Big League Stew
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew1 hr ago
Among the first drills new Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus worked on with his club in February was a rarely attempted pickoff move to third base.
It's rarely attempted for several reasons, most of which are fairly obvious. For starters, it's simply not a natural movement for pitchers as they rarely, if ever, practice making pickoff throws to third base. The throw, in and of itself, is unnatural and awkward, because they're forced to hit a moving target at the bag. For the third baseman, it's not a comfortable play either. They have enough to process with a runner at third just in terms of relaying signals and looking for a potential bunt. Now, they also have to think about covering the bag and being in position to receive the throw.
Honestly, it felt like a disaster waiting to happen when Ausmus introduced the drill, and on Friday night a perfect example of just how disastrous it can be played out when a little bit of miscommunication led to a game-ending balk in Detroit's 3-2 loss to the New York Yankees.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew3 hrs ago
The Kansas City Royals worst fears were realized on Friday when it was determined 30-year-old reliever Luke Hochevar will require Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
Hochevar was originally diagnosed with a sprained ulnar-collateral ligament (UCL) on Wednesday. The Royals held some hope that he would be able to recover through rest and rehab and return to the mound by May. Unfortunately, that won't be the case. Hochevar's 2014 season is over, but there's a positive outlook for guys in his position thanks to Dr. Frank Jobe, who pioneered Tommy John surgery back in 1974.
Jobe died on Thursday at age 88, but his legacy lives on through an operation that has already saved and extended the careers of hundreds of pitchers, and will continue doing so for generations to come.
Spring Headlines: Free agent Ervin Santana now seeking one-year deal; Oliver Perez signs for two years with DiamondbacksMark Townsend at Big League Stew3 hrs ago
Baseball is back. As we get closer to the regular season, be sure to stop by The Stew each morning for your get your daily helping of spring storylines.
As opening day draws closer, free agent right-hander Ervin Santana is reportedly lowering his demands in hopes of signing with a new team at the soonest possible time.
Santana originally sought a five-year deal worth at least $100 million when free agency opened in November. According to Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal the 31-year-old right-hander is now willing to settle for a one-year deal, with the only caveat being his preference to join a strong offensive team.
Signing Santana will also cost a team their highest unprotected draft pick after he turned the Kansas City Royals $14.1 million qualifying offer. Rosenthal mentions the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays as possible fits based on their offensive output last season, previous interest in Santana during the offseason and unique flexibility with their draft picks.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew10 hrs ago
While top free agents like Ervin Santana and Stephen Drew have struggled to find new homes during the offseason, Hank the Dog has had no such trouble. After walking into Milwaukee Brewers camp as a stray two weeks ago and winning the hearts of the organization and its loyal fanbase, Hank has already found a permanent home according to Brewers vice president for communications Tyler Barnes.
The Brewers are not saying with whom Hank will now be residing, but enthusiastically noted "his days as a stray are over."
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew10 hrs ago
Despite Major League Baseball's best efforts to dissuade and discourage players from using smokeless tobacco, it remains a difficult habit for many players to kick. In fact, the problem remained prominent enough in 2011 that U.S. senators and health officials urged MLB to ban smokeless tobacco to protect current players and future players who may pick up the habit while watching their heroes in action.
Though the league was unable to get a full ban on tobacco, teams are now prohibited from providing tobacco product to players as a part of the latest collective bargaining agreement with the Players Association. A good step, but it appears not much, or at least not enough, has changed in terms of usage.
- Big League Stew11 hrs ago
The wall is not your enemy, Brad Penny.
Penny reportedly punched a wall and injured his non-throwing hand after having what was described as a "dismal" outing Thursday for the Kansas City Royals in Cactus League play. The club released Penny, a right-hander who has not pitched in the majors since 2012, on Friday.
Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reported that "a person with knowledge of the situation" said that Penny hurt himself in anger after allowing four runs in two innings against the White Sox. That could do it! Have you seen their lineup? Anyway.
Penny made a denial via Twitter to reporter Jerry Crasnick of ESPN:
- Big League Stew14 hrs ago
The New York Daily News and other outlets report that Carmen Berra, the wife of New York Yankees' Hall of Famer Yogi Berra for the past 65 years, has died from complications after a stroke. She was 85. Together the Berras raised three sons (including Dale Berra, who also played in the majors) and they have 11 grandchildren. Yogi turns 89 on May 12.
The story indicates that Yogi, who also frequents spring training as an instructor for his old team, was able to spend some time with Carmen on Thursday before she died. It's hard to imagine losing someone you've known, and to whom you've been so close, for all of that time. The official Yankees statement, shortly but sweetly given by Hal Steinbrenner, reflects that conundrum.
- Big League Stew15 hrs ago
Photobombing and videobombing are trendy, but the actions almost always will be funny. At some point, maybe during a somber interview about a dead person, it won't be appropriate. But during a baseball interview, sometimes it's necessary to move the action along. Nothing against San Diego Padres slugger Seth Smith, but whatever he must have been discussing could not have been as interesting as what teammate Yasmani Grandal did behind him.
With Smith caught completely unaware, Grandal walked up behind him and took a round of imaginary batting practice. After taking a swing, Grandal dropped to a knee and, like he was shooting skeet, aimed and fired and invisible shell at the non-existant baseball. He then turned and dropped his ghost bat and walked away. Like he sleepwalked the entire thing.
Watching it on Deadspin (unless Smith collects Yahoo mail!) is probably the first time he even realized what happened. Yes, the Padres might be a surprise team to watch in 2014.
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- Big League Stew16 hrs ago
The Miami Marlins aren't the first club to grumble about an opponent sending a lineup of reserve players to a road game in the Grapefruit League. There's a rule — it might just be an "understanding" — that any spring lineup for a game that counts in the standings should have at least four major league players in it and they need to play at least three full innings. So the fans, who pay the money for tickets, actually get to see some major leaguers in preseason action. And so the home team, which might have nine or 10 major leaguers in its lineup, plus more in reserve, can practice against like talent.
Sometimes the visiting team abides by this policy, and sometimes it doesn't. And it's not often you see an apology from a team for sending players with low "Q" ratings — but the Boston Red Sox did, after the Marlins let everyone know how unhappy they were with the quality of their opponent Thursday.
- Big League Stew20 hrs ago
Former major league pitcher Tommy John, for whom the career-saving elbow surgery was named in 1974, wrote a short message explaining what Dr. Frank Jobe meant to him and he put it on his website Friday morning. Jobe died Thursday at 88 years old. He recently had been hospitalized with an undisclosed illness.
Here's a link to the short film ESPN produced on the relationship between John and Jobe.