When the Athletics signed Hiroyuki Nakajima to a two-year, $6.5 million contract over the winter, the assumption was that he would open the season as the team’s starting shortstop. However, after a rough introduction to the majors, it’s increasingly likely that it’s not going to happen. In fact, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle hears that he could begin the season in the minor leagues.
The buzz in the clubhouse today was that the A’s are seriously considering having Hiro Nakajima open the season at Triple-A Sacramento.
The Japanese shortstop was out of the lineup today and isn’t in Tuesday’s’s tentative lineup, either. A’s management had been hoping Nakajima would feel comfortable with the transition to big-league baseball by now, but it hasn’t happened.
Nakajima is batting just .150 (6-for-40) with one double, one RBI and an 11/4 K/BB ratio during Cactus League play and is hitless over his last eight games. Shea hears that the Athletics want the 30-year-old “in a groove” before he plays his first regular season game in the major leagues and feel that Triple-A could provide him the opportunity to get comfortable. For what it’s worth, Nakajima homered in a minor league exhibition game on Saturday during which he also played some second base.
If Nakajima isn’t included on the A’s Opening Day roster, Jed Lowrie would likely start at shortstop. Scott Sizemore could get an opportunity to start at second base, though Eric Sogard and Adam Rosales could also be in the mix for playing time.
Danny Picard of Boston Metro reports that, during Game 1 of the ALCS on Saturday, a man claiming to be an Astros employee was removed by security. The man was in the media-credentialed area next to the Red Sox dugout but he did not have media credentials. He was, however, using a small camera and texting frequently. When the man was taken away from the area, an Astros staffer tried to intervene, saying he was authorized to be in the area. Security did not buy the story, so the man was not allowed to return to that area but was allowed to remain in the ballpark.
This wasn’t the first time security had been made aware of the man. Apparently the same man had been up to some shady business during the ALDS against the Indians as well, which means the Astros may have been cheating throughout the postseason.
Representatives from all three teams have thus far opted not to comment on the matter. MLB chief communciations officer Pat Courtney said in an email on Tuesday, “We are aware of the matter and it will be handled internally.”
Teams, especially nowadays, are paranoid in the postseason about sign-stealing, so they’re always doing their due diligence to make sure their signs are secure. Sign-stealing is part of the gamesmanship of baseball. Players and coaches are, obviously, allowed to use their eyes, ears, and mouths to communicate about opposing teams’ signs. They’re not allowed to use any kind of technology, including cameras and cell phones. If the allegations are substantiated, the Astros’ recent and upcoming accomplishments may be looked at with a raised eyebrow.