The weekend preceding the All-Star Game festivities is always fun because the list of actual All-Stars expands by about ten players as injured players step down and would-be snubs finally get their call. Today, American League Sunday starters Bartolo Colon of the Athletics, Hisashi Iwakuma of the Mariners, and Justin Verlander of the Tigers were declared inactive for the All-Star Game. Replacing them are Athletics reliever Grant Balfour, Royals reliever Greg Holland, and Orioles starter Chris Tillman.
On the National League side of things, Braves first baseman and NL Final Vote winner Freddie Freeman, Pirates starter Jeff Locke, and Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann were declared inactive. Their replacements include Braves catcher Brian McCann, Pirates reliever Mark Melancon, and Giants reliever Sergio Romo.
NL All-Stars Adam Wainwright and Travis Wood start against each other tonight, so both will need to be replaced by manager Bruce Bochy as well.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.