Josh Beckett’s shoulder injury left the Red Sox needing a fill-in starter yesterday and rather than call someone up from the minors they turned to Franklin Morales, who’d only pitched out of the bullpen since arriving in Boston last year and hadn’t started a game since April 21, 2009.
Morales had thrown more than 40 pitches in appearance just once all season, yet he tossed 80 pitches in five innings of two-run ball against the Cubs while striking out nine and walking zero.
It was a helluva performance, especially on short notice and after being strictly a reliever for more than three years. Or as teammate Vicente Padilla put it afterward: “He was a horse. Secretariat.”
Bobby Valentine told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe that he “had a hunch” Morales would come through with a solid effort and the manager indicated that he may stick in the rotation with Beckett on the disabled list.
(Side note: We’re all agreed that “Secretariat” is Morales’ new nickname for life, right? Has to be.)
On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.
After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.
Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.
The full statement:
Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.
We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.
We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.
Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.