Clutching to a 4-3 lead in the top of the eighth inning on Friday night against the Phillies, Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson brought in lefty Oliver Perez as the Phillies were leading off with two lefties of their own in Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Perez retired Utley on a weak fly ball to shallow left-center. Before Howard could settle into the batter’s box, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg strode towards home plate umpire Mark Wegner to start a conversation. As Steve Berthiaume noted on the D-Backs’ TV broadcast, the conversation was about the slits in Perez’s undershirt, which may have been a distraction.
The umpires then grouped up and conferred. Wegner approached Perez on the mound and informed him that he would have to change or remove the undershirt before he could continue pitching. Annoyed, Perez stomped off of the field and yanked his button-up uniform over his head before heading into the dugout to meet the dress code.
Perez came back out and threw a warm-up pitch with the fire of a thousand angry gods, it appeared, before resuming play against Howard. If Sandberg’s concern was a tactical ploy, it worked, because Howard singled off of Perez, prompting Gibson to bring in the right-handed Brad Ziegler to face Marlon Byrd. Byrd singled to put runners on first and second, but Ziegler induced both Domonic Brown and Carlos Ruiz into grounding out to end the threat. The D-Backs would go on to win 5-4.
The whole incident involving Perez was fascinating. You can watch it below:
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.
Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:
We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.
Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.