Buck Showalter on John Lackey: “he might want to be careful”

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On Saturday night, after getting rocked by the Orioles in general and Nelson Cruz in particular, Red Sox starter John Lackey threw some shade Cruz’s way, suggesting that people shouldn’t let Cruz off the hook given that he was suspended for PED use last season.

Yesterday morning Orioles manager Buck Showalter responded, saying “everybody needs to make sure that their own backyard is clean” before slamming anyone else about PEDs. He added:

“There’s so many insinuations, quite frankly, about people in every club. You usually don’t hear those comments after a shutout or something . . . Considering the timing of things, it’s one of those things that you keep quiet about it and it reflects poorly upon the person who said it . . . He might want to be careful.”

So many ways to go with that. Let’s go a few ways:

  • One could take that broadly and interpret it as Showalter saying “hey, you never know who is using and maybe someone on the Red Sox is, so don’t throw that stuff around.”
  • One could take that specifically and have it as Showalter reminding Lackey that, once upon a time, David Ortiz was accused of PED use.
  • One could also look specifically at Nelson Cruz and be reminded that, last winter, the Red Sox were considering signing him and Ortiz himself personally reached out to Cruz in an effort to try to get him to come to Boston. Query: Does Lackey have an ethical problem if Cruz is hitting 27 homers and driving in 70 before the break if he’s wearing a Red Sox uniform? Kinda doubt it!
  • One could also remember that, three years ago, Lackey was involved in a brawl/plunking war with the Orioles and, at the time, Showalter called for Lackey to be suspended which suggests that Showalter doesn’t have much patience for that guy to begin with.

A friend of mine — actually, a friend of mine’s father — likes to say that “everything in life has a long tail.” I tend to agree with that. And if you’re the sort of person who likes to make moral and ethical judgments about folks, it’s helpful to remember the context in which you do it and examine whether or not you’re being a wee bit inconsistent in your application of such judgments.

Reds having Michael Lorenzen prepare as a two-way player

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For decades, a legitimate “two-way player” — a player who functions as both a pitcher and as a position player — was nothing but a fantasy. The skill sets required for both are too distinct and require too much prep work, it was thought. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani shattered that illusion in 2018, posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances as a hitter while posting a 3.31 ERA in 51 2/3 innings as a pitcher.

Since then, several more players have been considered in two-way roles. The Rangers signed Matt Davidson earlier this month and could potentially use him as a corner infielder as well as a reliever. Also earlier this month, James Loney signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters, who plan to use him as both a first baseman and as a pitcher.

You can add Michael Lorenzen of the Reds to that list. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that the Reds will have Lorenzen prepare this spring as a two-way player. He could both start and relieve while occasionally playing in the outfield. Lorenzen, in fact, took batting practice with the outfielders on Thursday. Previously, he had taken batting practice as extra work following a workout with fellow pitchers.

Lorenzen said, “It’s fantastic, the effort they’re putting in. A lot of the excuses were, ‘You know, we don’t want to overwork him.’ Well, let’s just sit down and talk about it then. They were willing to sit down and talk about it, which is one of the reasons why I love this staff so much and why I think the front office did a great job [hiring] this staff. They’re willing to find solutions for problems.”

New manager David Bell said, “We’ve put together a plan for the whole spring, knowing we can adjust it at any time. We didn’t want to go into each day not knowing what he’s going to do. We all felt better, he did, too. He was part of putting it together.”

Lorenzen, 27, pitched 81 innings last year with a 3.11 ERA and a 54/34 K/BB ratio. He’s one of baseball’s best-hitting pitchers as well. Last year, he swatted four homers and knocked in 10 runs in 34 trips to the plate. The last pitcher to hit at least four homers in a season was the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, who did it in both 2014 (four) and 2015 (five). Lorenzen also posted a 1.043 OPS. According to Baseball Reference, there have been only 11 pitchers to OPS over 1.000 (min. 30 PA). The only ones to do it in the 2000’s are Lorenzen last year, Micah Owings in 2007 (1.033) and Dontrelle Willis in 2011 (1.032).