The Clemente family gives up the push to retire #21 across baseball … until Selig’s gone

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Roberto Clemente’s widow Vera Clemente and his sons Luis and Roberto Jr. were in Pittsburgh yesterday for a ceremony commemorating Clemente’s 3000th and final hit. Dejan Kovacevic spoke with the Clementes regarding a movement they’ve been trying to get rolling over the past several years: having Roberto Clemente’s number 21 retired throughout all of baseball.

Major League Baseball hasn’t been all too receptive, however, so the Clementes are gonna wait Bud out. Here’s Roberto Clemente, Jr.:

“It’s become pretty clear to us this commissioner doesn’t want anything to do with it, to be perfectly honest. That just means we’re going to have to wait until there’s a new commissioner. And we will.”

I dunno. Roberto Clemente Jr. is 47 years old. I figure Bud has another 50-60 years in him, so it may be the next generation’s fight.

Seriously, though, I’ve never been a fan of retiring Clemente’s number across baseball. He was a fantastic player and he died under heroic circumstances, but he was not a pioneer in the way Jackie Robinson was. Hiram Bithorn was the first major leaguer from Puerto Rico, and there were Latin American players from other countries before him as well.  In light of that, to give him the same honor Robinson received seems inappropriate.

Moreover, for reasons I’ve explained previously, I’m also not a fan of the alternative suggestion Vera Clemente has made in the past: giving each year’s Clemente Award winner the number 21 to wear throughout the year following him winning the award. It’s just too complicated, still necessitates retiring 21 — otherwise how does the honoree stand out? — and could lead to awkwardness if a player doesn’t want to change his number but feels obligated to do so lest he be seen as offending the memory of Roberto Clemente.

I get wanting to do something for a special person’s memory, but I don’t think baseball is in danger of either forgetting or dishonoring Roberto Clemente. Bud is right to let this one lie.

The Mets are strongarming Devin Mesoraco into retiring

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The Mets told catcher Devin Mesoraco on Saturday that he will not make the team, Mike Puma of the New York Post reported. Mesoraco, a major league veteran of eight seasons, said he won’t accept a reassignment to Triple-A. According to Matt Ehalt of Yahoo Sports, the Mets will place Mesoraco on the restricted list rather than release him. As a result, Mesoraco is expected to retire from baseball.

This is a bad look for the Mets. Most teams release the major league-caliber players they don’t plan to break camp with so they can pursue opportunities elsewhere. The Mets must really be hurting for catching depth.

Mesoraco, 30, was decent as the Mets’ back-up last season after coming over from the Reds in the Matt Harvey deal, batting .222/.306/.409 with 10 home runs and 30 RBI in 229 plate appearances. Mesoraco is a bit below-average defensively and spent much of the mid-2010’s on the disabled list dealing with hip and shoulder injuries.

On Monday afternoon, the Mets signed free agent catcher René Rivera, per SNY’s Andy Martino. Rivera was recently released by the Giants. He is less potent with the bat than Mesoraco, but a bit better defensively. Rivera will back up Wilson Ramos and Travis d'Arnaud will likely open the season on the injured list. Tomás Nido will be the third-string catcher behind Rivera.