After a decade as an elite closer Joe Nathan was bad enough in his first season in Detroit that Tigers fans booed him of the mound at one point and he responded with a chin-flick gesture that later came with an apology.
Nathan is under contract for $10 million in 2015, but the Tigers have indicated that he’ll be on a much shorter leash in the closer role at age 40.
Nathan told Jason Beck of MLB.com that he understands the criticism and plans to bounce back in a big way this season:
I don’t want people thinking that I’m done. I think coming into not just the spring, but coming into the season, I want to prove to myself and other people I still have something left in the tank.
Part of Nathan’s struggles were due to elbow problems, so the six-time All-Star said he’s been focusing on improving his arm strength this offseason as well as getting more agile. And while it’s not quite Best Shape of His Life stuff, Nathan did say “I’ve gotten stronger than I’ve ever felt.”
We’ll see if it makes a difference in the battle against father time.
Michael Kopech has opted out of the 2020 season. The White Sox starter informed the team of his decision today, and the team issued a press release to that affect a few minutes ago.
The statement from general manager Rick Hahn. said “we recognize that reaching this decision is incredibly difficult for any competitive athlete, and our organization is understanding and supportive. We will work with Michael to assure his development continues throughout 2020, and we look forward to welcoming him back into our clubhouse for the 2021 season.”
Kopech, 24, has only four big league starts under his belt, all coming in late August and early September of 2018, but after a strong spring training he was likely to make Chicago’s rotation at some point in the 2020 season after sitting out all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery. Kopech was among the players sent to Chicago from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale trade back in December 2016. Others involved in the deal included Yoán Moncada, Victor Diaz, and Luis Alexander Basabe.
Now, however, Kopech has opted out.