Mike Napoli put the Indians on the board in an unorthodox fashion on Friday night. With one out and runners on second and third, Napoli skied a Michael Fulmer heater to left field, where it ricocheted off the grass behind Justin Upton and cleared Cleveland’s 19-foot “Little Green Monster.”
If the Tigers and Indians had played this game prior to 1930, Napoli’s double would have been credited as a home run. In 1931, a year after the American League adopted more severe restrictions on batted balls, the Chicago Tribune’s Irving Vaughan documented the rule changes that limited one-hop doubles to two bases:
Last year the American league limited to two bases any fairly batted ball which bounded over a fence or into a bleacher or grandstand. It was adopted because of the three foot concrete wall at the end of the short left field line in the Yankee stadium.
(Thanks for taking the fun out of “trick home runs,” Yankees.)
Thankfully for the Tigers, this game was played in 2016, and Justin Upton recovered quickly from the gaffe by clearing the fences himself in the second inning with a solo shot off of Corey Kluber.
Adrian Beltre has been on the disabled list all year because of nagging right calf strain, but he’s about to take a big step toward getting back to action.
Beltre has been cleared to begin playing in extended spring training games. He’ll commence them tomorrow at the Rangers facility in Surprise, Arizona. After three games the team’s doctors will reevaluate him. If things go well, he’ll likely be sent off for a full minor league rehab assignment.
Joey Gallo has filled in for Beltre all season, bringing a lot of power but not much else to the table. While Beltre is 38, his all-around game would be welcomed back on the field and his leadership would be welcomed back in the Rangers clubhouse. On a personal note, Beltre is only 58 hits shy of 3,000 for his career.
Barring a setback, he’ll be back with the big club in early June and will hit the milestone eventually.
Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.
Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.
As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.
Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.