Add another item to baseball’s unwritten rulebook: don’t tag too hard. With two outs in the bottom of the third inning, Orioles third baseman Manny Machado was on his way to third base after Adam Jones hit a ground ball. Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson fielded the ball and ran towards Machado before tagging him for the final out of the inning.
Machado stumbled back and fired his helmet to the ground in Donaldson’s direction, which of course got Donaldson’s attention. Apparently, Machado felt that he was tagged too harshly. The two jawed at each other and the benches emptied. There were no punches thrown and no ejections. You can watch the events as they unfolded here.
Machado got his revenge, hitting a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth. In the top of the sixth, O’s starter Wei-Yin Chen brushed Donaldson back with a fastball, then came right back inside and hit him with another fastball. Chen was not ejected, and Donaldson didn’t do much in return other than flipping his arm guard. Stay tuned for more drama from Camden Yards.
Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday.
After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.
With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.