Mark Grace, who went from the Diamondbacks’ broadcast booth to a prison cell due to multiple drunk driving convictions has a job in baseball once again. The Hillsboro Hops of the single-A Northwest League have announced that Grace will be their hitting instructor for 2014.
The Hops are affiliated with the Diamondbacks, a team which did not abandon Grace when his problems with alcohol became incompatible with his job as a team broadcaster. They allowed him to work as an instructor during spring training, when he was getting work-release passes from jail. Their loyalty to Grace in this regard is admirable and, quite possibly, vital to his recovery and rehabilitation.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.