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#pounditTuesday, July 27, 2021

Baseball

Alex Cora had funny reason for being relieved after huge comeback

Alex Cora

The Boston Red Sox came from behind to pull off a stunning comeback against the New York Yankees on Sunday, and Alex Cora was quick to remind everyone that it could not have come at a better time.

Yankees starter Domingo German took a no-hitter into the eighth inning before giving up a leadoff double to Alex Verdugo. German had been virtually untouchable to that point, but Aaron Boone felt 93 pitches was enough for the right-hander with New York holding a comfortable 4-0 lead. The Yankees then went into full meltdown mode.

After German was pulled, Boston had four consecutive hits, a groundout that drove in a run, and a sacrifice fly. Before you knew it, the Red Sox were leading 5-4. Matt Barnes came on for the save in the ninth on what happened to be “Family Day” at Fenway Park. That was not lost on Cora.

“I was just thinking about our Family Day today. It was going to be suck, to be honest with you, if we got shut out and they threw a no-hitter,” Cora told reporters after the game. “That’s all I was thinking about. I was like, ‘Man, this is gonna be a weird one.’ But now it’s gonna be a fun one.”

The Red Sox have won more games this season when they were trailing than when they have led wire-to-wire. That’s hardly a fluke. In what many expected to be a rebuilding year, Cora has pulled all the right strings and has the team looking like a legitimate World Series contender.

Boston improved to 61-39 with Sunday’s win and has the best record in the American League.

Video: Minor league manager Tripp Keister takes off jersey during ejection

Tripp Keister ejection

Minor league manager Tripp Keister is going viral for his ejection during his team’s game on Saturday.

Keister is the manager for the Harrisburg Senators, the Double-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. His team was leading the Portland Sea Dogs 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth. Keister was upset with an interference call. He took off his hat and placed it where the call was made. Then he took off his jersey while complaining to the umpires.

Keister was promoted to Double-A before the season and showed the fire that caught the Nats’ eyes. His team ended up losing 6-4 to Portland.

Report: Jose Ramirez could be available in trade

Jose Ramirez

Could the Cleveland Indians make Jose Ramirez available in a trade this season? One reporter thinks so.

Ramirez is completing a four-year, $26 million contract he signed in 2017. The deal includes club options for 2022 and 2023 at $12 and $14 million respectively.

Ramirez is a high-quality player and on an extremely affordable contract. That makes him desirable for other teams, but also is why Cleveland wouldn’t be highly motivated to move him.

However, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi believes that the Indians losing close to the deadline could lead them to consider a Ramirez trade.

The Indians have traded Francisco Lindor, Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer in recent years. So we shouldn’t put it past them to consider moving Ramirez.

The 28-year-old is a three-time All-Star and has finished in the top-3 in AL MVP voting three times. The versatile infielder has 20 home runs, 56 RBIs and 10 stolen bases this season. Cleveland would likely need to be blown away by a trade offer to consider parting ways with him.

Padres to call MLB over bad umpiring from Doug Eddings

Skip Shumaker ejected

The San Diego Padres plan to contact MLB over the umpiring in their 3-2 loss to the Miami Marlins on Saturday.

Numerous Padres players took issue with strike calls that went against them in the game. Fernando Tatis Jr., Wil Myers and Ha-seong Kim all were the victim of what they felt were bad calls by umpire Doug Eddings.

Tommy Pham wasn’t happy with a called strike three he received in the eighth and got ejected. Even associate manager Skip Shumaker got tossed for complaining about a lack of a strike call while the Padres were pitching in the bottom of the eighth.

Padres manager Jayce Tingler, who was not ejected, said his team was frustrated. He also said they would call MLB over the poor umpiring.

Here is a look at many of the calls that left the Padres upset:

The Padres’ broadcast wound up naming Eddings Player of the Game for his calls.

This is why Max Scherzer was scratched from Saturday’s start

Max Scherzer

Trade rumors began to heat up around Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer on Saturday. They only intensified when he was abruptly scratched from his scheduled start less than three hours before first pitch.

The Nationals were quick to clarify that Scherzer was not scratched because of any impending trade. Instead, the Nationals’ ace had right triceps soreness, which flared up in the batting cage on Tuesday and didn’t subside enough for him to make his start. Scherzer told reporters that he was confident he would miss only one turn through the rotation.

The late scratch came on the same day that it was reported that the Nationals were willing to listen to offers for Scherzer. As awkward as it is, it appears that this was all coincidental. That said, with the trade deadline six days away, one has to wonder if Scherzer has already made his final appearance in a Washington uniform.

Scherzer, who turns 37 on Tuesday, has posted a 2.83 ERA with 142 strikeouts in 105 innings so far this season.

Ozzie Guillen rips ‘fat boy’ Yermin Mercedes over retirement drama

Ozzie Guillen

Former Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has had enough of Yermin Mercedes’ attitude.

Mercedes, a catcher for the White Sox, caused a stir this week when he seemingly announced his retirement on Instagram before ultimately backtracking and apologizing. The attitude hasn’t gone down well with Guillen, who tore into Mercedes. Guillen referred to Mercedes as a “fat boy who eats hamburgers,” said he was “lucky” to get his shot in the majors, and criticized his attitude.

That’s about as brutal as it gets. Mercedes got off to a hot start, but the 28-year-old slumped in May before being sent down. His tenure was also marked by public criticism from Tony La Russa over Mercedes’ decision to swing 3-0 against a position player during a blowout.

This is par for the course from Guillen, at the very least. He might even dislike Mercedes even more than he couldn’t stand one particular player he managed with the White Sox.

Photo: Dirk DBQ/Flickr via CC-BY 2.0

Report: Nationals discussing possible Max Scherzer trades

Max Scherzer

The Washington Nationals may be moving toward selling at the trade deadline, and that could mean one of the league’s best starters is on the market.

According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Nationals have begun discussing pitcher Max Scherzer in trade talks. While the team is studying scenarios in which it might add, they’re also seven games back in the NL East. That factor is making a Scherzer trade appear “quite possible.”

As Heyman notes, Scherzer has veto power over any trade. That’s important because it will force the Nationals to consult with him on potential destinations, and gives Scherzer plenty of leverage. It’s been indicated that Scherzer will have a major request for any team that wants to trade for him, though it’s certainly possible that his camp was bluffing. If the Nationals really are out of it, it’s hard to imagine Scherzer opting against moving to a contender if the opportunity is given to him.

The 36-year-old Scherzer is fresh off starting the All-Star Game. His 2.83 ERA ranks tenth in the National League, and he’s third in the NL with 142 strikeouts. He’s in the final season of his contract, which is the key reason why the Nationals may be willing to listen to offers.

Angels minor leaguers accuse organization of poor treatment

Angels logo

Two Los Angeles Angels minor leaguers went on the record to describe what they called inadequate treatment of players within the organization, including paying salaries too low for players to live on.

Kieran Lovegrove, a pitcher for the Double-A Rocket City Trash Pandas, said money is so tight that players are dealing with a “serious mental health crisis” about how to make ends meet. He added that he was living with six teammates in a three-bedroom apartment where one of the players sleeps in the kitchen.

“It’s gotten to the point now where there are guys who are in a serious mental health crisis because of how stressful money is here,” Lovegrove told ESPN’s Joon Lee. “I really do think it affects not only their play on the field, but I think it affects quality of life overall. We’re reaching a point now where this is actually becoming detrimental to the players’ overall health, and the owner not addressing it is [the organization] actively saying that they don’t care about the health of their players.”

Shane Kelso, a former pitcher for the low-A Inland Empire 66ers, said he retired earlier in the season due to the living conditions for players. He said the Angels paid him $1,600 a month, which was less than his monthly rent. He added that some teammates lived out of cars due to a lack of money. He said his situation was similar to many of his teammates’, as the vast majority of minor leaguers are not top picks and did not get large signing bonuses.

Both players also said access to quality food was an issue for minor leaguers. Kelso said the organization told players to consume between 3,500 and 4,500 calories per day, but only provided between 800 and 1,200. Lovegrove added that some teammates had their bodies break down because they resorted to eating fast food, which was not nutritious enough for them to maintain muscle mass.

Lovegrove accused Angels owner Arte Moreno of not “(giving) a s— about the winning side” of a minor league system and cited the lack of players the Angels’ system has produced in recent years. He contrasted it to the time he spent in Cleveland’s minor league system, where the team provided players with three meals a day and renovated weight rooms for minor leaguers.

“It’s frustrating when you’re sitting in the pen and you’re hearing guys just harp about how bad the ownership is and how bad the organization is because you don’t want guys to be somewhere that they are unhappy,” Lovegrove said. “Is Moreno completely out of touch with the reality of what it’s like to be a player? Probably. I don’t see that really changing because I don’t know that he really does care about the quality of the organization so much as the amount of money it produces.”

Angels GM Perry Minasian called the reported treatment “unacceptable” and said the team would look into it.

Treatment of minor league players has been a hot topic in recent years, particularly after the entire 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic. Some owners tried to eliminate payments to minor league players during that period, only to backpedal amid criticism from the public and even MLB players. A story like this one will only reignite that scrutiny.

Nelson Cruz had to pay up to wear No. 23 for Rays

Nelson Cruz

Nelson Cruz has worn No. 23 at every MLB stop he’s made since 2014. The same will be true with the Tampa Bay Rays, but the number did not come cheap.

Cruz has been the subject of trade rumors for weeks, and the topic came up at the MLB All-Star Game last week. Cruz said Rays coaches joked with him at the game that he would have to do something big to convince pitching coach Kyle Snyder to part with the number.

Cruz is doing that: he said Friday that he plans on getting Snyder a Rolex to land the number.

Even a cheap Rolex is going to run Cruz four figures, and the high-end ones are worth upwards of $50,000. Of course, Cruz is making $13 million this year, so he can certainly afford it.

Cruz can look at it this way: the price probably could have been way higher.

Rich Hill traded to Mets from Rays

New York Mets logo

The New York Mets are looking to hold onto first place in the NL East, and they made a move on Friday to bolster their rotation for the stretch run.

The Mets agreed to a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays to acquire veteran left-hander Rich Hill, as first reported by Fansided’s Robert Murray. New York is sending reliever Tommy Hunter and minor league catcher Matt Dyer to the Rays in the trade.

Hill has been as solid as expected for the Rays this season. The 41-year-old has a record of 6-4 and an ERA of 3.87 in 19 starts, which is already the most he has made in any season since 2018.

The Rays recently took on a significant amount of money when they acquired slugger Nelson Cruz in a trade, so the Hill deal gives them some financial relief. Hill signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal with Tampa Bay before the season.

Hill should be a reliable addition to the Mets’ starting rotation.