After the awful week Boston has had, you couldn’t have asked for a better way to get back on track. Neil Diamond showed up at Fenway Park today unannounced, just in time for the start of the Royals-Red Sox game.
MLB.com’s Jason Mastrodonato reports:
Neil Diamond called the switchboard at Fenway Park at about 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday afternoon.
“Hey, I’m here,” he said, according to Red Sox officials. “Can I come sing?”
“Sweet Caroline” has been played at ballparks throughout the nation in support of Boston after the reign of terror that locked down the city for five days and it was finally played at the ballpark that adopted the song in 2002. Diamond performed the song after the top of the eighth inning. Fittingly, the Sox scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth to take a 4-2 lead, and held on to win 4-3.
Watch Diamond’s performance:
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.