J.J. Hardy hit his first home run of the 2014 season

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It took him 65 games, but Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy is finally on the board. Hardy belted his first home run of the season, taking a 95 MPH Jose Ramirez fastball out to left field at Yankee Stadium.

Between 2007-13, the only shortstops who out-homered Hardy (144) were Troy Tulowitzki (154) and Hanley Ramirez (161). That’s why it was such a surprise to see Hardy on such a lengthy homerless drought. His last home run, prior to Saturday afternoon, occurred on September 5, 2013 against the White Sox.

Hardy, 31, will be free agent after the season following the conclusion of a three-year, $22.25 million contract with the Orioles. He is slashing .291/.319/.368 with the one homer and 16 RBI on the season.

A fan stole a foul ball from another fan in Chicago last night

CSN Chicago
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For as long as foul balls have been flying into the stands, people have been fighting for foul balls. Usually it’s a pretty tame affair, with multiple people reaching for it but one person asserting their claim rather quickly. While there are serious scrums over historic home run balls, foul balls simply don’t lend themselves to acrimony.

Which explains the look of utter disbelief on the face of the young man in the Frank Thomas shirt in the video below. He scrambled after a foul ball and picked it up only to have the woman in the video take it from him. Or, really, just sort of demand it and take it from him before he could fully process what was going on. Watch:

 

We can’t see behind the seat so maybe she had her hand on it and he snatched it away from her first, but the body language doesn’t really track that. When she takes it, I get the sense that the dude was sort of reverting to deference to elders out of muscle memory or something and then realized, “hey, she just friggin’ took it.”

As you can see at the end of the video, a White Sox official came out and gave him another ball, so I guess it all turned out OK. Still: it’s just a ball folks.

Melvin Upton released by the Giants

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Jon Heyman reports that the Giants have released outfielder Melvin Upton. He requested his release.

Upton, who turned 33 yesterday, signed with San Francisco in early April after the Blue Jays released him. It was a minor league deal. After recovering from a rash of minor injuries, Upton batted .244/.306/.333 in 12 games at Triple-A Sacramento. There was no indication that the Giants were going to call him up. I presume that, back when they signed him, they figured they’d be contending and could maybe use a veteran bat. That’s obviously not the case anymore.

I suppose it’s possible that someone gives Upton a look when rosters expand in eight days, but I figure it’s more likely that we’ll next see him as he fights to make a team on a minor league deal next spring.