Sanabia’s defense, well, he’s pleading ignorance on the whole thing. The Associated Press has the story:
Sanabia said Friday he spit on a baseball earlier in the week to get a better grip, not to get more movement on his pitches. He also repeated he didn’t know it was illegal.
“I didn’t know. I was in my zone and just grooving. It’s something you live and learn from. I didn’t mean anything bad by it or I didn’t mean to do anything more,” Sanabia said. “It’s something that showed up that way and people all of a sudden just create their own perception of.”
While one could argue that Sanabia didn’t gain a significant advantage by spitting on the baseball as opposed to using something like pine tar that could actually have a major impact on movement, that’s one weak excuse. For what it’s worth, Sanabia denied spitting on the baseball in previous outings, saying that he usually just licks his fingers to get a better grip. However, he spit directly on the baseball in this instance because the ball was “super slick.”
Sanabia is slated to make his next start tomorrow against the White Sox. He figures to be on his best behavior.
Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?
Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.
It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.
Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.
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.