Early this morning Israel defeated the Netherlands in World Baseball Classic play 4-2. That puts Israel at a perfect 3-0 heading into the second round of the WBC, where they will now face either Japan or the winner of the Cuba versus Australia game in the second round.
While the game itself was the key attraction for WBC devotees, one particular at bat in the game was the highlight for gawkers like us. The matchup: pitcher the Dutch team’s Loek Van Mil, who has spent a decade bouncing around the minor leagues, primarily in the Twins organization, vs. Team Israel’s Nate Freiman, the former Oakland Athletic and minor league veteran. Van Mil is 7’1″ and Freiman is 6’8″. They faced off in the eighth inning of this game.
It looked like this:
While the walk to Freiman was somewhat anti-climatic, this is thought to be the tallest batter-pitcher matchup in baseball history.
Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.
The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.
When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.
Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.
Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.