Here are the lineups for tonight’s American League Wild Card Game between the Rays and Indians, in Cleveland:
LF David DeJesus
RF Wil Myers
1B James Loney
3B Evan Longoria
2B Ben Zobrist
CF Desmond Jennings
DH Delmon Young
SS Yunel Escobar
C Jose Molina
SP Alex Cobb
Wil Myers only batted second 11 times all season, but did so in five of the last seven games. Desmond Jennings slides down in the lineup, with midseason pickup David DeJesus leading off. And manager Joe Maddon is going with Delmon Young at designated hitter versus Indians right-hander Danny Salazar, which is odd. For his career Young has a measly .709 OPS off righties, compared to .812 off lefties. Salazar showing a reserve platoon split as a rookie no doubt played a big part in Young getting the DH nod over Matt Joyce, Kelly Johnson, or Luke Scott (who isn’t even on the roster).
CF Michael Bourn
1B Nick Swisher
2B Jason Kipnis
DH Carlos Santana
LF Michael Brantley
RF Ryan Raburn
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
C Yan Gomes
3B Lonnie Chisenhall
SP Danny Salazar
Michael Bourn is back in the Indians’ lineup after leaving the regular season final with a calf injury. Terry Francona went with Yan Gomes at catcher and Carlos Santana at designated hitter most of the time down the stretch and he’s sticking with that tonight, which means no Jason Giambi. Lonnie Chisenhall gets the nod at third base over Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn starts over Drew Stubbs in the outfield. In all the Indians have seven left-handed hitters in the lineup versus Rays right-hander Alex Cobb.
Former Mets catcher Johnny Monell signed a contract with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a report by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The 30-year-old originally struck a deal with the NC Dinos on Thursday, but the deal appeared to fall through at the last minute, according to Cotillo’s unnamed source.
Monell last surfaced for the Mets during their 2015 run, batting a dismal .167/.231/.208 with two extra bases in 52 PA before the club DFA’d him to clear space for Bartolo Colon. While he’s had difficulty sticking at the major league level, he’s found a higher degree of success in the minor league circuit and holds a career .271 average over a decade of minor league play. He played exclusively in Triple-A Las Vegas during the 2016 season, slashing .276/.336/.470 with 19 home runs and a career-high 75 RBI in 461 PA.
The veteran backstop appears to be the second MLB player to join the KT Wiz roster this offseason, as right-hander Donn Roach also signed with the club last month on a one-year, $850,000 deal.
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.