Nick Hundley slams suspended teammate Yasmani Grandal

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We tend to praise those veterans who take youngsters under their wings. Especially when that youngster is gunning for the veteran’s own job.

Padres catcher Nick Hundley isn’t going that route, though. Maybe he would have under different circumstances. Say if the youngster replacing him wasn’t a big, ol’ cheater.

Asked Wednesday about the Padres’ catcher situation when Yasmani Grandal returns from his 50-game steroids suspension, Hundley told the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee:

“You want to talk about a guy who is unproven and had a good couple months on steroids, go ahead. I’ve got a job to do.”

Hundley has good reason to be frustrated. He was coming off a terrific .288/.347/.477 season in 2011 when the Padres picked up Grandal, a 2010 first-round pick, from the Reds in the Mat Latos deal that winter. Hundley went on to struggle mightily last year and lost his job to Grandal, only to see Grandal get the offseason steroid suspension. Grandal’s name subsequently was found in the Biogenesis documents.

If not for the suspension, the Padres would have tried to trade Hundley last winter, though it may have been tough considering his substantial contract and hideous .157/.219/.245 line in 204 at-bats last season. As is, he’s been the Padres’ regular catcher this year and hit a rock-solid .270/.302/.450 in 100 at-bats. Still just 29, he doesn’t deserved to be shoved back into a backup role, especially in favor of a cheater. That said, the Padres aren’t going anywhere this year and they still need to figure out whether Grandal is the real deal or not. It figures to lead to an awkward situation when Grandal comes back later this month.

Manoah, Merrifield lead Blue Jays to 3-1 win over Rays

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Alek Manoah pitched seven shutout innings, Whit Merrifield hit a three-run homer and the Toronto Blue Jays regained the top AL wild-card spot with a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.

The Blue Jays lead Tampa Bay by one game. The top wild card finisher will host all games in their best-of-three opening-round series, while the other two wild cards play strictly on the road.

Manoah (15-7) scattered four hits, walked two and struck out eight while throwing a season-high 113 pitches. The righty worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth by striking out Randy Arozarena and getting a flyout from David Peralta.

Jordan Romano replaced Tim Mayza with two on and two outs in the eighth and allowed pinch-hitter Harold Ramirez‘s RBI infield single but avoided further damage by striking out Manuel Margot. Romano finished the game to get his 35th save in 41 chances.

Tampa Bay starter Drew Rasmussen (10-7) gave up one run, three hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five.

The teams combined for 31 runs, with the Rays accounting for 20, in the first two games of the series that were both won by Tampa Bay.

Arozarena got the Rays’ first hit off Manoah with a two-out double in the fourth. He became the first Tampa Bay player and 20th big leaguer to have 40 doubles, 20 homers and 30 stolen bases in a season.

Teoscar Hernandez ended Rasmussen’s night with a double in the seventh. Brooks Raley entered and, after a walk to pinch-hitter Danny Jansen, Merrifield made it 3-0 on his 10th homer of the season.

Merrifield homered twice in Thursday night’s 10-5 loss to the Rays.

Alejandro Kirk opened the second with a single before Rasmussen retired 12 in a row until Merrifield’s leadoff double in the sixth.

Plate umpire Corey Blaser took a hard foul ball by Margot on the mask in the eighth but remained in the game.

HONORING KK

The Rays posted a thank you on the message board for CF Kevin Kiermaier, who is out for the season following left hip surgery. Kiermaier is in the final season of a $53.5 million, six-year contract that includes a club option for 2023 that is expected to be declined.

TEAM AWARDS

Rays ace Shane McClanahan was voted the Don Zimmer MVP award winner by members of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. CF Jose Siri was selected as the outstanding rookie. 3B Yandy Diaz received the Paul C. Smith Champions award as the player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson (lat strain) allowed three runs and three hits over two-thirds of an inning for Triple-A Buffalo.

Rays: 2B Brandon Lowe (lower back) is done for the season.

UP NEXT

McClanahan (12-6), pulled from his start Tuesday in the fifth inning due to neck tightness, will face Blue Jays RHP Ross Stripling (8-4) on Sunday.