The Rockies walked off in the tenth inning on Justin Morneau’s two-run home run, but that wasn’t the most interesting part of Sunday’s series finale against the Padres. In the top of the third inning, pitcher Juan Nicasio was in a bit of a pickle with runners on first and second with no outs, already down 1-0.
Carlos Quentin hit a weak grounder to third baseman Nolan Arenado, who stepped on third base and quickly made a jump-throw to second baseman D.J. LeMahieu for out number two. LeMahieu took the ball out in front of the second base bag and avoided a sprawling Seth Smith to fire the ball to first baseman Justin Morneau, but he was a bit too late to get Quentin. Second base umpire Seth Buckminster, however, ruled Quentin out as a result of Smith’s interference, giving the Rockies a triple play. It appeared that Smith made contact with LeMahieu’s foot with his hand, though he did not grab the Rockies’ infielder.
Interference is not reviewable by instant replay, so the umpire’s ruling was final. Watch the play as it unfolded:
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.
File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.
It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.
Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.
The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.
So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.