Ryan Raburn is 31 years old with 1,632 plate appearances and a .750 OPS in the majors, but a brutal start this season has him back at Triple-A.
Detroit decided it had seen enough after Raburn hit just .146 with an ugly 35/8 K/BB ratio in 37 games split between second base and the outfield, demoting the veteran making $2.1 million this season.
Manager Jim Leyland stressed to Jason Beck of MLB.com that “this is not a punishment” for Raburn and added that “we have to try to get him going.”
Beck reports that Ramon Santiago and Danny Worth will likely share second base duties in Raburn’s absence and the Tigers called up journeyman catcher Omir Santos from Triple-A to fill his roster spot.
This isn’t the first time Raburn’s slow start has led to the Tigers sending him to the minors, and in the past he’s generally responded well to the temporary demotions. Or as Raburn put it: “It’s just a matter of getting it going and getting back.”
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.