Mike Trout started the 2013 season hitting second in the Angels’ lineup, but moved to the #3 spot when Albert Pujols went on the disabled list in late July. He produced similarly in both spots, posting a 1.015 in 405 plate appearances in the two-hole, and a .963 OPS in 223 PA batting third.
With Pujols reportedly feeling fine, Trout is likely to move back to second in the order, reports Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.
Some, citing Trout’s otherworldly .432 on-base percentage, have suggested the AL’s back-to-back runner-up MVP should lead off, but manager Mike Scioscia isn’t a fan of the idea.
“I don’t think we’re going to rule out anything with Mike, but if he’s hitting first, there’s no doubt you need a hitter behind him who’s going to give him the protection he needs, to where it’s not as routine (to walk him) as you saw last year,” Scioscia said.
Scioscia said Kole Calhoun could be one candidate to take over the lead-off spot. The Angels toyed with their lineup a lot over the course of the 2013 season, leading off with J.B. Shuck 64 times, Erick Aybar 46 times, the now-departed Peter Bourjos 20 times; as well as Trout 18, Calhoun six, Collin Cowgill five, and Alberto Callaspo three times.
On Sunday, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was ejected for throwing at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado‘s head. It was revenge for a slide of Machado’s which ended up injuring Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Barnes was suspended four games.
Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said that if he were in Barnes’ shoes, he would have also thrown at Machado, although not necessarily at his head. Via ESPN’s Scott Lauber:
If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him. The only thing I would’ve done differently is probably bring the ball a little bit lower.
Martinez added that Machado “did not intend to hurt Pedroia. And I know that because I know Machado.” And he doesn’t think Barnes meant to throw at Machado’s head.
Martinez, of course, was certainly a pitcher who wasn’t afraid to pitch inside to batters and even hit a few of them when he felt he or his teammates had been wronged. This is an unfortunate part of baseball’s culture and the fact that it continues means that it will eventually result in someone being seriously hurt. It’s disappointing that Martinez isn’t willing to be a better role model now that his playing days are over. Martinez could have set an example for today’s pitchers by saying what Barnes did crossed a line. Getting a Hall of Famer’s seal of approval will only embolden players now when they feel they must defend their teammates’ honor.
The “tradition” of beaning batters to defend one’s teammates is anachronistic in today’s game, especially when Major League Baseball has made strides in so many other ways recently to protect players’ safety.
Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continued to struggle on Thursday, allowing a run in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. It’s the sixth time in nine appearances that the right-handed veteran has allowed a run, bumping his ERA up to 6.23. He’s blown two saves and has two losses on the year.
Despite that, it doesn’t sound like Rodriguez’s job as the Tigers’ closer is in any jeopardy, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. When asked how much of a leash Rodriguez has, manager Brad Ausmus said, “I’ll let you know.” Ausmus continued, “I think people have short memories. This guy did a pretty good job for us last year. Early on, people were worried because the velocity was down. Well, the velocity is back.”
“But at some point,” Ausmus said, “he does have to pitch the way he pitched last year, because he did an outstanding job for us last year and in a city that has been looking for a closer that was consistent for a long time, he was that.”
Rodriguez, 35, doesn’t have the stuff he once did. And the Tigers do appear to have someone who would be a better option in high-leverage situations. Lefty Justin Wilson has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings so far this season with 15 strikeouts and three walks. But for now, it sounds like Rodriguez will be free to work through his issues.