Craig Counsell, Manny Pina, Hernan Perez, Lorenzo Cain
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Three position players have already pitched in 2018

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The 2018 season is only ten days old, and already we’ve seen three position players take the mound. Usually one of the more entertaining moments of any given baseball game, these appearances have run the gamut from cringeworthy (i.e. necessary due to gruesome injuries) to impressive.

Last week, Phillies center fielder Pedro Florimon became the first position player to try his hand at pitching in 2018. Only two days after Opening Day, he was called upon to cover the eighth inning of a particularly brutal 15-2 beatdown by the Braves. He debuted a rudimentary fastball-changeup combo against the heart of Atlanta’s order: inducing two consecutive fly outs, issuing a four-pitch walk to Nick Markakis and granting pinch-hitter Lane Adams his first home run of the year.

Brewers utility player Hernan Perez, on the other hand, wasn’t given nearly as long of a leash when he took the mound during Thursday’s 8-0 loss to the Cubs. Of course, the circumstances surrounding his first pitching opportunity were also considerably more alarming: Milwaukee closer Corey Knebel labored through two outs in the ninth inning before collapsing on the mound with a hamstring injury. The first Brewers’ position player to take the mound at Miller Park in eight years, Perez was given the reins for the final out of the inning and promptly deposed Tommy La Stella with a line out to left field.

On Saturday, Rays second baseman Daniel Robertson stepped up to deliver the most impressive non-pitcher pitching performance of the year. Down 10-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning, he replaced Sergio Romo to face the top third of the Red Sox’ lineup. Armed with a changeup that fluttered between 74-77 mph, he put Brock Holt away with a pop-up to second base and induced back-to-back line outs from Andrew Benintendi and Blake Swihart to end the inning.

Per MLB.com’s Bill Chastain, Robertson was just the eighth position player to ever pitch for the Rays.

Never stop pitching, position players. (Well, do stop pitching, but thanks for the laughs.)

Astros defend barring reporter from clubhouse

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As we wrote about this morning, last night the Houston Astros, at the request of Justin Verlander, barred Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech from the clubhouse during Verlander’s media availability following the Tigers-Astros game. After Verlander was done talking to the press in the scrum setting — and after a call was placed to Major League Baseball about the matter — Fenech was allowed in.

As we noted, this was done in violation of agreements to which Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros and the Baseball Writers Association of America are parties. The agreements are meant to ensure full access to BBWAA-accredited reporters as long as they have not violated the terms of their credentials.  In no case do the clubs — and certainly not the players — have the right to bar access to BBWAA-accredited reporters. Indeed, the whole point of the BBWAA is to ensure such access and to ensure that teams cannot bar them simply because they are unhappy with their coverage or what have you.

This morning Verlander tweeted, obliquely, about “unethical behavior” on the part of Fenech that led to his request to the Astros to bar him. As we noted at the time, such an allegation — however interesting it might be — is of no consequence to the admission or barring of a reporter. If Fenech has acted unethically it’s a matter between him and his employer and, potentially, between him and the BBWAA. At the very least, if Verlander has a specific concern, it would be incumbent upon him or the Astros to take the matter up with either the Free Press or the BBWAA.

In light of all of this, it’s hard to make a case for Verlander’s request and the Astros’ honoring it. A few moments ago, however, the Astros released as statement on the matter which, basically, says, “so what?”

Which is to say, the Astros have made a decades-long agreement between the BBWAA and MLB regarding reporter access optional, because a player does not like a reporter who is covering him.  Someone without the power to alter the BBWAA-MLB relationship has just done so unilaterally. And they have done so in such a way that any player, should they decide they don’t like a reporter, will now presumably rely on as precedent. And, it should be noted, in doing so they gave at least some tacit credence to Verlander’s thus far unsubstantiated and unspecified allegations of unethical behavior on the part of Fenech.

It’s your move, Major League Baseball and BBWAA. Whatcha gonna do about it?