Hank the Dog, the stray who wandered into Maryvale Baseball Park and became an unofficial Brewers mascot this spring, has a permanent home. In Milwaukee of all places:
The stray pup who has won legions of fans since showing up at Maryvale Baseball Park along with Brewers pitchers and catchers will move north to Milwaukee on Sunday. He will travel on a Southwest Airlines Charter flight with Brewers sponsors and family members and executives, one of whom is adopting Hank and taking him home.
The “of all places” is a little sarcastic, as this is clearly no coincidence. Nor is it, I suspect, a random adoption. My guess is that his role of unofficial mascot is going to soon become rather official, either on behalf of the Brewers or — more likely — on behalf of a Brewers sponsor. I mean really, you telling me that if Acme Widgets — the Official Widget Provider of the Milwaukee Brewers — had Hank at their Widget store at the corner of Appleton Ave. and Pilgrim Road in beautiful Menomonee Falls, that a horde of people wouldn’t come to see him? And maybe buy a widget?
I’m not trying to sound cynical here. I don’t really care where he goes as long as he’s loved and has a home. Heck, maybe a charitable organization has adopted him and he’ll be a goodwill ambassador. That would be cool. And even if he is at the widget place, at least Brewers fans will get to see him. So that’s nice.
But yes, I do predict something promotional or quasi-promotional in the offing for good old Hank.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.