Cespedes on the Alburquerque kiss: “I am going to hit the ball hard against him and I am going to kiss my bat”

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As we mentioned yesterday, A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes hit a comebacker to end the top of the ninth in Game 2 of the ALDS. Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque fielded it and then kissed it before throwing him out at first.  After the game, Cespedes said how he planned to respond:

“We’re not finished yet,. When I get back to Oakland, I am going to hit the ball hard against him. And I am going to kiss my bat.”

That’s probably the best revenge for what, while not an international incident or anything, was pretty bush league, bro.*  But before that happens, Albuquerque himself may try to forge the peace. Bob Nightengale reports that the Tigers are going to try to set the young man straight:

“You cannot do that, that’s just not right,” Tigers MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera told USA TODAY Sports. “This game is about respect. We know he’s excited, but you have to respect the game.

“I will talk to him, and tell him that you cannot do that.”

Expect an apology of some sort before Game 3 gets underway tomorrow.

*Man, I really wish they’d make new avocado commercials. Is this season three of those “bush league, bro,” commercials or just two? Seems like a million. And don’t give me that “well, you remember them and that’s the point!” jazz.  I remember having my wisdom teeth pulled too. Doesn’t mean I want to do it again.

Shohei Ohtani agrees to $30 million deal for 2023 with Angels

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani agreed to a $30 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels for the 2023 season in the two-way superstar’s final year of arbitration eligibility before free agency.

The Angels announced the deal, avoiding a potentially complicated arbitration case with the 2021 AL MVP.

Ohtani’s deal is fully guaranteed, with no other provisions. The contract is the largest ever given to an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing the $27 million given to Mookie Betts by the Boston Red Sox in January 2020, a month before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ohtani is having another incredible season at the plate and on the mound for the Angels, regularly accomplishing feats that haven’t occurred in the major leagues since Babe Ruth’s heyday. He is a strong contender for the AL MVP award again alongside the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who has tied the AL home run record and is closing in on the batting Triple Crown.

Ohtani is batting .276 with 34 homers, 94 RBIs and a .888 OPS as the Halos’ designated hitter. He is 15-8 with a 2.35 ERA and 213 strikeouts as their ace on the mound, and opponents are batting only .207 against him.

The 28-year-old Ohtani still will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and his future could be tied to the immediate fortunes of the Angels, who will complete their seventh consecutive losing season next week. The Angels didn’t trade Ohtani at the deadline despite being out of the playoff race again, and Ohtani is wildly popular among the club’s fans.

Ohtani repeatedly has said winning will be an important factor in choosing his home beyond 2023, and Angels owner Arte Moreno is currently exploring a sale of the team.

Moreno’s leadership has been widely criticized during the Angels’ mostly miserable run of play since 2009, and a fresh start with deep-pocketed new owners could be the best chance to persuade Ohtani to stay with the franchise he joined in 2018 from Japan. Ohtani immediately won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and he rounded into unique form last season after recovering fully from Tommy John surgery.