Chapter eight gabillion in the unwritten rules wars unfolded last night during and after the Angels-Astros game. The subject: bat flips.
The Angels beat the tar out of Astros starter Mike Fiers, lighting him up for eight runs on ten hits in three and two-thirds innings. One of the big blows against him: a two-run homer from Luis Valbuena which put the Angels up 5-0 in the first inning. In response Valbuena — who played with Fiers in Houston last year — flipped his bat, as seen in the photo above.
Fiers obviously didn’t care much for that and, in the fourth inning, threw a pitch that went a few feet over Valbuena’s head and sailed to the backstop. Home plate umpire Cory Blaser immediately warned both benches. It was clearly intentional, of course. For his part, Valbuena wasn’t rattled, as he dug back in and hit a double. He’d eventually come around to score.
After the game, Fiers took issue with the flip, saying “I took it as disrespect.” Valbeuna’s response: “I enjoyed my home run. If they want to hit me, that’s OK. But if I hit another home run, you’ll see what happens.”
Fiers, by the way, has given up 57 homers in his last 57 starts over the past two season. He should be pretty used to this by now. Giving up dongs is such a part of his being that he should be like an Inuit who has 30 words for “snow” except he has 30 words for “bat flip.”
Anyway, here’s an idea, Fiers: if you don’t like guys flipping their bats after home runs, don’t give up home runs.
The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.
Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.
With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.
Brewers’ minor league infielder Julio Mendez remains in “critical but stable condition,” club GM David Stearns announced Friday. Back in August, Mendez suffered a cardiac event after he was inadvertently struck by a ball from the Angels’ Austin Krzeminksi during a game between the rookie-level affiliates. The 20-year-old was removed to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment following the incident and has recently been transferred to a hospital in his native Venezuela.
Mendez was in his fourth season with the Brewers’ organization. He spent the majority of his 2017 run with the rookie-level AZL Brewers, slashing .255/.294/.355 with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBI and four stolen bases over 119 plate appearances. He currently holds a career .241/.324/.309 batting line, 33 extra bases and a .633 OPS through 668 PA.
Baseball is still on the back burner, however, as Mendez appears to have made little progress nearly a month following the hit by pitch. Thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.