Scary news out of the Cactus League today, as Rockies reliever Rafael Betancourt was hit in the face by a comebacker during a game against the Royals.
Betancourt was able to walk off the field under his own power and Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports that he suffered a contusion on the right side of his jaw. He’s displaying no concussion symptoms, which is great news.
Betancourt, who turns 40 in April, had Tommy John surgery in August of 2013 and only pitched in the minors last season while rehabbing. He’s hoping to make the Rockies’ bullpen as a non-roster invitee this spring.
UPDATE: Betancourt told Thomas Harding of MLB.com that it’s not a big deal and that he even ate after the game. While he’s not sure how he’ll feel tomorrow, he compared the pain to having a dental procedure done. He managed to get his glove up enough to partially deflect the ball before it hit him, so it sounds like it could have been a lot worse. Good news.
The first truly big free agent signing of the offseason has gone down: the Chicago White Sox just announced that they have signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal.
Grandal, 31, was the best catcher available in free agency. He is coming off a fine year with the Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he had to settle for a one-year pact in 2019. He hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers and 77 driven in. It was his fourth straight season with 20+ homers. While his catching has been criticized due to some high-profile mistakes in the postseason, the two-time All-Star once again proved himself to be one of the best pitch-framers in the game if not the best. Between the bat and the glove he has a claim to being one of the best all-around catchers in baseball.
The signing leaves open the question of what happens to James McCann, who was himself an All-Star this year. It’s not that hard a question, of course, as Grandal is a far superior catcher to McCann in every respect. The Sox could make McCann a backup. Alternatively, they could try to trade him to fill other holes on the roster.
The White Sox finished 72-89 in 2019 but are showing signs of coming out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. This signing pushes them a big step into that direction.