31-year-old catcher Cody Clark was called up by the Astros on Friday and will make his major league debut 10 years after originally being drafted by the Rangers.
Clark is the replacement on the roster for Max Stassi, who suffered a concussion after he was hit in the face by a pitch on Wednesday.
Clark was originally a 48th-round pick by the Blue Jays out of high school. He opted to go to Wichita State rather than sign, and he was taken in the 11th round by Texas in 2003. The Rangers, though, weren’t impressed by his offense and released him in 2005. He spent the rest of that year playing Indy ball, joined the Braves’ low-A club in 2006 and then logged six years in the Royals system before joining the Astros on a minor league deal last winter.
Obviously, it took a few breaks to get him his chance now. Never much of a hitter, he’s really fallen off these last couple of years; he hit just .180/.246/.268 for Triple-A Omaha last year and he was at .217/.258/.273 in 158 Triple-A at-bats this season. There’s not really any chance of him playing any long-term role with the Astros, and it’s quite possible he won’t even last for the rest of the year. But after 11 seasons, he can finally say he’s made it. There probably won’t be anyone happier to be in a major league dugout tonight.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.