Four years ago we linked a story about a girl who played little league baseball. That’s not a big deal. Lots of girls play little league baseball. What set her apart was that she was a knuckleballer who had been trained to throw the pitch by knuckleball legend Joe Niekro.
Flash forward to 2014 and Chelsea Baker is still at it. Of course she’s not a little leaguer anymore — she plays for the Durant High School baseball team in Plant City, Florida. And she’s legit: she went 3-0 with one save and a 0.74 ERA for the varsity team this year.
Yesterday she pitched BP to the Tampa Bay Rays. And while given that she’s a high schooler and it’s batting practice, of course the Rays made some solid contact. But on a few occasions she fooled the Rays hitters and made them look awkward up there like any good knuckleballer would. She also nailed Evan Longoria in the back once. I’m assuming it just got away from her and wasn’t about some past incident, but you never know with ballplayers. They all get hung up on perceived slights on occasion.
Here’s the story and here’s video from the Tampa Bay Times:
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.