James Loney is off to a terrible start and was benched against a left-handed pitcher yesterday, so in an effort to snap the first baseman out of his slump manager Don Mattingly has decided to fine him $1 each time he flies out to left field.
According to the Dodgers manager Loney will “take a dollar back every time he hits a line drive to left.”
Loney is making $4.9 million this season, so obviously a $1 fine is purely symbolic, but the fact that a first baseman is being urged not to hit fly balls to the outfield shows why the Dodgers should probably be looking for another first baseman.
Even at his best Loney’s lack of power made him a mediocre hitter and because of that he starts dragging the lineup down when he’s not hitting at least .280. Last season Loney hit .267 with just 10 homers and a .723 OPS, which ranked 22nd among the 24 first basemen with at least 500 plate appearances. So far this year he’s hitting .202 with a .471 OPS.
Line drives are a good thing and encouraging Loney to avoid fly balls is a reasonable stance given his lack of power, but the Dodgers would be better off finding a first baseman whose fly balls actually travel over the fence more than 10-15 times a season and with slugging prospect Jerry Sands waiting in the wings that switch may be in the near future.
Time is running out for Orioles right-hander Andrew Cashner to make a comeback this fall, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports that he may not make it back to the mound before the regular season comes to a close next weekend. Cashner is still dealing with a lingering bout of bursitis in his left knee and was forced to miss his scheduled start against the Blue Jays on Monday. As no timetable has been given for his return to the rotation, it seems increasingly likely that he’ll be kept on the shelf until spring.
It’s been an up-and-down year for the 32-year-old righty, who has also missed some playing time after sustaining a neck strain and low back pain. After inking a two-year, $16 million deal with the Orioles back in February, he pitched to a 4-15 record in 28 starts with a career-worst 5.29 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, and 5.8 SO/9 through 153 innings. By the time he was sidelined with swelling and chronic pain in his knee, he’d already taken five straight losses, the last of which was an eight-run, one-strikeout affair against the Athletics that lasted only two innings.
The silver lining: It doesn’t look like Cashner’s knee problems will require any intensive treatment — he’s already received a cortisone injection to treat the problem areas — though there’s no reason for the Orioles to push him to make a quick recovery with the way their season is going. Following their 10-8 loss to the Yankees on Friday, the team will enter Saturday’s game with a 44-109 record, the worst in the majors.