With White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu on the sideline dealing with a left ankle injury, Orioles outfielder Nelson Cruz used the opportunity to become baseball’s latest home run leader. Cruz belted his 16th homer of the season, a fifth inning solo shot off of Indians starter Trevor Bauer, breaking a tie with Abreu to move ahead.
Cruz has been very productive for the Orioles after hurriedly signing a one-year, $8 million deal with the club in late February. Along with the 16 homers, Cruz has 44 RBI which is the most in the American League and second only to Giancarlo Stanton’s 47. Cruz is also slashing .295/.361/.612.
If not for Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion, Cruz would be in the running for Player of the Month honors, now with nine home runs, 19 RBI, and a .305/.346/.642 slash line in the month of May.
Roger Clemens will be an analyst for ESPN when the defending World Series champion Houston Astros host the Chicago White Sox on opening day.
Clemens made four appearances on last year’s KayRod Cast with Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez. He will be stepping in on March 30 for David Cone, who will be doing the New York Yankees opener against the San Francisco Giants on YES Network.
“Roger has been sort of a friend of ours for the last year, so to speak, he’s in. He’s been engaged, knowledgeable and really present,” said ESPN Vice President of Production Phil Orlins. “You know, whatever past may be, he’s still tremendously engaged and he really brought that every time he was with us.”
Clemens was a seven-time Cy Young winner but his career after baseball has been tainted by allegations of performance-enhancing drug use. He is a Houston native and pitched for the Astros for three seasons.
Orlins said that with the rules changes and pitch clock, it is important to have a pitcher in the booth with Karl Ravech and Eduardo Perez.
“We don’t feel like we have to have the dynamic of Eduardo with a pitcher, but we certainly think that works. Throw in the added factor of rule changes and it is better to have a batter-pitcher perspective,” Orlins said.
Orlins did not say if this would open the door for future opportunities for Clemens as an ESPN analyst.