It took all of one game for umpire Joe West to again make headlines for a call that was either “controversial” or just plain “wrong” depending on how charitable you’re feeling.
West wrung up Twins outfielder Torii Hunter on a game-ending strike three call against the Tigers even though replays showed that Hunter appeared to check his swing on the Joe Nathan pitch out of the strike zone. (Click here to view the play and judge for yourself.)
Hunter predictably got very upset, yelling at West after the game was over, and then he said the following to reporters in the clubhouse:
He gave me no explanation. I think he had a dinner reservation or a concert to play in. That was terrible.
It was a bad call in a very important spot, but even as a Twins fan who generally dislikes Joe West’s behavior I’ll say that check swings are hardly cut-and-dried calls and … well, we have a long season of even worse calls–many of them probably by Joe West–ahead of us. Gotta pace ourselves.
For the second straight season Mike Trout homered off Felix Hernandez in the first inning on Opening Day:
Before that homer Trout was a career .367 hitter with a 1.022 OPS in 54 plate appearances against King Felix.
Carlos Quentin was acquired by the Braves in Sunday’s trade with the Padres for Craig Kimbrel, but he’s never going to actually play for Atlanta.
Quentin has been designated for assignment and dropped from the 40-man roster, meaning the Braves will likely be looking to trade him and whatever chunk of his $8 million salary they can get another team to take on.
Quentin was basically just included in the trade to balance the salaries and because the Padres had too many outfielders. If healthy he’s capable of being a middle-of-the-order bat, but “if healthy” is always just a theory with Quentin and his poor outfield defense makes him a better fit in the AL.
Pitching prospect Burch Smith, whom the Rays acquired from the Padres in this winter’s 11-player deal also involving the Nationals, has been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow and will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Smith missed most of last year with a forearm strain, so while the Rays are no doubt disappointed by this news they acquired him at a discount rate in part because of the injury history.
He’ll miss all of 2015 and try to return in early 2016, but it may be as a reliever given pre-surgery questions about whether he was better suited for bullpen work anyway.
Right-hander Ryan Webb is under contract for $2.75 million this season as part of a two-year, $4.5 million deal signed last winter, but the Orioles have dropped the 29-year-old reliever from the 40-man roster by designating him for assignment.
Webb pitched decently in a middle relief role last season, throwing 49 innings with a 3.83 ERA and 37/12 K/BB ratio, and he’s got a 3.38 career ERA in 325 total innings.
His salary isn’t outrageous for a useful veteran reliever, but at this point in the year it’s tough to imagine any teams claiming him off waivers to take on that money. He could stay with the Orioles at Triple-A.