Luke Hochevar plunks Mike Trout, gets ejected

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After the Angels’ Jered Weaver twice drilled Lorenzo Cain earlier in the game, the Royals apparently opted for a little retaliation Wednesday, with Luke Hochevar plunking Mike Trout on a 3-0 pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Hochevar, who had already given up eight runs and was just about done for the day regardless, was immediately tossed by Bob Davidson after hitting Trout in the arm. Trout remained in the contest afterwards.

It was kind of an odd way for Hochevar to go about it if he did intend to hit Trout. He missed with two inside — but not all that much inside — fastballs earlier in the at-bat, and he then threw a slider low and away for ball three. The fourth pitch was a fastball sent right in the direction of Trout’s hip and would have hit him there if he hadn’t lowered his arm and took it there instead.

A five- or six-game suspension for Hochevar could be a possibility, though in general, it’s the intentional plunkings in higher-profile games that tend to draw the penalties. In giving up eight runs — six earned — in three-plus innings, Hochevar saw his ERA climb to 5.26 today. Weaver was removed after allowing two runs in five innings.

Rob Manfred blames Bryce Harper for going unsigned

Bryce Harper
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Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.

No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.

Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:

Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.

Manfred didn’t stop there, however.

An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.

Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?