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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Baseball

Top prospect Brendan McKay hits four home runs in game

Brendan McKay

On the same day that SI put a high school baseball player on its cover, a top college prospect reminded everyone why he should still be in the mix to be the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming MLB draft.

Brendan McKay, a junior for Louisville, clubbed four home runs and drove in 9 during the Cardinals’ 14-4 win over Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday.

McKay hit a pair of 2-run home runs on 3-1 counts in his first two at-bats, then a 3-run shot in the 4th, and another 2-run blast in the 9th. He went 4-for-5 in the game, with the lone out being a strike out. The pitcher who K’d him should be celebrating.

McKay entered the game batting .388 with seven home runs on the season. He said afterwards that it was his first multi-homer game in a very long time.

“Fun but it’s also weird knowing that all of your hits were home runs. By the third and fourth time, all your teammates are trying to get in on the fun. Still, they’re trying to mess with you.”

The four home runs tied a school record set in 1976, according to Louisville.

In addition to being a slugger for the Cardinals, McKay is also a top pitcher. He has gone 5-3 with a 1.83 ERA this season. He has allowed just 37 hits while striking out 83 in 59 innings.

McKay has helped Louisville become one of the top-ranked programs in the country this season. He is one of the players in consideration for the top pick in the draft, which the Minnesota Twins hold. Another potential prospect is high schooler Hunter Greene, who is on this week’s SI cover.

Jose Altuve leaves game after scary outfield collision (Video)

Jose Altuve was removed from Tuesday’s game between the Indians and Astros after a scary collision in the outfield with Teoscar Hernandez.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Altuve and Hernandez were both tracking a shallow fly ball off the bat of Yan Gomes when the two collided, leaving both men on the ground in discomfort. Here are a couple of videos from different angles.

Altuve left the game under his own power. However, Hernandez was taken off on a cart, per Mark Berman of FOX 26.

Hernandez was called up from Triple-A earlier in the day and was making his first big league appearance of the season. He entered the game in the seventh inning as a defensive replacement. Altuve, a four-time All-Star came into the game hitting .324 and leads the American League in stolen bases with seven. Hopefully, both are able to avoid serious injuries.

Mitch Haniger suffers strained oblique

Mitch Haniger

Mariners breakout star Mitch Haniger encountered some bad luck on Tuesday.

The Seattle outfielder suffered a strained oblique during his team’s game against the Detroit Tigers. He appeared to hurt himself on a swing that produced a single in the third, as he was lifted for a pinch runner.

Haniger had been one of the most productive players in baseball prior to his injury. He was 2-for-2 on Tuesday and is hitting .338/.442/.600 this season. He has hit seven doubles and four home runs.

There is no word yet on how much time Haniger could miss, but the Tacoma News Tribune’s Bob Dutton notes that strained obliques typically sideline players for a while.

The Mariners entered Tuesday’s game 8-12 and last place in the AL West. Losing their most productive player probably won’t help their effort to turn things around.

Kris Bryant has hilarious explanation for not bat flipping

Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant has a hilarious explanation for why he doesn’t do bat flips as a player.

Player celebrations has become a divisive issue recently, especially with some Latin players such as Yasiel Puig in the league and doing well because it presents a culture clash. Many American players don’t do it because they’re taught it’s a sign of disrespect to pitchers and the game in general. Other countries such as Korea and Cuba like their players to celebrate with bat flips because it makes the game more fun.

Here’s why Bryant says he doesn’t do it.

“If it’s halfway up the video board, that’s it, that’s enough of a disgrace for the pitcher that you don’t need to add anything to it,” Bryant told 670 The Score’s Dan Bernstein and Jason Goff during an interview on Tuesday. “You crushed a home run, you felt good about it. He felt bad about it. And it’s good.”

Though Bryant doesn’t bat flip, he doesn’t have a problem with others doing it.

“If you’re watching a home run for a little bit, I don’t know if that’s necessarily showing up the other team, but certain guys play that way and certain pitchers are going to be upset seeing that,” Bryant said. “But I think if you add more of that fun to the game, let guys be themselves — I’ll never do it, I’ll be the same boring Kris that I’ve always been — but if guys are going to do that, I think sometimes we’re a little too sensitive with certain things.

“I’ll never do it because I don’t want to be the guy that thinks it’s gone and it doesn’t go out. Because once you’re that guy, you’re always that guy.”

So if Bryant is quiet and humble and boring, when does he actually talk trash? Only in a few situations.

Purists have to love those comments from the Chicago Cubs slugger. Not only is Bryant a brilliant young player, but he’s also quite humble. The only disappointment from him is that despite having 67 home runs in his brief career, Bryant says he doesn’t have much interest in participating in the Home Run Derby. That’s OK, because he shows his power off enough to fans in games that matter as is.

Hunter Greene ‘humbled’ to make SI cover as high schooler

Hunter Greene SI

SI made the bold move to put a high school athlete on its cover this week, giving the honor to baseball prospect Hunter Greene.

Greene is a senior at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif. and has been a four-year varsity player for the program. Notre Dame is the same school that produced Giancarlo Stanton and Jack McDowell among many other big leaguers.

Greene has been one of the most talked about prospects in baseball for the past few years as he’s been an all-state player since his freshman year and a member of USA Baseball.

In its cover story, SI advertises Greene as Noah Syndergaard on the mound and Alex Rodriguez in the field. Greene has been clocked at over 100 mph as a pitcher and can hit balls out of MLB stadiums with a wood bat. That duality has led to a predicament, which is figuring out how to use Greene at the next level. Will he be a pitcher or position player in MLB? The Minnesota Twins, picking No. 1 overall, could have the chance to decide that, though many think Greene’s greatest value will be as a pitcher.

Greene is the first high school baseball player featured on the SI cover since Bryce Harper and just the 13th high schooler overall who’s been placed on the magazine’s cover. Other such athletes include Kevin Garnett and LeBron James.

One area where Greene truly stands out is with his character. He has done off-the-field charity for years and frequently lauds his teammates in interviews, trying to make sure they get celebrated as much as he does.

So it was no surprise that when the cover story came out Tuesday, Greene’s only words were that he was “humbled”. He then thanked all his teammates and coaches.

It’s not easy to live up to the hype when you’ve been proclaimed as the next great one; that’s a lot of pressure and even a burden. But Greene really has his head screwed on well and has the drive and character to maximize his potential. The Twins should take him confidently, and fans should be looking forward to watching a potential future Hall of Famer.

Derek Jeter, Jeb Bush group reportedly agrees to buy Marlins for $1.3 billion

Derek Jeter face reaction

A group led by former Florida governor Jeb Bush and future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter has agreed to purchase the Miami Marlins for $1.3 billion, according to the Miami Herald.

The Marlins have been available for purchase, with a report in February saying Jeffrey Loria had an agreement to sell the team for $1.6 billion. That deal apparently fell through, as did one involving the family of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law.

This deal is not finalized as MLB still has to approve the purchase and many details need to be worked out, per the Herald’s report.

The ownership group includes at least five investors, with Bush set to be the “control person” for the group. Jeter, who has long expressed his desire to own a team after he retired, would bring a credible name and face to the organization.

The Herald cites many reasons behind Loria’s decision to sell the team, including estate planning; sadness over the death of Jose Fernandez; disappointment with the team’s losing; and criticism from fans over the team’s lack of success.

Dustin Pedroia: No rift in Red Sox clubhouse after Manny Machado incident

Dustin Pedroia appeared to take the side of an opposing player over one of his own teammates on Sunday, but the Boston Red Sox infielder insists the incident has not created any issues in the clubhouse.

It all started last Friday, when Pedroia had to leave a game against the Baltimore Orioles because Manny Machado slid into him spikes-high and injured his ankle. Some felt the slide was dirty, but the Red Sox did not retaliate — until two days later. In the eighth inning on Sunday, Boston reliever Matt Barnes threw a pitch near the head of Machado.

Rather than thank his teammate for grabbing his back, Pedroia immediately got Machado’s attention and assured him he did not support the apparent retaliation. On Tuesday, Pedroia was asked if he created any tension.

No one should ever mess around with pitches up near the head, so you can understand why Pedroia wanted to distance himself from Barnes’ decision. Still, it’s incredibly rare to see a player publicly take an opponent’s side like Pedroia did with Machado. You can see the video of how it all went down here.

Had it been a younger player who jumped to defend Machado, this would probably be an issue for the Red Sox. But Pedroia is arguably the most respected player in the clubhouse now that David Ortiz is gone. Don’t expect much to come of it.

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