Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to start Juan Francisco at third base in last night’s interleague matchup against the Pirates while moving Brett Lawrie over to second base. It’s not an ideal alignment from a defensive perspective, but he’s trying to keep Francisco’s bat in the lineup with the designated hitter unavailable.
While Gibbons’ reasoning is understandable, Lawrie didn’t sound thrilled about the temporary position switch when talking with John Lott of the National Post:
“I’m a third baseman,” he said. “I’m not a third base/second base type of guy. I’m a third baseman and that’s my position.
“I’m not necessarily going over thinking I’m going to be Chase Utley tonight. I’m going to try to make the routine play and try to roll a double play if we can. It’s for the team and if we can get an extra bat in there and it gives us a chance to win, then that’s what it has to be.”
Of course, Lawrie originally began his pro career as a second baseman in the Brewers minor league system before making the move over to the hot corner. He played six games at second base last season after the Blue Jays were hit hard with injuries.
The Pirates will send left-hander Francisco Liriano to the hill later today, so Francisco should sit while Lawrie will be back at third base. However, we’ll likely see Lawrie at second base again on Sunday with right-hander Edinson Volquez slated to pitch in the series finale.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.