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.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.
Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.
When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.
The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.