The Home Run Derby created some unexpected drama when Mets third baseman David Wright picked childhood friend Michael Cuddyer over Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez. This caught the ire of Pirates fans, who felt that Alvarez was much more deserving of a selection. On Thursday, Cuddyer’s teammate and fellow Derby participant Carlos Gonzalez bowed out due to a sprained right middle finger. Alvarez took his spot, at long last.
On Friday, the Mets opened up a three-game series in Pittsburgh against the Pirates to wrap up the first half. Though Alvarez was in the Derby, Pirates fans jeered Wright with varying degrees of enthusiasm throughout the weekend. This upset Mets manager Terry Collins, who insists Pirates fans “better reevaluate what’s going on”.
Via Rob Biertempfel:
“When you start booing David Wright, you better re-evaluate what’s going on,” Collins said after the Mets’ 4-2 win. “Because there’s nobody who plays the game any harder or who epitomizes what you want a major league player to be than David Wright, for heaven’s sakes.”
Collins is making a mountain out of a molehill here, as Wright never really had a full cascade of heckling the way Robinson Cano did last year from Kansas City fans. Cano had passed over Butler last year as the captain of the AL Derby squad. As the host of the All-Star Game festivities were held at Kaufmann Stadium, Butler’s home ballpark, Cano was lustily booed before he took his cuts in last year’s Derby, in which he went homerless. Wright has heard much, much worse from fans in Philadelphia and in the Bronx.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.
According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.
Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.
While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.
Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.
More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.
Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.