Josh Hamilton, on a minor league deal with the Rangers, left spring training in late February with a bum knee on which he had surgery. Turns out that, during rehab from that surgery, he injured it again. He was already supposed to be out for 2-3 months, and given the setback the Rangers have done the inevitable: the released him.
The latest setback would likely call for the fourth major procedure on his knee since the end of the 2015 season. He’s had many more knee surgeries in his career as it is. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. At this point you have to ask whether all of that cutting and scoping is going to impact not just his athletic career but his quality of life after baseball.
In light of that, this all but certainly ends Hamilton’s baseball career. An improbable career that, at one point, no one ever thought would get going due to is severe substance abuse issues as a minor leaguer in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays system. But after a late start with the Reds, Hamilton went on to be one of the best players in the game for a time, making five All-Star teams and winning the 2010 MVP Award with the Rangers. He signed a huge contract with the Angels before the 2013 season, but only managed one full season with them during which his production fell off sharply.
If this is the end for Hamilton, it was certainly an interesting playing career. Here’s hoping that whatever he does next brings him peace and joy.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.