Author: Matthew Pouliot

Shane Victorino

Red Sox place Shane Victorino on 15-day disabled list

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The Red Sox probably got a little better today in placing Shane Victorino on the 15-day disabled list with a strained hamstring.

Due to various ailments, Victorino has been day-to-day since pretty much the start of the spring, and he’s hit just .143/.302/.171 in 35 at-bats to begin the regular season. He also hasn’t looked like his old self in right field. It seems pretty obvious that he can’t help the Red Sox unless he’s 100 percent — and perhaps not then — so it makes sense to sit him out for a couple of weeks to get him healthy.

With Rusney Castillo still on the minor league DL because of a shoulder injury, the Red Sox will get by with some combination of Brock Holt, Daniel Nava and Allen Craig in right field. Holt probably deserves most of the playing time against right-handers, considering he’s off to a 14-for-33 start at the plate and he’s the best defender in the group.

Matt Barnes was called up from Triple-A as Victorino’s replacement, giving the Red Sox the eight-man bullpen they might need with their rotation of 5 1/3-inning pitchers.

Former Cubs catcher, Expos manager Jim Fanning dies at 87

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Jim Fanning, best known as a former general manager and manager of the Expos, passed away Saturday at age 87.

Fanning did a bit of everything over the course of his long career in baseball. He played in 64 games as a catcher for the Cubs from 1954-57, hitting .170 with no homers in 141 at-bats. After calling it a career at age 33, he went into managing in the minors, and then he found himself with the Expos at their birth, becoming their general manager prior to the expansion draft in 1968. He later served as their director of scouting and took over as manager in 1981, occupying the role through the 1982 season and again briefly in 1984.

Fanning also worked for the Blue Jays towards the end of his career, serving as an ambassador. He adopted Canada as his home and was elected into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000. In 2009, the Blue Jays held a pregame ceremony for him, honoring his 60 years in baseball.

Josh Hamilton heads back where he belongs

Josh Hamilton
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With the Angels so terribly eager to dump him, Friday’s trade couldn’t have possibly worked out much better for Josh Hamilton.

Hamilton, ostracized by Angels management after his drug relapse, will return to a setting that suits him far better, even if his time in Arlington didn’t end on a high note. While there is lingering bitterness from part of the fan base, some of it deserved after negative comments that Hamilton made, there’s nothing so bad it can’t be put into the past. Obviously, Hamilton is embracing it, since he’s giving up money to make the trade happen. Hamilton was, after all, a bonafide superstar in Texas, winning MVP honors in 2010 and going to All-Star Games in each of his five seasons with the club. He hit 43 homers and drove in 128 runs in his final season there in 2012.

Just getting back into a ballpark that favors left-handed power hitters should do wonders for Hamilton. His decline in Anaheim wasn’t all about the tough hitting environment there, but it did exacerbate his problems. In 2014, all 10 of Hamilton’s homers came in road games. He hit .249/.314/.302 at home and .278/.347/.527 on the road. Basically, he was still a star while playing outside of Southern California.

It’s too much to ask Hamilton to match those road numbers after he returns from shoulder surgery this year, especially with everything else he’s dealing with off the field, including a divorce, but this is the best-case scenario for him from an on-field standpoint. And it’s a nice gamble for the Rangers, since they’ll be paying a fraction of the $25 million per year he’s owed through 2017. Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan says they’ll be on the hook for a mere $15 million total.

The Rangers will have to wait for Hamilton to finish rehabbing his shoulder, but once healthy, he’ll fill their massive void in left field. They opened the spring with Ryan Rua, Jake Smolinski, Michael Choice, Carlos Peguero and veterans Ryan Ludwick and Nate Schierholtz competing for the job, eventually settling on Rua and Smolinski. Rua, though, is going to miss at least a month with an ankle injury, and he wasn’t likely to settle in as a quality regular anyway.

 

 

When instant replay wrongs a right

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With the score tied at 5 in the eighth inning of Sunday’s Cardinals-Reds game, Yadier Molina dropped down a sac bunt with runners on first and second and none out. It was a bad bunt and Molina was slow getting out of the box. Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco picked up the ball and attempted to tag Molina without getting the call. No problem. Mesoraco simply threw to third for the force, and Todd Frazier was able to convert the double play by throwing to first.

That should have been the end of things. Except for one very important fact: Mesoraco did, in fact, tag Molina on the play.

The Cardinals saw the tag on replay, and Mike Matheny came out to challenge the call. Replay determined that Kerwin Danley blew it when he signaled that no tag was made. Unfortunately, at this point, Danley and crew chief Joe West decided that this meant Peter Bourjos was safe at third base, giving the Cardinals runners on second and third with one out in the frame.

That was totally the wrong outcome. Had Frazier known the tag was made on Molina and there was no force at third base, he would have been in position to make the tag on Bourjos at third base, completing the double play. It’s not 100 percent sure that he would have gotten the tag down, but it was clearly better than 50-50.

The crew is given discretion in cases like these to determine what should have happened. Being that it was a Joe West crew, it’s not much of a surprise that the decision turned out wrong. At least the Cardinals failed to capitalize, with Kolten Wong and Matt Adams popping up to end the inning and keep the game tied.

Still, if you ask me, plays like this are another reason that managers should not be involved in the replay process. I don’t want managers looking for technicalities in order to steal or revoke outs. This was basically a loophole that Matheny crawled through; the defense earned this double play, only to be stripped of it by Danley’s bad call. The very thing replay was designed to overcome was used against it here.

Red Sox outlast Yankees in 19 innings

Pablo Sandoval
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The Red Sox scored in the 16th and 18th innings, but it wasn’t enough. It took them 19 innings and over seven hours to finally finish off the Yankees on Friday night, winning 6-5 after a Mookie Betts sacrifice fly.

While the game ended more than seven hours after it started, technically, it lasted 6:49; there was a 16-minute delay after a lighting stand went out in the 10th. By time of game, it was the longest contest in Red Sox history and second longest for the Yankees.

By number of innings, it was the second longest Red Sox-Yankees marathon. The Yankees beat the Red Sox 4-3 in 20 innings on Aug. 29, 1967. Amazingly enough, that was the second game of a doubleheader.

Tonight’s game featured the Red Sox jumping out to a 3-0 lead against starter Nathan Eovaldi. The Yankees rallied for two in the bottom of the sixth, and then tied it in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the ninth, when Chase Headley homered off Boston’s fill-in closer, Edward Mujica, with two outs in the frame.

That was it for the scoring until David Ortiz homered off Esmil Rogers in the 16th. The Yankees responded when Mark Teixeira took knuckleballer Steven Wright deep in the bottom of the inning.

In the 18th, Pablo Sandoval singled in Dustin Pedroia to make it a 5-4 game. Carlos Beltran then doubled in pinch-runner John Ryan Murphy to tie it back up.

Wright was the winner despite blowing the two leads. He pitched five innings, allowing two runs. He’ll now be sent down to make room for Saturday’s starter, Joe Kelly.

Rogers was offered up as a sacrifice by the Yankees. He threw 35 pitches Thursday, and the team would have preferred to stay away from him entirely tonight. In fact, manager Joe Girardi let Chasen Shreve throw 3 1/3 innings — his long outing since Double-A — before turning to Rogers in the 14th. Rogers went on to pitch 4 2/3 innings and throw 81 pitches. He can’t be optioned out, so the Yankees might well find a reason to put him on the DL before Saturday’s game. After 116 pitches in two days, they probably won’t have to look very hard.

On the offensive side, Pablo Sandoval and Xander Bogaerts had four-hit games for Boston. All four of Bogaerts’ hits came in extras. Mike Napoli, meanwhile, went 0-for-8 with four strikeouts. The Yankees had no one with more than two hits. Carlos Beltran and Didi Gregorius both went 1-for-6 in the contest, even though neither started.