Munson. Martin. Mariano. Mattingly. Mandela.
During a triumphant visit by Nelson Mandela to New York in June 1990, shortly after he had been released from a South African prison, one of his most memorable stops was a rally and concert at Yankee Stadium, where he put on a team cap and jacket and proclaimed, “I am a Yankee.”
To commemorate that moment and the life of Mandela, the South African leader who died last week at 95, the Yankees will place a plaque in Monument Park. It will be unveiled on Jackie Robinson Day, April 15, when the Yankees play the Chicago Cubs.
As David Waldstein’s story in the New York Times notes, Mandela will not be the first non-baseball figure to be honored in Monument Park. There are already plaques for masses celebrated in Yankee Stadium by Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. There is also a monument in honor of victims of the September 11th attacks. Now Mandela, who was probably a bigger Yankees fan than Benedict is. Just guessing.
At any rate, the weirdest thing about that entire story is the part where it says the Cubs will be in Yankee Stadium. That just seems odd.
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.