A great Q&A with Tyler Kepner of the New York Times

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While newspapers aren’t what they once were and while newspaper scribes are often thought of as a bitter lot because of that, there are several notable exceptions. Perhaps the biggest exception is Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. He approaches his job with a freshness that is, well, refreshing, his writing and reporting are top notch and, based on my own personal experience, he is one hell of a nice guy.

Today Jeff Pearlman has a Q&A with Kepner, and you can totally see why Kepner is the way he is.  My favorite exchange: after Pearlman admits that he came to hate baseball toward the end of his time covering it, he asks Kepner how, after all of these years, he continues to keep his interest.  Shocking answer: he loves baseball:

… it’s all out there to discover, and I’ve just always been interested in everything about the game. Like, every single aspect, on and off the field, from the mechanics and the strategy to the esoteric stuff like the uniforms and the stadiums. All of it. Never gets boring. I’ll get in my car after covering a game, and I can’t wait to put another game on the radio.

There are people who got into the baseball reporting business because that’s where their journalism background happened to lead them. Then there are people who got into the baseball reporting business because they loved baseball.  You can see which guys are which from a million miles away.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.

Phillies release veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday

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The Phillies announced on Monday that the club released veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday. Both were competing for the back-up catcher spot on the team’s 25-man roster. With both out of the picture, that means Andrew Knapp has won that honor.

Knapp, 25, hit a combined .266/.330/.390 with eight home runs and 46 RBI in 443 plate appearances last year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He did not have a great spring but has hit well as of late, which likely pushed him ahead of Hanigan and Holaday. Knapp will serve as the understudy to starting catcher Cameron Rupp.