Josh Hamilton faced Barry Zito in his first minor league rehab game

9 Comments

A battle between an MVP and a Cy Young Award winner is always fun. Even when it’s in Nashville, years after either of them were of elite quality. That was the case with Josh Hamilton’s return to action in his first rehab game yesterday, where he faced Barry Zito:

Recovering from shoulder surgery, the 2010 American League MVP went 1-for-3 against the 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner as Round Rock was blanked, 7-0, by Nashville at First Tennessee Park.

Hamilton singled in his first at-bat, then struck out in the third and fifth innings, getting fooled by Zito (1-3), who was topping out at 85 mph.

Good to see Hamilton coming back. But on some level it’s even better to see Zito chugging along.

When Zito announced his comeback in the offseason, it seemed inevitable that it would be followed up with a retirement announcement if and when he didn’t make the A’s roster. Which would’ve been fine. Zito doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. He had a nice career and has a beautiful wife, some gorgeous real estate and one of those Scrooge McDuck vault/swimming pools full of gold waiting for him back in California. If he hung it up, no one could say boo to him. At least he tried and went out on his terms.

Yet, even though he didn’t make the A’s, he accepted a minor league assignment most guys in his place wouldn’t have accepted. Here he is, in Nashville, Tennessee on a humid and crappy 90 degree day, pitching against one legit big leaguer and a bunch of kids. The A’s may not call him up ever, even if he pitches well because sometimes politics and things enter into those decisions. You figure he’s getting some heckling when he’s on the road too, because minor league crowds love to give it to former All-Stars. It can’t be a particularly glamorous existence.

But he’s pitching. Playing baseball, presumably, because he loves to play baseball and realized he missed it when he sat out last year. There’s something really damn admirable about that.

Marlins give Don Mattingly two-year extension

Getty Images
4 Comments

The Marlins have announced that they have inked manager Don Mattingly to a two-year contract extensions. There’s a third year in the form of a mutual option.

Mattingly is finishing up the final year of the four-year contract he signed with the Marlins prior to the 2016 season. He’s 272-364 in that period and the club has lost 99 games already this season. The current bad run, however, obviously corresponds with a massive rebuild the team began undertaking following the 2017 season and the team’s change in ownership. Mattingly has not had much to work with over the past two seasons but he has likewise, largely, kept the team on as even a keel as one could hope under the circumstances. He has certainly impressed the Marlins’ brass enough to take the unusual step of keeping on a manager they inherited from a previous ownership and front office group.

In other news, the Marlins also announced a two-year contract extension for shortstop Miguel Rojas valued at $10.25 million. There’s a vesting option for a third year. The deal buys out Rojas’ final year of arbitration eligibility and one year of free agency, plus that option.

Rojas, 30, is hitting .285/.335/.383 (OPS+ 92) this year.