Today there are a lot of Harmon Killebrew stories floating around. Most of them involve an interview with the guy or meeting him in spring training sometime in the past few years. Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly has one that goes a little further back. To age 9, when he got an autograph outside the visitor’s clubhouse at Fenway Park:
The third man in the group was stocky and balding and his temples were gray. When you’re 9, you have a terrible concept of age. You think of anyone who doesn’t go out for Halloween anymore as old. With that, I must confess I thought the balding man was the trainer. But trying to be polite, I asked him if he’d sign as well.
The man was gracious and completely untroubled. He smiled and said he’d be happy to sign my ball.
It sure as hell wasn’t Cesar Tovar.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.