Author: Aaron Gleeman

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Pirates go with three catchers on Wild Card game roster

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Russell Martin’s uncertain health status due to a hamstring injury has convinced the Pirates to carry three catchers on their roster for tonight’s Wild Card game against the Giants.

In addition to Martin, who started two-thirds of their games during the regular season, the Pirates will also include Chris Stewart and Tony Sanchez on the 25-man roster.

Pittsburgh has left starting pitchers Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole off the Wild Card game roster, but that’s fairly typical because neither would be available to pitch on short rest and teams are allowed to submit a new roster if they advance to the division series. Edinson Volquez will get the start versus San Francisco.

Newspaper columnist ignores Joe Mauer’s brain injury, calls him a wimp, says he should catch again

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I want to make you aware of one of the worst “hot takes” I’ve ever seen, but first some background information just so we’re all on the same page.

Joe Mauer spent a decade as a catcher, winning three batting titles and one MVP while making six All-Star teams and snagging three Gold Gloves. Then in August of last season he suffered a concussion from a foul tip to the mask, the symptoms for which remained months later and forced him to move from catcher to first base at age 31.

And now, following an underwhelming first season at first base for Mauer, newspaper columnist Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote something that has me shaking my head after nearly every sentence. Let’s go through it:

What will the Twins’ next manager do about Joe Mauer? Here’s a thought: Let him catch again.

Reminder: He stopped catching last season because of a brain injury.

The reason he was told to pack away his catcher’s mitt was because he kept getting hurt and there was a belief sticking him at first and having him DH would mean fewer injuries and more games played.

To write “he kept getting hurt” without mentioning the specific injury that forced the position change was to Mauer’s brain and was caused by catching seems misleading at best. An alarming number of catchers across baseball have unfortunately also suffered brain injuries caused by catching in recent years.

Well … Mauer played in 113 games and had 445 at bats while still a catcher in 2013. This season, no longer catching, he played in 120 games and had 455 at bats. Yep, a difference of seven games and 10 at bats.

He did manage to avoid another brain injury, which was the entire point. The fact that Mauer spent time on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle–also an increasingly common injury across baseball in recent years–is secondary to his avoiding further trauma to his brain.

Face it, the guy is brittle wherever you play him. So why not let him play where he’s happiest? Maybe he’ll get his batting average back over .300 if he’s not in sulk mode.

Because he suffered a brain injury while catching and catching puts him at further risk to suffer more brain injuries. And perhaps Mauer had a hard time getting his batting average to its usual mark because he suffered a brain injury last season and dealt with headaches, mood swings, sensitivity to light, and other symptoms for months. Twins fans watched a concussion nearly ruin Justin Morneau’s entire career. Also, “sulk mode” is made-up garbage.

As for current catcher Kurt Suzuki, give him a first baseman’s glove and he can rotate between first and DH with Kennys Vargas when Mauer is catching. Or just sit Suzuki when Mauer catches.

So, to recap: Sansevere wants to move Mauer from first base/designated hitter to catcher and move the current catcher, Kurt Suzuki, to first base/designated hitter. What would that accomplish, exactly? They’d both still be in the lineup taking up the same two positions. And the one with previous brain trauma would be at the more dangerous position.

Bottom line here: The new manager has to stop the Mauer coddling and have him catch again.

Bob Sansevere, veteran, high-profile newspaper columnist and radio host, thinks the Twins were “coddling” a player by moving him away from catcher following a brain injury and thinks moving that same player back to catcher is now the best plan. And he literally never mentions the concussion in the entire column.


UPDATE: Sansevere has now edited the original article in attempt to make it less offensive, adding in several new paragraphs and altering others, but barely notes the changes. One such alteration:

News flash: You can suffer a concussion anywhere on the field, including while playing first base.

Seriously. He added that to the original article.

Geovany Soto leaves Wild Card game with thumb injury

Geovany Soto Athletics
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Geovany Soto, who got the surprise Wild Card game start at catcher for the A’s over Derek Norris, left the game in the third inning with a thumb injury.

He apparently suffered the injury while tagging out Eric Hosmer at the plate on the play where Billy Butler got caught in a rundown. Norris came off the bench to replace Soto.

John Jaso is likely out for the season with a concussion and Stephen Vogt is more a first baseman/outfielder than a catcher at this point, so the A’s would be in a tough spot if Soto’s injury proves major.

Travis Ishikawa will be Giants’ left fielder in Wild Card game


Angel Pagan’s season-ending back injury forced the Giants to move left fielder Gregor Blanco to center field and now manager Bruce Bochy has decided on career-long first baseman Travis Ishikawa as his left fielder for the Wild Card game.

Ishikawa is 31 years old and has started a grand total of three career games in the outfield, so things could get ugly.

Making the decision especially questionable is that Ishikawa is hardly an offensive force, hitting .252 with three homers and a .703 OPS in 62 games this season and .259 with a .719 OPS for his career.

San Francisco’s options just aren’t very appealing, especially with Michael Morse unlikely to be on the roster due to an oblique injury.

Clayton Kershaw “likely” to pitch on short rest if needed

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw will start Game 1 of the NLDS for the Dodgers and according to Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles if the series goes to a Game 4 “it appears quite likely” he’d start on three days’ rest.

Of course, manager Don Mattingly wouldn’t confirm that, saying:

We wouldn’t even think about it until we see what would happen in Game 1 or what kind of situation we’ll be in, so that’s not even a question that we even consider.

However, as Saxon notes Kershaw started on three days’ rest last postseason and performed well against the Braves. And that would also potentially set up Zack Greinke to pitch Game 5, meaning the Dodgers could use Kershaw and Greinke for four of the five games against the Cardinals.