Video: Turner Field employee catches Yoenis Cespedes line drive grand slam with one bare hand

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Oftentimes when I’ve been at Phillies games (I live in Philly, for those of you who don’t know), when a fan is unable to catch a foul ball or a home run ball, other fans will boo and heckle that fan. It’s not a behavior unique to Philly, but it is part of the city’s blue collar character.

A typical game will see 20 or so foul balls enter the stands and only a marginal increase when home runs are counted. In stadiums that hold 30,000 fans on average, only a small percentage of fans get a chance to catch one. One can’t really practice it, either, unless one shows up early for batting practice and attempts to catch the occasional home run. So harping on fans who can’t catch foul balls is kind of pointless. It’s difficult. Few of fans are wearing gloves and few have had proficient training in catching baseballs.

I say all this because a Turner Field employee made catching a line drive Yoenis Cespedes grand slam — measured at about 110 MPH off the bat — look easy. He was holding a sign with one hand and caught the ball barehanded with his free hand. Mighty impressive. He was risking a broken hand or finger if he misjudged the ball.

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The slam, by the way, was the 30th home run of the season for Cespedes. After going 1-for-4 in Sunday afternoon’s 10-3 win over the Braves, he’s batting .293/.363/.568 with 78 RBI.

Phillies, RHP Taijuan Walker reportedly agree to 4-year deal

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – The active Philadelphia Phillies added Taijuan Walker to their rotation on Tuesday, agreeing to a $72 million, four-year contract with the right-hander.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the move to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

It was the second major free-agent score for the Phillies at the winter meetings after they reeled in shortstop Trea Turner on Monday with a $300 million, 11-year deal. Walker and Turner join a Phillies team that made it to the World Series this year before losing to the Houston Astros.

The 30-year-old Walker went 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts this season for the New York Mets, one of Philadelphia’s biggest NL East rivals. He slots into a rotation fronted by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

The Phillies recently lost pitcher Zach Eflin in free agency to Tampa Bay.

Asked about the market for Walker earlier in the day, agent Scott Boras said it was robust.

“As you can see in the marketplace, there’s a whole number of pitchers that are throwing 60 and 70 innings that have been pursued, probably with the exception of (Jacob) deGrom, at the lower end of threshold around $13-15 million a year because the demand for quality pitching is so great,” Boras said.

“So, Tai … is one of the younger ones, one of the more durable ones and we expect him to be pursued greatly as his market unfolds.”

Walker was selected by Seattle with the No. 43 pick in the 2010 amateur draft. He made his big league debut with the Mariners in 2013.

Walker signed with New York as a free agent in February 2021. He turned down a $7.5 million player option last month in favor of a $3 million buyout, making his deal worth $17 million over two seasons.

The 6-foot-4 Walker made the All-Star team for the first time in 2021, putting together a fast start before fading to a 7-11 record with a 4.47 ERA in 30 games, 29 starts.