Victor Martinez isn’t exactly known for his defense at first base, but the Tigers’ DH was happy to show it off in the sixth inning of today’s game against the Red Sox. With one out and the bases empty, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury pulled a grounder that was destined for the corner in right field. Martinez dove to his left, knocking the ball down. As the ball slowly rolled away and Ellsbury thundered towards the first base bag, Martinez made the only possible play: he checked for pitcher Drew Smyly covering the bag, then reached for the ball and flipped it behind his back for the out.
For a full-time DH and former catcher who has logged all of 79 defensive innings at first base over the last two seasons, this is a very impressive play.
Corey Dickerson of the Tampa Bay Rays wasn’t a super huge guy or anything, but he’s going to be smaller this year: he told reporters today that he’s lost 25 pounds. He attributes it to a new diet and a workout regimen and says it’ll help him with his running, swing and throwing.
Dickerson had a down year in 2016, so if losing 25 pounds is something he thinks will work for him he’s got nothing to lose. Of course the best way for him to improve his numbers is to convince the Rays to trade him back to Colorado, but that’s not likely.
As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.
We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.
James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:
Spring training is less than a month away, folks!