UPDATE: Good news for the Rangers, as Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest reports that Hamilton is in the lineup as the designated hitter for tonight’s game.
9:45 AM ET: Josh Hamilton left last night’s game against the Twins with lower back spasms. He tweaked his back in the top of the fifth inning after he made an error while trying to track down a fly ball near the warning track in left field. Leonys Martin then pinch-hit for him in the bottom-half of the inning.
Hamilton told MLB.com’s Christian Corona after the game that he had “never felt anything like it before,” but that he had already noticed some improvement. While he felt confident the back issue wouldn’t force him to miss next week’s All-Star Game, his status for Saturday isn’t yet known.
“I’ll know when I wake up tomorrow morning,” Hamilton said. “It still hurts. It’s not as bad. After I iced it, it actually felt worse, but then it thaws out and it feels better. It’s a good sign.”
Hamilton, the leading vote-getter for the All-Star Game, is batting just .222 with five homers and a 37/14 K/BB ratio in 30 games dating back to the start of June. However, thanks to his absurdly hot start, he still leads the American League in RBI, OPS and slugging percentage.
The Orioles don’t yet have the worst record in baseball. They’re tied for the most losses with 16, but they have two more wins than the Marlins and one more than the Royals, so let’s say that they have overachieved to this point. Kudos to being a bit plucky in the early going!
But make no mistake: the Orioles are not a good team and I suspect they will soon be the worst in the league. When they are, they will likely get blown out quite often and when they are blown out they will put position players on the mound more than almost any other team. Heck, they’ve done it three times already this year and the season is only three weeks old.
The latest Orioles position player to pitch was catcher Jesús Sucre, who took the mound in last night’s 12-2 loss to the White Sox. And he wasn’t half bad! He retired the side in order and needed only nine pitches to do so:
There once was a time when it was a novelty to see a position player pitching. It happens all the time now, partially because of blowouts, partially because teams have decided it’s better to get embarrassed a bit than to burn a bullpen arm in a game they’ve given up trying to win.
I suspect the Orioles will take the practice to a whole new level in 2019, though. For better or for worse.