Author: D.J. Short

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 19:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees hits a home run as well as getting his 3000th career hit in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers during their game at Yankee Stadium on June 19, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Zack Hample, who caught Alex Rodriguez’s 3000th hit, plans to keep baseball for now


Alex Rodriguez hit a home run for his 3,000th hit last night and the ball ended up in the hands of Zack Hample, a Yankees season ticket holder who is well known for snagging home run balls. He claims to have caught 8,161 baseballs at stadiums around the country and has even written books about it.

That Hample caught the historic homer was interesting, especially in light of what he tweeted (it has since been deleted) on Thursday night in response to a question about what he would do if he caught it:

@Yankeefan98 I’ll give him the finger and a dummy ball. That man deserves favors from no one, least of all a fan.

According to Tim Rohan of the New York Times, this was Hample’s reaction before the Yankees whisked him away in an attempt to get the ball back:

“I really think that whatever you want to do with it is your choice,” Hample said, moments afterward. “I think that somebody like Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez, who’s made half a billion dollars in their career, doesn’t really need a favor from, you know, a normal civilian and a fan like me. I don’t know right now if I’m going to sell it. Depending on what the Yankees could offer, I’d consider giving it back.”

The negotiations, which included Yankees president Randy Levine and chief operating officer Lonn Trost, didn’t get anywhere last night. Here’s a tweet from Hample during the game:

Hample appears to be softening on that stance, as he later told the Associated Press that he’s “thinking about” giving the ball back because the Yankees were “so nice.” He said the same thing on his Twitter account this morning.

David Kohler of SCP Auctions told ESPN that the ball is worth more than $50,000. Regardless of how you feel about Hample or his supposed approach to catching baseballs, that’s a lot of money to potentially turn down. It’s his right to keep it or sell it.

When Derek Jeter homered for his 3000th hit in 2011, Christian Lopez was quick to return the ball in exchange for some premium seats and memorabilia. It’s not coming as easily this time around:

“Where’s Jeet’s guy? That’s the guy I needed,” Rodriguez said. “I wasn’t so lucky.”

Jorge Soler takes batting practice for first time since ankle injury

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 23:  Jorge Soler #68 of the Chicago Cubs follows through on a swing against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on May 23, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Jorge Soler has been sidelined since June 1 due to a left ankle sprain, but he’s getting closer to rejoining the Cubs.

According to Tony Andracki of, Soler was able to take batting practice yesterday for the first time since the injury. He resumed throwing over the weekend and was recently able to shed his walking boot. He’s likely not far off from a minor league rehab assignment at this point.

After a strong showing during his first stint in the majors this season, the 23-year-old Soler was off to a bit of a slow start prior to the injury, batting .265/.322/.402 with four home runs and 19 RBI over 49 games. Chris Denorfia is playing right field in his absence.

Report: Blue Jays interested in Francisco Rodriguez

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 03:  Francisco Rodriguez #57 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws against the Chicago Cubs during the ninth inning on May 3, 2015 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.  The  Brewers defeated the Cubs 5-3.(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

The Blue Jays were linked to Francisco Rodriguez when he was a free agent over the winter and now Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports that the team has been in contact with the Brewers about a potential trade.

After posting a 3.04 ERA and 73/18 K/BB ratio in 69 appearances with Milwaukee last season, the 33-year-old Rodriguez has a 1.13 ERA with 26 strikeouts and seven walks over 24 innings so far this year. He’s a perfect 13-for-13 in save chances. The Brewers figure to be one of only a handful of sellers in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, so Rodriguez would appear to be an obvious candidate to be moved. Brett Cecil is functioning as Toronto’s closer right now, but he has only had seven save chances all season and owns a 4.50 ERA over 25 appearances. An upgrade makes sense.

Rodriguez is under contract for $5.5 million this season and his contract includes a $6 million option or $4 million buyout for 2016.

With Aaron Sanchez on the disabled list due to a lat injury, Elliott hears that the Blue Jays are also in the market for a starting pitcher.

Who will be the next player to join the 3,000-hit club?

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 19:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees hugs teammate CC Sabathia #52 after hitting a solo home run in the first inning for his 3,000th career hit against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on June 19, 2015 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Last night, Alex Rodriguez became the 29th player in MLB history to join the 3,000-hit club. He’s the first player to reach the milestone since former teammate Derek Jeter on July 9, 2011.

After Jeter reached 3,000, I attempted to make a guess about who would be next. I went with Rodriguez, but figured he would get there in 2013. I was only off by two years. His hip surgery and year-long PED suspension obviously pushed back that timeline significantly. Still, better late than never. Rodriguez reaching 3,000 hits almost seemed like a longshot a year ago.

Who will be next to reach 3,000 hits? Removing Rodriguez from the mix, here’s the list of the current active leaders in hits (their ages in parentheses):

Ichiro Suzuki (41) – 2,886
Adrian Beltre (36) – 2,657
Albert Pujols (35) – 2,587
Miguel Tejada (41) – 2,407
Torii Hunter (39) – 2,386
Carlos Beltran (38) – 2,373
Jimmy Rollins (36) – 2,353
Miguel Cabrera (32) – 2,268
Aramis Ramirez (37) – 2,230
David Ortiz (39) – 2,211

Not surprisingly, the great majority of these players are toward the end of their respective careers. Tejada is still technically active, but we can effectively scratch him off as a possibility. Similarly, it’s highly unlikely that Ortiz, Ramirez, Rollins, Beltran, and Hunter will get there.

That leaves Suzuki, Beltre, Pujols, and Cabrera as our best options. Suzuki has played well in a part-time role with the Marlins this season, but he has only had 42 hits. Let’s say he can double that the rest of the way. That would put him at 2,928 hits, just 72 away from the milestone. The Marlins have reportedly had internal discussions about bringing Ichiro back for 2016, which makes sense given that they could market his chase. I think he’ll be the next to reach the milestone if he decides to come back.

Beltre and Pujols are both still young enough where 3,000 is within reach. Beltre is currently sidelined with a thumb injury and his .257/.294/.408 batting line isn’t on par with his usual lofty standards, but he likely has some productive seasons left in him and 343 hits doesn’t feel like a stretch here. However, he appears unlikely to get there until at least 2017. Pujols is 413 hits away and while he’s not putting up the monster numbers we saw during his peak with the Cardinals, he’s still very good. Keep in mind that he’s under contract through 2021. Barring injury, he’ll get there eventually.

Cabrera, is the closest thing we have to a lock on this list. He has averaged 191 hits per season since 2004 and has showed no signs of slowing down since his offseason foot surgery, leading the American League in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS this season. He doesn’t turn 33 until next April and appears poised to blow well past 3,000 if he can remain healthy. Still, he wouldn’t figure to get there anytime before 2018.

Diamondbacks sign Jhoulys Chacin to minor league contract

Jhoulys Chacin
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According to Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic, the Diamondbacks have signed right-hander Jhoulys Chacin to a minor league contract. This confirms a report by Augusto Cardenas out of Venezuela, who says the deal includes an opt-out on July 5 if he’s not added to the major league roster.

Chacin was just granted his release by the Indians this week. The 27-year-old has pitched exclusively at the Triple-A level this season, posting a 3.21 ERA with a 25/15 K/BB ratio in 42 innings over seven starts. The Diamondbacks plan to have him pitch at Triple-A Reno for now.

Chacin was once a highly-regarded prospect with the Rockies and had a 3.58 ERA for the club between 2010-2013, but he was limited to just 11 starts last season due to a shoulder problem and Colorado gave up on him this spring.