Bill Baer

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Jose Bautista isn’t sure if a hot dog is a sandwich


With the Blue Jays off on Monday, outfielder Jose Bautista went to Twitter Canada and took questions from fans on Twitter. Because it’s the Internet, people used the opportunity to ask him about anything other than baseball, including my personal favorite, “Is a hot dog a sandwich?”

Bautista doesn’t know if a hot dog qualifies as a sandwich or not. He said, “I don’t really know if it matters. All I know is they’re delicious and they sell ’em at stadiums. I don’t think it matters if they’re a sandwich or not.”

A hot dog is most certainly a sandwich, Jose.

Cubs acquire Geovanni Soto from the Indians

Cleveland Indians pitcher Giovanni Soto throws against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning during an exhibition spring training baseball game in Goodyear, Ariz., Friday, Feb. 22, 2013.  (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

The Cubs announced the acquisition of pitcher Geovanni Soto from the Indians in exchange for cash considerations. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Cubs transferred Kyle Schwarber to the 60-day disabled list.

Soto, 24, made his major league debut last season and made six appearances spanning 3 1/3 innings. He recorded neither a strikeout nor a walk. Soto spent most of the season with Triple-A Columbus, compiling a 2.68 ERA with a 51/29 K/BB ratio in 53 2/3 innings.

Schwarber, sadly, suffered a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee when he collided with teammate Dexter Fowler in the outfield on Thursday against the Diamondbacks. He’ll miss the entire 2016 season.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

Seattle Mariners' Robinson Cano (22) makes contact for a two-run home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers Wednesday, April 6, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
AP Photo/Brandon Wade

Now that the regular season schedule has normalized somewhat, we can introduce something we would like to do for you here at HardballTalk: preview the baseball action every night. We’ll give you the pitching matchups and any important aspect of the game that might make it compelling. As it’s a new feature, we are certainly open to hearing your feedback and will make adjustments as needed. These might not always be as thorough; sometimes less is more.

Chicago White Sox (Jose Quintana) @ Minnesota Twins (Kyle Gibson), 4:10 PM EST

Jose Quintana is among the most unlucky pitchers in baseball. Since he came into the league in 2012, only one pitcher has recorded more quality starts (at least 6 innings pitched, three or fewer earned runs allowed) without getting the win: Cole Hamels (53). Quintana is tied for second place with James Shields (45), followed by Jeff Samardzija (42). Quintana came one out shy of a quality start in his season debut last Tuesday against the Athletics. He’ll try to grab that elusive W tonight against the Twins.

Milwaukee Brewers (Taylor Jungmann) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Michael Wacha), 4:15 PM EST

How about Scooter Gennett‘s hot start? The Brewers’ second baseman, in 22 plate appearances, has four singles and three solo homers while walking more times than he has struck out (four to three). Gennett’s career-high in home runs for a full season is nine, set in 2014. While he started on Opening Day against a lefty starter (Madison Bumgarner), he sat on Sunday against Dallas Keuchel in favor of Yadiel Rivera. Gennett’s career platoon split is pretty severe — .803 OPS vs. righties, .349 vs. lefties — so expect that to happen often throughout the season.

Atlanta Braves (Bud Norris) @ Washington Nationals (Max Scherzer), 7:05 PM EST

Braves prospect Mallex Smith is making his major league debut on Monday and he’ll immediately be tested against Max Scherzer. Outfielder Ender Inciarte suffered a strained hamstring, opening the door for Smith, who began his minor league season with four singles, two doubles, a triple, and a stolen base in his first 16 plate appearances with Triple-A Gwinnett. The Braves acquired Smith along with three others from the Padres in the Justin Upton deal.

Miami Marlins (Jarred Cosart) @ New York Mets (Steven Matz), 7:10 PM EST

During the offseason, the Mets brought back Yoenis Cespedes, replaced Daniel Murphy with Neil Walker, and bolstered the shortstop position by signing Asdrubal Cabrera. The offense should be even better than it was last year, right? It hasn’t so far. As a team, the club has mustered only a .529 OPS and their two home runs are tied with the Marlins and Pirates for the fewest in the league. David Wright and Michael Conforto are the Mets’ only regulars with an above-average OPS, and it’s only because they have drawn seven walks in their 38 combined plate appearances. While the Mets have the tough task of facing Jose Fernandez on Tuesday, they’ll get Jarred Cosart on Monday night and Adam Conley on Wednesday afternoon. That’s as good a time as any for the offense to make an appearance.

Cincinnati Reds (Brandon Finnegan) @ Chicago Cubs (Jon Lester), 8:05 PM EST

The Reds last season finished with the second-worst record in baseball. In the midst of a rebuild, the club traded Johnny Cueto to the Royals ahead of the trade deadline last year, and sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox during the offseason. One would think they’d get off to a rough start in 2015, but they’re currently 5-1. They beat the Phillies on Opening Day with a five-run rally in the eighth inning. The next game, they walked off against the Phillies on a Scott Schebler double. The Reds completed the sweep with an eight-run fourth inning the next day. On Friday, the Pirates slowed their roll, pulling off a 6-5 victory, but the Reds exacted revenge with a 5-1 win on Saturday. On Sunday, they walked off again as Jay Bruce tripled off of Arquimedes Caminero. They’ll have their hands full with Jon Lester, who pitched excellently on Opening Day against the Angels, hurling seven innings of one-run ball.

Kansas City Royals (Chris Young) @ Houston Astros (Collin McHugh), 8:10 PM EST

So far, the Astros’ pitching has been a nightmare. Their 7.02 ERA over six games is by far the worst in the league and a lot of it has to do with tonight’s starter, Collin McHugh. The right-hander recorded only one out before being pulled against the Yankees last Wednesday, serving up six runs (five earned) on three hits and a pair of walks. McHugh has always been the inconsistent sort, but he finished eighth in AL Cy Young balloting last season with a 19-7 record, 3.89 ERA, and 171/53 K/BB ratio over 203 2/3 innings. If he is to rebound tonight, he’ll have to do it against the defending world champs.

Los Angeles Angels (Nick Tropeano) @ Oakland Athletics (Sonny Gray), 10:05 PM EST

Nick Tropeano gets the start Monday in place of Andrew Heaney, who suffered a flexor strain. Tropeano didn’t make the club’s Opening Day roster as he struggled in five spring training starts, but he was quite good in seven sporadic starts and a relief appearance last season. He finished with a 3.82 ERA and a 38/10 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings. Heaney, as a former top prospect, has more upside, but the Angels may not be missing that much in going to Tropeano.

Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis) @ Seattle Mariners (Hisashi Iwakuma), 10:10 PM EST

Robinson Cano is off to a scorching start, having blasted four homers in his first 27 plate appearances. He didn’t hit his fourth homer until June 26 last season. His slow start had many concerned, particularly because he was in the second year of a ten-year, $240 million deal. Cano still finished with fine numbers, hitting 21 homers total with 79 RBI and a .779 OPS. If he doesn’t have such a slow start this year, imagine where his numbers might wind up.

Jose Bautista learned from last week’s slide incident

Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Bautista celebrates his two-run home run with teammate Josh Donaldson during the first inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox in Toronto, Saturday, April 9, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP

Last Tuesday, Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista was called out for slide interference on a double play attempt in the ninth inning, resulting in the game ending in a loss against the Rays. There was a lot of controversy over the ruling, but ultimately the correct call was made.

Bautista learned from his mistake. The Jays had the bases loaded in the first inning of Sunday’s game against the Red Sox after Bautista had drawn a walk. Edwin Encarnacion hit a ground ball to shortstop Xander Bogaerts for what seemed like an easy double play. However, Bogaerts had a moment of indecision and quickly fed the ball to second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who then fired high to first baseman Hanley Ramirez, allowing a run to score and Encarnacion to reach safely.

What you can see on the replay is that Bautista made certain to slide directly into the bag and held onto it with his hand, making sure there was no chance he would be called for an infraction. Here’s a link to the video.

We’ll see more of this as the season goes on — the players will become more familiar with the correct way to slide into the bag and soon it will become second nature.

The A’s seem to be leaning towards platooning Billy Butler

Oakland Athletics Billy Butler follows through on an RBI double against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning of a spring training baseball game, Tuesday, March 29, 2016, in Mesa, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
AP Photo/Matt York

Billy Butler remained out of the Athletics’ lineup on Sunday and won’t be back in there on Monday when they take on the Angels. Right-hander Nick Tropeano will start for the Halos, marking the fourth day in a row the A’s will face a right-handed starter.

This seems to point towards a platoon, but A’s manager Bob Melvin didn’t admit to it. Via’s Jane Lee, Melvin said that Butler would be in the lineup on Tuesday, when lefty Hector Santiago will start for the Angels.

“That’s a tough one right now,” Melvin said Sunday morning. “That’s going to be a day-to-day proposition. I communicated with him where we are right now.”

Butler doubled twice on Opening Day and is 3-for-10 to start the season. However, the soon-to-be 30-year-old hit a disappointing .251 with 15 home runs in 601 plate appearances last year after signing a three-year, $30 million contract.

In terms of OPS, Butler has hit lefties over 100 points better than righties last year, with respective marks of .887 and .765. That being said, Butler actually hit same-handed pitching better in 2015, with a .722 OPS versus righties and .687 versus lefties.