You have to figure Scott Eden of ESPN was a bit cheesed off that L.A. Magazine beat him to the punch on a competing in-depth article about Yasiel Puig’s journey to the United States. But even if he wasn’t first, Eden’s is still excellently-reported and well-researched.
Many of the same beats: getting out of Cuba is really hard, and it creates some perverse incentives and awful choices for people. Puig almost certainly ratted out other would-be defectors, either because he felt he had to or felt it would draw attention away from himself. There are lawsuits about that now, though it’s an open question whether U.S. courts are the best place for such things.
More broadly, the entire process inevitably causes someone in Puig’s shoes to be wary of anyone he doesn’t know, even to this day. And no matter what led up to his defection, his flight itself was harrowing and its repercussions continue to this day. He was shaken down by people who did not have his best interests in mind before, during and after he defected, and even if he’s far better off now for having endured it all, it’s no less troubling what he had to go through.
I still have the same takeaways I had after the L.A. Mag piece earlier this week. I’ve said most of them enough already so I won’t annoy you with them once again. But Ben Badler of Baseball America — retweeting something he first said last summer — still makes a fantastic point:
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.
Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.
Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.
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.