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Punches were thrown during a benches-clearing brawl between the Blue Jays and Rangers

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The Blue Jays and Rangers are not the best of friends. Jose Bautista sent the Jays into the ALCS last year with a three-run home run and famously flipped his bat, something that would become the subject of many discussions in the ensuing months.

The two clubs met for the first time since the ALDS for a four-game set in Toronto on May 2. There was some speculation that the Rangers might try to exact revenge on Bautista, but the series was completed without incident.

This weekend’s three-game set in Texas between the two games almost finished without incident. The Jays won the first game on Friday 5-0, and the Rangers used a Drew Stubbs walk-off home run on Saturday to win 6-5.

Rangers reliever Matt Bush came in as relief in the seventh inning, allowing an inherited runner to score to push the Jays’ lead to 6-3. He came back out to start the eighth inning, facing Bautista. His first pitch was a 96 MPH fastball that hit Bautista and was, without question, done with intent. Bautista wasn’t happy about it. Both teams were issued a warning. Bautista was discussing the incident with first base umpire Dale Scott.

After Edwin Encarnacion flied out and Jake Diekman came in to relieve Bush, Justin Smoak hit a ground ball to third baseman Adrian Beltre. Beltre threw the ball to second baseman Rougned Odor who whipped around to first to complete the double play. Bautista slid late into Odor, also obviously done with intent to harm. Odor wasn’t happy about it and threw punches at Bautista, one of which landed flush. The benches quickly emptied.

Jesse Chavez, who had entered in the bottom of the seventh and allowed a three-run home run and a single before getting the final out of the frame, started the bottom of the eighth. He threw a first-pitch fastball that hit Prince Fielder. Chavez was immediately ejected and the benches emptied again. Things calmed down quicker than before, but it was still a messy affair.

There were so many ejections…

  • Blue Jays: first base coach Tim Leiper (ejected in the third inning), manager John Gibbons, pitcher Jesse Chavez, right fielder Bautista, third baseman Josh Donaldson, bench coach DeMarlo Hale
  • Rangers: second baseman Odor, bench coach Steve Buechele

Odor is likely looking at a lengthy suspension and a fine. Bush, Bautista, and Chavez at the very least are also likely looking at suspensions and fines. What a messy situation.

The two teams don’t play each other again for the rest of the regular season.

Casey Kelly signs with the LG Twins in Korea

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We wrote a lot about Casey Kelly on this site circa 2010-12.

It was understandable. Kelly was a big-time draftee for the Red Sox and famously split time as a shortstop and a pitcher in the minors, with some people even wondering if he could do it full time. The Sox put the kibosh on that pretty quickly, as he became the top overall prospect in the Boston organization as a pitcher. He then made news when he was sent to San Diego — along with Anthony Rizzo — in the famous Adrian Gonzalez trade in December 2010.

He made his big league debut for the Padres in late August of 2012, holding a pretty darn good Atlanta Braves team scoreless for six innings, striking out four.  He would pitch in five more games in the season’s final month to not very good results but missed all of 2013 and most of 2014 thanks to Tommy John surgery.

He wouldn’t make it back to the bigs until 2015 — pitching only three games after being converted to a reliever — before the Padres cut him loose, trading him to the Braves for Christian Bethancourt who, like a younger Kelly, the Padres thought could be a two-way player, catching and relieving. That didn’t work for him either, but I digress.

Kelly made a career-high ten appearances for a bad Braves team in 2016, was let go following the season and was out of the majors again in 2017 after the Cubs released him a couple of months after he failed to make the team out of spring training. He resurfaced with the Giants this past season for seven appearances. The Giants cut him loose last month.

Now Kelly’s journey takes him across the ocean. He announced on Instagram last night that he’s signed with the LG Twins in the Korean Baseball Organization. He seems pretty happy and eager about it in his little video there. I don’t blame him, as he’ll make $1 million for them, as opposed to staying here and almost certainly winding up in a Triple-A rotation making $60K or whatever it is veteran minor leaguers make.

This was probably way too many words to devote to a journeyman heading to play in Korea, but we so often forget top prospects once they fail to meet expectations. We also tend to forget all of the Tommy John casualties, focusing instead on the Tommy John successes. As such, I wanted to think a bit about Casey Kelly. I hope things work out well for him in the KBO and a baseball player who once seemed so promising can, after a delay, find success of his own.