A.J. Hinch denies report of involvement in hotel bar altercation

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Update #2 (7:03 PM ET): Hinch denies the report from TMZ.

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Update (6:11 PM ET): Joel Sherman of the New York Post adds some additional information:

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TMZ Sports is reporting that Astros manager A.J. Hinch was involved in a heated bar altercation following his team’s loss to the Dodgers in Game 1 of the World Series.

As TMZ tells it, Hinch was at the bar in his Pasadena hotel on Tuesday night having some drinks. Some patrons came in and started criticizing the Astros, which caused Hinch to snap. He allegedly yelled and cursed at the fans. According to a witness, the incident turned physical and the cops had to be called to intervene.

TMZ spoke to the Pasadena Police Department, who said they responded at 10:30 PM to help hotel security “keep the peace.” They described the incident as involving “team management” of the Houston Astros. No arrests were made and no report was taken. Hinch can still face punishment from Major League Baseball or the Astros, though, but we’ll have to wait and see about that.

If the report is true, this isn’t a good look for Hinch. Thus far, he’s had a squeaky clean image as a manager.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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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.