Angels manager Mike Scioscia gave Ernesto Frieri a vote of confidence over the weekend, but he made it clear today that he’s looking at other options to close games.
After Albert Pujols delivered a two-run double in the top of the 10th inning against the Indians this afternoon, most expected that Frieri would come out for the bottom half of the inning, especially since Joe Smith already pitched the ninth inning. However, Scioscia threw everyone for a loop by turning to rookie Cam Bedrosian. The decision quickly backfired, as Bedrosian walked two and gave up a double before Frieri was brought in to put out the fire. Frieri got David Murphy to fly out for the second out of the inning, but he then gave up a walk-off grand slam to Nick Swisher. Disaster complete.
After the game, Scioscia told Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com that he has no set closer and wanted to give Bedrosian an opportunity against a team who had never seen him before.
“I don’t think it’s any different from what we talked about,” Scioscia said when asked if Frieri is his closer. “What’s different from matching up like we talked about?”
It was a questionable decision for many reasons, most notably that Bedrosian has been far from lights out since coming up to the majors. And if Scioscia didn’t have faith in Frieri to start the inning, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher why he turned to him once Bedrosian got into trouble. Talk about your mixed messages. There’s no excuse for Frieri giving up the grand slam, as he still has to execute, but the margin for error was razor thin and Scioscia essentially set him up to fail. The Angels own the fifth-best record in the American League right now, but the back-end of their bullpen is a mess.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
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.