Stephen Piscotty’s mother passes away

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You may remember that, back in December, the Cardinals dealt outfielder Stephen Piscotty to the Oakland Athletics. On the surface that deal was unremarkable. The Cards had acquired Marcell Ozuna, Piscotty was the odd man out and Oakland was willing to take him. There was far more to that deal, however.

The Cards traded Piscotty to Oakland, as opposed to some other team, so that he could be near his mother Gretchen, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease about a year ago. Piscotty and his family are from Pleasanton, California, about 35 miles from Oakland.

In the weeks after the trade there were several stories in the San Francisco Chronicle and other papers which cover the A’s following Piscotty’s return home. He traveled with his mother to various places and the Piscotty family all seemed to take joy in their son being so close at such a time. “It’s important to spend time with her because we’re running out of it, and we’re just trying to cherish every moment,” Piscotty told ESPN a few months back. “With or without the illness, I’m very grateful they’re all close by,” Gretchen Piscotty told the San Francisco Chronicle in January, talking about Stephen and her other two sons. “I wish this wasn’t impacting them, impacting the family, but I’m very grateful to see them.”

Sadly, Gretchen Piscotty passed away last night. She was 55. Billy Beane, the A’s executive vice president of baseball operations, released the following statement:

“The Athletics organization extends its deepest condolences to the Piscotty family on the loss of Gretchen. She was a devoted wife and mother, whose legacy will live on through her husband, Mike, and their sons Stephen, Austin and Nick.”

Rest in peace.

Ron Roenicke fired by Red Sox after one season

Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports
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BOSTON — Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke will not return in 2021, the team said before its final game on Sunday, ending his tenure as a one-year, shotgun stopgap for a pandemic-shortened season with a last-place finish in the AL East.

Hired on the eve of spring training after Alex Cora was caught cheating during his time in Houston, Roenicke took over a roster that would soon shed 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts and 2012 AL Cy Young winner David Price, who were traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ace Chris Sale (Tommy John surgery) and Eduardo Rodriguez (COVID-19) never threw a pitch for the team this year.

Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom also commended Roenicke for navigating the coronavirus shutdown and for holding the team together when racial protests interrupted the season.

“He did a tremendous job under really challenging and basically unprecedented circumstances,” said Bloom, who met with Roenicke in Atlanta on Sunday morning to give him the news.

“As you would expect, he handled it really well. Probably better than I did,” Bloom said on a Zoom call. “I think he is just an incredible human being.”

Sure to get attention as a possible successor: Cora, who led the Red Sox to a World Series championship in 2018, his first season as a major league manager. The team split with him less than a month before spring training after he was identified as the ringleader in the Houston sign-stealing scandal; Cora’s one-year suspension for that scandal ends after the World Series.

With Cora gone, the Red Sox promoted Roenicke from bench coach to interim manager. They removed the temporary tag in April, during the coronavirus shutdown, when Roenicke was cleared in the commissioner’s investigation into sign-stealing by the Red Sox during their championship season.

He was not given an extension on the one year he had remaining on the contract he had signed as a bench coach — fueling speculation that Cora could be welcomed back after serving his penalty.

The Red Sox dismissed such suggestions dismissed such suggestions at the time, but on Sunday Bloom refused to rule a return either in or out.

“I thought Ron deserved to be evaluated without anyone looking over his shoulder,” Bloom said, declining to comment further because “I don’t want to say anything about Alex that I haven’t said to Alex.”

Roenicke, 64, spent five years as the Brewers manager from 2010-15, winning 96 games and the NL Central title in his first season and finishing as runner-up for NL manager of the year. In all, he led Milwaukee to a 342-331 record in five seasons.

He was 23-36 with the Red Sox entering Sunday’s games. Bloom said he wanted to break the news to Roenicke before the end of the season.

“If Ron wanted the chance to look his players in the eye before we part ways … I didn’t want to take that from him,” Bloom said.

An infielder on Boston’s 2007 champions, Cora was mentioned 11 times in Commissioner Rob Manfred’s decision on the Astros, which said Cora developed the cheating system. Cora left Houston to become Boston’s manager after the 2017 season and led the Red Sox to a franchise-record 108 regular-season wins and the World Series title.

But fallout from the Astros investigation caused Cora and newly hired New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran to lose their jobs.