Cubs’ Jed Hoyer: Wrigley Field must be place for women to thrive

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CHICAGO — The Cubs might conduct more thorough background checks when deciding hires in the wake of sexual harassment accusations against former director of pro scouting Jared Porter.

President of baseball operations Jed Hoyer called the alleged incidents disturbing and said there’s “no place for them in the game.”

“I think it’s my job to make sure that every woman that works here – every woman that is a reporter for our team, every vendor, everyone that comes through Wrigley Field – has to feel like this is a wonderful environment for them to work in and they have to look forward to being here,” Hoyer said Monday. “That has to be the standard. There can’t be any other standard. It has to be a great workplace for women, and a place that women can thrive.”

Porter was fired for cause last month as general manager of the New York Mets after 38 days on the job following a report by ESPN he sent sexually explicit, uninvited text messages and images to a female reporter in 2016 while he was working for Chicago. Hoyer said the Cubs’ investigation is ongoing and interviews were being conducted when he left last week for the team’s spring training facility in Mesa, Ariz.

Porter was with the Cubs from 2015 to 2016 before leaving to become the Arizona Diamondbacks’ assistant general manager. He previously worked for the Red Sox and a had a long history with Hoyer and former Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein from their time together in Boston and Chicago.

Hoyer said the Cubs might need to talk to more people about potential candidates and reach out to women who have worked with them.

“You have to be introspective,” Hoyer said. “You have to look within your organization and think about those things. This wasn’t something we were aware of. But it does make you look at the organization and look at those things.”

He cited the women the Cubs have hired in “really important positions” to their baseball operation in recent years and the strides in general they have made within the game. Kim Ng became the first general manager in major league history when the Miami Marlins hired her in November.

“There have been really great trends in the game over the last two or three years when you look at the number of women in on-field positions, the number of women in front-office roles, obviously sort of highlighted by Kim’s promotion,” Hoyer said. ‘I think these last two or three years have really been outstanding for women in baseball. Hopefully, that continues not just within the industry but also within our organization.”

Hoyer also touched on other subjects Monday. Joc Pederson likely takes over in left field for Kyle Schwarber, who was let go. Pederson gives the Cubs another powerful left-handed hitter with some limitations – like Schwarber. He hit .190 with seven homers and 16 RBIs last season for the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

“Their strengths are different,” Hoyer said. “I don’t want to say this in comparing the two. … Some of the things that Joc has really done well is cut his strikeout rate the last few years and he also hits the high fastball really well. That’s something we struggle with as a team.”

Hoyer said is optimistic about the lineup, where the Cubs hope for bounce-back seasons from stars Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo. But he is concerned about the pitching. Yu Darvish was traded to San Diego and Jon Lester signed with Washington.

Hoyer hopes to address that in the next week or two and said he has financial flexibility to add salary. Without getting too specific, he said several factors allowed the Cubs to move from the lower to the higher end of their payroll range.

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

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TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.