The scene: The Braves were down 5-1 in the ninth inning, but were staging a rally against Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon. Justin Upton hit a three-run home run to bring the score to 5-4, and the Braves kept fighting. Freddie Freeman singled and Evan Gattis walked to put the winning run in scoring position for Chris Johnson. Johnson hit a 1-2 grounder in the hole, but shortstop Jimmy Rollins dove for it and snagged it with just enough room to spare. He got to his feet quickly and fired across to first base to narrowly get the force at first base. Johnson slid head-first into the bag in an attempt to keep the inning going, but he was a few inches behind. The Phillies won 5-4, pushing the Braves one game behind the Cardinals for the best record in the National League.
As Johnson returned to the dugout, he received some consolation pats from his teammates. Out of nowhere, first base coach Terry Pendleton came up to Johnson and grabbed him and shoved him. Johnson didn’t react with any surprise, so it appears as if he did something wrong — perhaps not running hard out of the box, or choosing to risk injury by diving head-first.
Here’s a .gif of the incident:
If and when we hear why this happened, we will update this post with more information.
Update (11:20 PM):
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.
The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.
Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.
As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.