Arizona announced a pair of coaching hires, adding Turner Ward as assistant hitting coach and Steve Sax as first base coach.
Don Baylor is the Diamondbacks’ primary hitting coach, but they’re joining the rapidly expanding list of teams with two people devoted to the job. Ward previously managed at Double-A in Arizona’s farm system.
Sax has never coached professionally before, but during his 14-year career the five-time All-Star second baseman was teammates with Kirk Gibson on the Dodgers. Steve Gilbert of MLB.com notes that Sax “worked in finance and made some television appearances” along with authoring a motivational book. He’ll replace Eric Young and as part of the job Sax will coach the Diamondbacks on baserunning.
General manager Kevin Towers told Gilbert that Sax was chosen over Triple-A manager Brett Butler, calling it “a tough decision, a hard decision.”
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.