The New England Patriots’ Julian Edelman is the NFL’s lone two-way player, having filled in admirably at cornerback in addition to his wide receiver duties last season. Apparently, that only scratches the surface of his versatility, though.
“He worked out for us at shortstop and took ground balls and fly balls, and he took batting practice with Group Four, and he just wowed us,” Blue Jays third base coach and infield instructor Brian Butterfield told WEEI.com. “He worked unbelievably hard, and was just soaked by the end of batting practice.”
Edelman hooked up with the Blue Jays through friend J.P. Arencibia. Working out with the team on Sunday, he hit five homers during batting practice, including two “absolute bombs” into the middle deck at Rogers Centre.
Butterfield lauded Edelman’s great footwork around the infield and said that of all the non-baseball players to work out with the Jays, he was “far and away the best I’ve seen by a pretty wide margin. He is a really good player.”
Of course, Edelman isn’t really going to try the two-sport thing. He’s not through with baseball just yet, though, as he is hoping to work out with the Red Sox someday soon.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.