Bill Baer

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Video: J.T. Riddle gets first MLB hit with a check-swing on a pitch in the dirt

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On Sunday, the Marlins promoted shortstop prospect J.T. Riddle to replace the injured Adeiny Hechavarria. MLB Pipeline ranked Riddle as the club’s 12th-best prospect. He appeared in his first game on Tuesday, but went 0-for-4 against the Braves.

Riddle was looking for his first hit on Wednesday and found it in the top of the second inning against Jaime Garcia. With an 0-2 count, Garcia threw a curve that bounced in the dirt in front of the plate. Riddle checked his swing, but still made contact with the ball, which weakly rolled down the third base line in fair territory. Adonis Garcia made a valiant effort to barehand the ball and throw across the diamond, but Riddle beat the throw and was ruled safe for his first major league hit.

Riddle’s family, in attendance at Marlins Park, was bewildered by what went on. His stepfather (and coach) was asked if that was how he envisioned J.T.’s first major league hit and he said, “No, but we will take it.” His mother said, “I just wanted him to hit the ball. I was kind of worried, but we’ll call it a hit, I guess.” His sister said, “I thought it was a crazy hit.”

The Marlins lost Wednesday’s game 5-4 to the Braves.

Olney: Teams could utilize a four-man outfield soon

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On the heels of the stats revolution that popularized the use of the infield shift, ESPN’s Buster Olney thinks teams could soon utilize a four-man outfield in certain situations. According to Olney, some evaluators have considered the possibility as a means to curtail big innings in high-leverage situations.

Olney goes through several scenarios, suggesting that it would take a confluence of factors to make a team resort to a four-man outfield: the pitcher would need to be prone to giving up fly balls, the batter would need to be prone to hitting fly balls to his pull side, and it would likely have to be in a two-out situation.

Many scoffed when teams began implementing shifts on a regular basis, suggesting that teams were overthinking. I’d imagine many of the same people will scoff at the idea of a four-man outfield. I’m with Olney, though, in thinking that it very well could become a part of teams’ defensive arsenals.

That being said, the idea of a four-man outfield isn’t new. As Olney notes, then-Rays manager Joe Maddon utilized a four-man outfield against noted sluggers David Ortiz and Jim Thome. It hasn’t been used much since then, however.

Freddy Galvis happy with Phillies’ decision to extend protective netting

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Last summer, Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis lined a foul ball into the stands and unfortunately struck and injured a young girl. After the game, Galvis pleaded for the Phillies to extend the protective netting further down the first and third base lines. The next day, another fan was struck in nearly the same area and Galvis — in the field this time — threw his hands up in frustration.

During the offseason, the Phillies did heed the advice of their shortstop, extending the netting to the far ends of both the home and visitors’ dugouts.

Two weeks into the regular season, Galvis is happy, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. Galvis said, “A little bit over the dugout and I think more people are going to be safe. The last couple of days, I think I saw like one guy get hit on the other side [of the netting]. But this is a good start. Let’s see what it brings and go from there.”

Galvis added, “I don’t know if it was because I said something, but at the point right now I feel good, because people come here with their families and they’re protected right now, especially young kids. I think right now there’s more safety. You hit one into the net, OK, that’s over. We have the net right there and you can keep your focus on the game.”

Around this time last year, Craig noted that the players in particular seem to be very much in favor of extending the protective netting.

Zolecki reports that the Phillies invited season-ticket holders with seats behind the dugout to take a look at the field from behind the extended netting. Of the 175 people to show up, none cancelled their season tickets and only 10 asked to have their seats relocated.

Mike Stiles, Phillies executive VP and COO, said, “Since we started playing, we’ve had no complaints. The comments that we’re getting right now is, ‘It’s not interfering with our ability to watch the game,’ and ‘We appreciate being behind the netting.'”

Stiles continued, “Our players have been good about flipping balls lightly over the netting so they’re still getting some foul balls. It’s been a very positive experience. It was the right move, and I think we did it the right way giving people an opportunity to come look. If they wanted to move, they could.”