While in Washington to play the Nationals this weekend Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa will be guests at the “Restoring Honor” rally organized by FOX News host Glenn Beck and featuring former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Pujols is being honored at the event and La Russa will be on hand to introduce him to what’s expected to be a crowd of over 20,000 gathering at the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech.
Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch writes that La Russa was only willing to attend and involve Pujols “after receiving assurances that the event is not a thinly disguised political rally.” Here’s more from the manager, who got into some hot water last month for publicly supporting the Arizona immigration law:
I made it clear when we were approached. I said, “If it’s political, I wouldn’t even approach Albert with it.” I don’t want to be there if it’s political. I made the point several times: “What is this about?” I don’t know who’s going to be there, who’s going to accept it. But the gist of the day is not political. I think it’s a really good concept, actually.
I’ll go out on a limb here and guess that a rally hosted by Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin at the base of the Lincoln Memorial will probably have just a tad of politics involved. Strauss notes that “some liberal critics have portrayed the three-hour event as a platform for the conservative Tea Party movement” and adds that “the rally is expected to include a faith-based message, something that squares with Pujols’ commitment to his faith as well as his Pujols Family Foundation.”
Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.
According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.
Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.