Jason Lane spent seven seasons as a hitter. Not a terrible one, either. He posted an .815 OPS, hit 26 homers, and had 78 RBI in 145 games for a pennant winner in 2005. But after that he crashed hard and was done as a big league bat.
He reinvented himself as a pitcher in the Padres organization and was called up in June. Today he got his first start at age 37. And it wasn’t half bad: six innings pitched, six hits, one earned run, two strikeouts and a couple of walks. He also went 1 for 2 at the plate. He didn’t get the win, however, as (a) he was backed by the San Diego Padres’ offense; and (b) Ervin Santana tossed eight shutout innings while striking out 11.
But regardless of what happened with the decision, give it the heck up for Jason Lane. A guy who had every reason to pack it in six or seven years ago but didn’t. A guy who started from scratch and then scratched his way back to the bigs. That’s some serious moxie. And quite a story.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.
Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.