The Dodgers took the shift to the extreme in the 12th inning last night against the Padres, using four players (including outfielder Andre Ethier) on the right side of the infield in a bases-loaded situation with Seth Smith at the plate. It almost looked like the way defenders line up for a free kick in soccer. And wouldn’t you know it, it worked. Smith hit a grounder to Dee Gordon, who was able to get the force out at home plate. In fact, they almost turned a double play.
Check it out below:
While the shift was successful against Smith, Yasmani Grandal followed with a walk-off RBI single to give the Padres a 3-2 win. Ah well. Here’s Tim Wallach’s explanation on the Dodgers’ strategy for the unique shift:
Can’t argue with that.
The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.
Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.
Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.
Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.
Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.