Reds manager Dusty Baker declined to start Billy Hamilton again Monday after his three-hit day Sunday, instead reserving him for pinch-running duties. When he did go to him in the eighth, it produced a memorable sequence.
Hamilton pinch-ran for Ryan Hanigan with two outs and none on in a tie game in the bottom of the eighth versus the Mets. Being that there were two outs, Hamilton wasted absolutely no time in trying to take second. He didn’t fool the Mets, either. Or not some of them, anyway. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud called for the pitchout on the first pitch with Frank Francisco on the mound. Francisco, apparently having his signals crossed, threw a fastball right down main street as Hamilton was taking off. D’Arnaud couldn’t snare it and Chris Heisey let the pitch go, so it ended up hitting umpire Tony Randazzo right in the chest.
That was fortunate, because Hamilton probably would have ended up on third had the ball missed the ump or deflected off to the side. As is, he was left stranded on second after Heisey struck out. Fortunately for the Mets, that marked the end of his night in the tie game.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.