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Monday, June 26, 2017

Baseball

David Ortiz throws terrible ceremonial first pitch (Video)

The Red Sox celebrated the storied career of David Ortiz on Friday night, and the former first baseman and designated hitter had his number retired and threw out the first pitch before the team’s game against the Los Angeles Angels. He also spoke to the fans for nearly ten minutes, receiving a warm welcome.

Perhaps all the years not playing in the field affected Ortiz’s throwing arm, because his first pitch was quite ugly.

Ortiz shook off the bad performance with a laugh. He can continue to smile knowing his number looks good sitting above Fenway Park.

Ortiz was well deserving of the honor, having made 10 All-Star games and winning three World Series championships as a member of the Red Sox.

Shane McNichol covers college basketball and the NBA for Larry Brown Sports. He also blogs about basketball at Palestra Back and has contributed to Rush The Court, ESPN.com, and USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.

Report: Mets willing to trade Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson

Terry Collins Mets

Having fallen well out of the playoff picture, the New York Mets appear willing to turn over much of their roster for young talent.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Mets are now willing to hear offers for a variety of veterans in their clubhouse. Olney goes as far to call New York “open for business”.

Having lost seven of their last eight, the Mets may have recently changed their mind about buying or selling midseason. Olney now reports that Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Addison Reed, Asdrubal Cabrera, and others are all available for the right price.

Currently 31-41 on the season, the Mets sit in fourth place in the NL East. They trail the division-leading Nationals by 12 games and are a whopping 14.5 games behind the Colorado Rockies for the second wild card spot in the National League.

After being swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in a four-game series this week, the Mets travel to San Francisco for a three-game set with the struggling Giants.

Shane McNichol covers college basketball and the NBA for Larry Brown Sports. He also blogs about basketball at Palestra Back and has contributed to Rush The Court, ESPN.com, and USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.

Mike Trout reportedly wanted to sign ‘lifetime deal’ with Angels

Mike Trout

Mike Trout will be just 28 years old when he becomes eligible to hit free agency after the 2020 season, and the Los Angeles Angels are going to have to pay an astronomical amount of money in order to keep him. According to a report, Trout proposed an idea back in 2014 that could have prevented him from ever having to sign another MLB contract.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports was told by sources that Trout proposed the idea of a “lifetime deal” when he was negotiating his last contract extension with the Angels. The idea would have been to sign something like a 14- or 15-year deal rather than the six-year pact the two sides eventually agreed to.

Angels owner Arte Moreno apparently felt a deal of that length for a 23-year-old player with only two full seasons under his belt was a bit too risky.

Trout set himself up for life with that rare, record six-year deal and will have a “second bite at the apple,” after he broached an extreme mega deal in talks (14 or 15 years, according to people familiar with those talks) before word came back that Angels owner Arte Moreno decided not to go for the lifetime deal for the two-year superstar, but hardly anyone’s repeating that strategy. It’s no certainty they would have been able to work it out the super mega deal, anyway, as Trout seemed pleased at the middle ground of six. But it was quite an interesting thought put forth by Trout’s side.

As Heyman notes, the Angels had already committed a combined $442.5 million to Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and C.J. Wilson at the time. In hindsight, none of those were good deals.

Pujols is signed through 2021 at an average annual salary of $24 million. He’ll make $29 million when he’s 40 and $30 million when he’s 41, which is a disturbing thought for a 37-year-old who is hitting just .239 with a .286 OBP and .382 slugging percentage — all career-lows by far. Hamilton is gone and Wilson was average, but never the ace L.A. expected him to be.

Trout could still end up signing an extension with the Angels before he hits free agency, but it will cost the team more than it would have if they worked out a lifetime deal. While he probably won’t get as much as this soon-to-be free agent, his contract will be eye-popping. If for some reason the Angels lose Trout, the “lifetime deal” report will infuriate fans.

H/T CBS Sports

Miguel Cabrera tickles Mariners fan’s beard (Video)

Miguel Cabrera found himself within an arm’s length of a bearded fan on Wednesday night, and the All-Star first baseman simply couldn’t resist giving the mane a stroke.

During the Seattle Mariners’ 7-5 win over the Detroit Tigers, a foul ball made its way into the stands down the first base line. When a fan turned to look for it, he was surprised to feel Cabrera’s glove tickling his beard.

I don’t know what’s more bold — Cabrera tickling a fan’s facial hair or that time Prince Fielder stole a nacho while chasing down a foul ball. We’ll stick with the latter.

Jarrod Dyson breaks unwritten rule with bunt, sparks rally

Jarrod Dyson bunt

In one swift act on Wednesday night, Jarrod Dyson proved why one of baseball’s unwritten rules is absurd.

Dyson laid down a beautiful bunt for a single during the sixth inning of Seattle’s game against Detroit on Wednesday, breaking up Justin Verlander’s perfect game. Ordinarily the unwritten rules say it’s bad form to break up a no-hitter or perfect game with a bunt hit, because that’s not considered as pure as recording a hit by swinging the bat.

But what ensued after Dyson’s bunt hit quickly pushed the perfect game into a distant memory.

After Dyson bunted for the hit with one out in the sixth and the Tigers up 4-0, Mike Zunino walked, Jean Segura singled to load the bases, Ben Gamel hit an RBI single, and two batters later Nelson Cruz chased Verlander from the game with a 2-run double to make it 4-3.

A game that Verlander was perfect in through 5.1 innings turned into a 7-4 victory for Seattle. If Dyson followed baseball’s unwritten rules and not laid down the bunt, perhaps he would have made an out, and the Mariners never would have broken the game open.

Unwritten rules should never take precedence when a team is trying to win a game, as Dyson and the Mariners were doing.

Mets upset with Yasiel Puig over slow home run trot

Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig has done it again. The Cuban slugger is at the center of another controversy over his celebration methods.

Puig clubbed a 3-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning against the New York Mets on Wednesday night and really admired his shot. As he rounded first, Wilmer Flores said something to him. Puig then slowed up and shouted back at Flores.

Puig ended up taking 32.1 seconds on his home trot which was one of the slowest in the majors all season.

After the inning ended, fellow Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, along with Jose Reyes, had a brief conversation with Puig about his celebration antics.

Puig’s actions continue to get him in trouble and has resulted in others trying to curb his behavior. In response, Puig recently vented that people have forced him to stop having fun.

Freddie Freeman planning to play third base upon return from disabled list

Freddie Freeman

Freddie Freeman has been on the disabled list since mid-May, and apparently his time on the shelf has triggered something of a reawakening in him.

The Atlanta Braves slugger told reporters on Wednesday that he plans to play third base for the team upon his return from injury.

“[My] mindset is to return as a third baseman,” said Freeman, per ESPN. “I mentioned it and said I’d be willing to move over to third base to accommodate Matt [Adams], who’s been pretty spectacular for us. It really happened yesterday when I was walking to the field.

“I’m completely on board with it, want to do it,” he added. “Gotta keep Matt’s bat in the lineup, and I’ll do anything to win. So this is what we came to.”

Freeman has been sidelined since breaking his left wrist on May 17. The injury prompted the Braves to acquire Adams in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals as a fill-in. Adams has been phenomenal for them since, batting .296/.349/.635 with 10 home runs and 27 RBIs in just 29 games.

As for Freeman, he has been a first baseman for his entire eight-season MLB career and has played 935 of his 946 career games at first. ESPN also notes that he hasn’t played third base since 2007 when he was a 17-year-old in the rookie Gulf Coast League. But the 32-38 Braves, currently a surprising second in the NL East, do indeed need to find a way to keep Adams’ bat in the lineup, and it sounds like the always-flexible Freeman is here for it.

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