Orioles backed out of deal with Grant Balfour due to concerns over his wrist and knee

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It was reported last month that the condition of Grant Balfour’s right shoulder was the reason behind the Orioles backing out of a two-year, $15 million contract, but it turns out that they had other health concerns in mind.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the “red flags” that came up were actually about Balfour’s wrist and knee. Rays team doctor Koco Eaton didn’t find anything wrong with Balfour’s shoulder after the deal with the Orioles blew up, so this at least adds some clarity to the situation.

While it’s unclear which knee was a concern to the Orioles, it’s worth noting that Balfour required right knee surgery last February. He went on to post a 2.59 ERA and 72/27 K/BB ratio over 62 2/3 innings while notching 38 saves in 41 chances.

As Balfour continues to look for an opportunity elsewhere, the Orioles appear content to move forward with in-house options at closer. Tommy Hunter is considered the favorite for the role.

Matt Carpenter hit a standup bunt double

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The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.

The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.

In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.

Most of the time anyway.

Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:

One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.

The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.