A few weeks ago Astros manager Jeff Luhnow told reporters that Fernando Martinez’s chances to make the Astros could be negatively impacted by his participation in the World Baseball Classic. Many people tut-tutted that comment as being wrongheaded because the WBC is supposed to be wonderful and everything, but for his part, Martinez got the message:
“I’m not going to play,” he said. “I’m going to stay here and prepare for the season … I just thought about and I figured it would be a lost couple of weeks and I want to make the team here.”
Good call. The Astros, potentially anyway, are gonna put food on Martinez’s table. Playing for the glory of Spain isn’t gonna do a whole heck of a lot.
The Mariners announced that the club claimed Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Angels. Interestingly, the Mariners list Cowart as both an outfielder and a right-handed pitcher. Cowart has never pitched professionally, but the Mariners will try him as a two-way player next season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Cowart was a highly regarded pitcher in high school.
Cowart, 26, has played all over the field, spending most of his time at third base and second base, but also logging a handful of innings at first base, shortstop, and left field. He hasn’t hit much at all, owning a career .177/.241/.293 triple-slash line across 380 plate appearances in the big leagues. It makes sense to try another angle.
Shohei Ohtani, of course, is helping to popularize the rebirth of the two-way player. In his first year in the majors after having played in Japan for five years, Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances along with a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts. Don’t expect Cowart to hit those lofty numbers, but additional versatility could prolong his life in the majors.