Brad Penny downplays mound argument with Victor Martinez

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Brad Penny and Victor Martinez got into a heated argument on the mound in the middle of the fourth inning yesterday, with Penny being removed from the game a short time later after allowing seven runs in 3.1 innings against the Angels.

Martinez refused to speak about the situation afterward, but Penny downplayed the incident and said the disagreement was over his wanting to come to a set position while the catcher was giving signs:

It had nothing to do with pitch selection or anything like that. With a runner on second, I like to come set taking signs. That way the hitter can’t look at second base and anything there. I’ve pitched my whole career that way, and he didn’t want me to do it. I know there’s no other way for me. I guess it’s a habit. It’s natural. I’ve done it my whole career. It’s not that big of a deal. Me and Victor have been friends for a while now, and that happens when you’re competing.

Martinez declining to talk about it suggests he thinks the argument was a bit more serious, but as Penny notes they worked together with the Red Sox in 2009 and have teamed up for eight starts this season. Prior to yesterday’s disaster outing Penny had a 4.52 ERA with Martinez catching him and liked working with the catcher enough to effusively praise him to the media back in February:

What I liked about Victor is he was never negative in any way. If you’re struggling and he comes out to the mound and talks to you, it’s all positive. I mean, you can see he just knows you’re going to get out of it and do good. You can see it in his eyes. I mean, like I said before, what a great teammate. You guys are going to be really impressed with him as a person, not only as a player.

Martinez is “never negative in any way” and if “he comes out to the mound and talks to you it’s all positive.” Except yesterday, when he started yelling at Penny while walking out from behind the plate and was so upset that he wouldn’t even address the incident with reporters. But other than that, all positive!

Penny and Martinez hadn’t been paired up since June 26 and something tells me it might be more than a month before they work together again.

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.