Buck Showalter thought his comments about the Yankees were off-the-record

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We heard earlier today that Orioles manager Buck Showalter made some interesting comments to USA Today about the repercussions of a possible suspension of Alex Rodriguez, specifically that the Yankees would be able to get under the $189 million luxury tax threshold next season and potentially spend freely in free agency once again. He used his own catcher, Matt Wieters, as an example of someone who the Yankees could have their eye on.  However, if Showalter had it his way, the comments would have never seen the light of day.

According to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, Showalter said this afternoon that he thought his comments were off-the-record.

“I said it and someone decided to print it,” Showalter said. “It’s unfortunate, but what are you going to do? … It all boils out from the idea that we’d like Matt to be with us. We like him.”

Sure enough, Wieters was asked about the USA Today article prior to tonight’s game, so Showalter probably wasn’t upset about his general theory getting out as much as he was regretful about name-dropping one of his own players and causing a momentary distraction in the clubhouse. But the sentiment is certainly understandable. A suspension of Rodriguez — who is set to make $25 million next season — would be a gift to the Yankees.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.