Jake Fox made some headlines during spring training for hitting .333 with an MLB-leading seven homers, which got people who didn’t know any better way too excited about a 27-year-old journeyman without a defensive home.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter stressed that Fox would have to improve defensively to get much playing time and sure enough he got a grand total of just 52 plate appearances through the team’s first 53 games.
Fox didn’t help himself by hitting .188 with two homers and a .646 OPS, and today the Orioles designated him for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Brian Matusz’s return from the disabled list.
Fox can still be a relatively useful bench player, but he’s hit just .231 with a .701 OPS through 519 plate appearances in the majors, isn’t a good enough catcher to be more than an emergency option behind the plate, and showed weak plate discipline even while crushing Triple-A pitching.
More than anything else, though, he shows that spring training numbers mean nothing as soon as the real games start. But we knew that already.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.
Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.
When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.
The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.