Marlins cut ties with veteran power-hitting 1B Jesús Aguilar

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

MIAMI — The Miami Marlins designated power-hitting Jesus Aguilar for assignment, moving past the first baseman after falling out of contention for a spot in the playoffs.

The 32-year-old Aguilar led the Marlins with his 15 home runs and 49 RBIs but he was hitting only .236.

With Miami losing 15 of 22 games in August and falling out of NL wild-card contention, Aguilar lost significant playing time to rookie Lewin Diaz. Garrett Cooper, who split time with Aguilar at first base and designated hitter, was activated from the injured list.

“It didn’t come as a surprise because Cooper and three guys can’t be here,” Aguilar said before the Marlins opened a four-game home series against the NL-West leading Los Angeles Dodgers. “I understand the move and I understand the business.”

Aguilar signed with the Marlins after the Tampa Bay Rays released him following the 2019 season. The native of Venezuela was one of only five Marlins players who avoided the injured list during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and helped Miami to its first playoff appearance since winning the World Series in 2003.

Last season, Aguilar had an NL-leading 93 RBIs before a knee injury sidelined him the final four weeks.

Aguilar said he hopes to find an opportunity with a contending team.

“We had talked to Jesus a bit ago about this and give him a chance to be on a playoff team,” Marlins general manager Kim Ng said. “He’s done a lot for this organization. These types of situations are never easy.”

Aguilar began his career in Cleveland but flourished after he joined the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017. He set career highs with 35 homers and 108 RBIs in 2018, when he was an All-Star.

Midway through the 2019 season, the Rays acquired Aguilar in a trade.

“I just want to say thank you for the opportunity of being a Marlin for a couple of years,” Aguilar said. “Hopefully, I can now go to one of the teams competing for a playoff spot.”

Aguilar has hit .255 with 108 homers in his 11-year career.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.