Detective Sam Holbrook botches the call

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Sam Holbrook may have had the right idea, but it just didn’t do him any good.

In the first inning of Friday’s Blue Jays-Red Sox game, Edwin Encarnacion hit a grounder to third with Colby Rasmus on third base. Will Middlebrooks decided to throw home to try to retire Rasmus on the play, and though the throw was late, it looked like Kelly Shoppach successful blocked a sliding Rasmus from reaching the plate.

Holbrook, though, was positioned behind the play and had no way of telling whether Rasmus was able to swipe the plate with his hand. Screened off, Holbrook did the only thing he could think of; he went to check the dirt in front of the plate to see try to ascertain whether Rasmus touched home plate.

Here’s the video.

From the swipe mark in the clay, Holbrook decided that, yes, Rasmus touched home plate. Replay, though, made it pretty clear that what he really touched was Shoppach’s shin guard.

I don’t blame Holbrook here. Like pretty much every home plate umpire in every major league game, he’s in an awful position to try to make that call, and given his view, he made the best judgment he could. If only he or someone else could have gone to the cameras instead, it would have been case closed.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.