This has to be the last one of these, right? Games are being played. Pitchers are going more than two innings. Clearly we’re past the point where feature articles are being written about ballplayers rededicating themselves and all of that, right?
Oh well, for now at least, here’s the last one: Nick Swisher:
Yet few think of Swisher in that company, and he knows he’s running out of time to change outside perceptions. After a generally down year in 2011, he rededicated himself to his offseason workouts. He showed up ripped, and said he’s quicker, stronger, and faster than ever before—something manager Joe Girardi couldn’t help but notice.
“He’s all three of those—quicker, stronger, and faster. I think he gets around the bases better, I watch him in the outfield, I watched him play first base the other day—he’s swung the bat well,” Girardi said.
That “outside perceptions” stuff is about how, despite being a pretty darn productive player overall, people tend to think of him as more of a goofball than as a solid, dedicated ballplayer.
Gee, if only people stopped making such unwarranted assumptions.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.