Info, fun, and salient bits from the last few days of baseballing …
- The Tigers’ shortstop issues are back in the fore after they let Alex Gonzalez go. Christina Kahrl wonders what they’re going to do the rest of the way, and spends a healthy portion of her piece discussing the possibility of Darwin Barney.
- Bryce Harper was recently benched for failing to run out a grounder (after missing time with a quad injury, mind you) by his manager, Matt Williams, who very publicly wrist-slapped his young star for a lack of hustle. That’s a silly story in its own right, but one Nationals writer has implied that Harper missed time with his quad injury so that he could actually miss facing Jose Fernandez with a nine-game hitting streak on the line (Hardball Talk). It’s a pretty incendiary accusation, but nothing likely comes of it. Just another interesting wrinkle to the Bryce Harper story. I find him fun to follow, for all kinds of reasons.
- Another Around the League, and another torn UCL. This one belongs to Yankees starter Ivan Nova, whose ulnar collateral ligament is only partially torn, and there’s no official word on what’s next. Tommy John pretty much always follows a tear of the UCL, so the Yankees may be down another starter.
- Speaking of being down a starter, Chris Sale hit the DL with a strained flexor muscle strain, which is right down there in the forearm/elbow area, but an MRI showed no ligament damage. Everyone’s always waiting for the other shoe to drop because of Sale’s unique delivery (and what appears to be extremely high arm stress), but he’s dealt successfully with these kind of minor arm issues in the past.
- I assume you’ve seen the Carlos Gomez/Gerrit Cole bench-clearing brawl incident, kicked off by Gomez doing what Gomez does (enjoying his hit) and Cole perhaps suggesting that Gomez shouldn’t have done that. I don’t approve of Gomez turning a verbal altercation into a physical one, and I also think he was a dope for pimping a triple that would have been an easy inside-the-park home run if he’d run out of the box, but I also think we gotta tone down the anti-celebration rhetoric. Guys can have a little fun out there.
- Grant Brisbee spotlights and discusses the worst swing of the year so far (which, given the hit-and-run context, might also be one of the best):
- Eno Sarris writes a fantastic piece on the aging curve of various pitcher skills. Much like we’re seeing with various hitting skills, in today’s environment, there are no longer those late-20s peaks – only gradual, and then pronounced, declines.
- Astros manager Bo Porter was pretty pissed off when Jed Lowrie bunted against them with a seven-run lead in the first inning to beat the shift (bunting to be the shift discussion involving Anthony Rizzo earlier today). But, as Lowrie points out, it’s pretty insane to, on the one hand, believe the game is close enough that it’s worth shifting on a guy, but then throw at him because he dared to try and bunt to beat that very shift.
- Astros prospect Delino DeShields, Jr. was hit in the face by a pitch, which caused a fair bit of damage, though he’s staying positive about it. Ever wonder what a fastball to the face does? Well, suffice it to say: he doesn’t have the ball tucked inside his cheek, despite appearances to the contrary.
- I just … it’s … it’s so beautiful and glorious. Please keep playing, and please stay in the National League, Bartolo Colon:
This might be the greatest photo ever taken… Bartolo Colon "hitting" (Adam Hunger, USA TODAY Sports) | pic.twitter.com/brD6YdG5DQ
— Andrew Vazzano (@AVSNY) April 20, 2014