I missed this because, really, I had no idea that baseball took place after 11PM Eastern time. But in last night’s Braves-Mariners game, the M’s had a catcher fiasco. Miguel Olivo left early due to cramps in his hamstring and the backup catcher, Chris Gimenez, strained his oblique in the fifth inning.
Gimenez could apparently still catch the ball — he stayed in the game — but when he came up to bat in the 7th inning with two runners on and two outs in a one-run game, he did something strange: he tried to bunt. And he struck out, watching strike three go by. Here was Eric Wedge’s explanation:
“I tell you what, Chris really sucked it up,” Wedge said. “We had to keep him back there because we needed a catcher. In that situation there, we have him try to bunt for a hit. It was either two shots to get a bunt for a hit, otherwise he had to take it like a man and just hope that he walked him.”
Or, in a close game, with runners on, when you’re still in the race for the playoffs, you could, you know, pinch hit for him? And hope that your emergency catcher — which every team has, right? — can handle two innings behind the plate?
So, which was it, Wedge: was this not an emergency, or do you not have an emergency catcher?
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.