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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Baseball

Video: Hunter Greene throws pitch through moving car

Hunter Greene

Hunter Greene has been rehabbing from Tommy John surgery for a little over a year now, and Cincinnati Reds fans are hoping the feat he pulled off on Sunday is a sign of things to come.

Green shared a video on Twitter that showed him throwing a pitch through the window of a moving car and out the other side. Don’t worry, there was no one driving. The vehicle was a self-driving Tesla. Check it out:

It’s unclear how many attempts that took, but it was impressive nonetheless.

Greene, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, underwent Tommy John surgery last year. He had shaky stats in his first two minor league seasons before being shut down due to the elbow injury, but he has showcased some incredible velocity. Throwing a ball through a moving car window may not have much to do with getting back to actual baseball, but it’s good to see the 20-year-old looking on point.

Mike Trout calls Max Scherzer toughest pitcher he has faced

Max Scherzer

Mike Trout has some high praise for Max Scherzer.

Trout talked with Brooks Koepka on Nike Golf’s Instagram page Sunday. Koepka asked the Los Angeles Angels outfielder who the toughest pitcher he has faced is. Trout shouted out the Washington Nationals ace and even recalled an at-bat in the 2018 All-Star Game against Scherzer that he called one of his best.

Trout has made eight straight All-Star Games and is a three-time AL MVP winner, with a career .305 batting average and 1.000 OPS.

There are some pitchers against whom Trout has had little success, such as Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-for-10) and Justin Verlander (5-for-40). Against Scherzer, Trout has gone 3-for-16 (.188) with a double, homer, no walks and 10 strikeouts.

As far as strikeouts-to-walks ratio, no pitcher has gotten the better of Trout more than Scherzer, so the numbers match up with what Trout says. And with three Cy Young Awards on his resume, Scherzer is one of the best pitchers in the game, and very worthy of having this honor from Trout.

Ex-Yankees star says Gerrit Cole will now face ‘double the pressure’ in New York

Gerrit Cole

Gerrit Cole’s delayed start to his New York Yankees career will present some unique challenges for him, at least in the eyes of one former Yankees star.

In an interview this week with The New York Post, retired All-Star slugger Mark Teixeira, a crown jewel of the Yankees’ 2009 free agent class, spoke on the added difficulties that Cole may now face because of the current situation.

“I couldn’t imagine going through that,” the now 40-year-old Teixeira said. “2009 was the most anticipation I ever had for any baseball season. Signing that contract and having a chance at a World Series, I wanted to get to work. I would have reported to Tampa [for spring training] the next day. For a guy like Gerrit Cole to be home throwing bullpens in his backyard when he should be at Yankee Stadium in front of 50,000 fans, it’s got to be tough.

“Cole is the best in the business because of what he does over a six-month season,” Teixeira continued. “Now there’s double the pressure on what was already a pressure-packed season. And not just for Cole, but all the Yankees, because of the team [GM Brian] Cashman put together.”

The 2019 MLB strikeouts leader Cole was the top prize of this winter’s free agent class, signing a record-breaking nine-year, $324 million contract to join the Yankees. He was only able to get four starts for the team in spring training though (for a total of nine innings pitched) before play was suspended.

As for Teixeira, he certainly delivered on his similarly high price tag in his first season with the Yankees in 2009, leading the American League in home runs and RBIs as the team went on to capture their 27th World Series title. Cole might feel pressure to deliver comparable success despite a likely shortened 2020 season, especially with how all-in he already is on the Yankees.

Report: Giancarlo Stanton may not exercise opt-out from Yankees contract

Giancarlo Stanton

Giancarlo Stanton has an important decision to make at the end of the 2020 season, and he may not end up taking the route that many once expected him to.

Stanton can opt out of his current deal with the New York Yankees to test the free agent market if he chooses. However, according to George A. King III of the New York Post, there was growing skepticism that Stanton would exercise it even before the postponement of the start of the season.

Stanton hit .266 with 38 home runs in his first season with the Yankees. Year two was a disaster, as he played in just 18 games due to various injuries. He suffered another injury issue in spring training that would have jeopardized his readiness for Opening Day had it proceeded as scheduled.

Stanton would walk away from $218 million guaranteed if he opted out. A few years ago, he seemed almost certain to do better on the open market. Now, with his injury issues and the sport’s uncertain financial future, he may be best served staying right where he is.

Art Howe released from hospital after battling coronavirus

Former Oakland A’s manager Art Howe was released from the hospital on Sunday as he continues to battle the coronavirus.

The 73-year-old former manager was hospitalized on Tuesday after beginning to feel sick from the virus on May 3. He was placed in intensive care and needed to show no signs of a fever for 24 hours in order to be released. Apparently he met that criteria.

Howe lost his sense of taste when he was ill and is still feeling those effects.

Howe, who isn’t sure how he contracted the virus, also encouraged people to be careful, via the Houston Chronicle’s Brian McTaggart.

The good news is that Howe is making progress in his recovery.

Howe’s longest tenure as a manager came when he led the Oakland A’s from 1996-2002. He was portrayed in the movie “Moneyball” by late actor Philip Seymour-Hoffman.

Report: Some in MLB skeptical social distancing protocols are practical

Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball raised some eyebrows with their lengthy list of social distancing protocols, and apparently some of those reactions came from inside the sport.

According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, there is concern among some within baseball that the social distancing protocols are impractical, and it has raised questions whether playing will be safe enough or even worth the effort.

You can see some of the guidelines by clicking here. They are very extensive, covering everything from spitting to high fives to proper seating arrangements in the dugout.

The financial incentives are probably too great for no baseball to happen, but it’s likely that some players are going to find these guidelines hard to abide by. We’ll see if MLB has a plan to enforce them.

Christian Yelich explains how hitting drill with Barry Bonds helped change his career

Christian Yelich cap

Barry Bonds may be one of the most controversial figures in sports history, but there is no debating he is one of the greatest hitters of all time. Christian Yelich had an opportunity to work with Bonds when the two were with the Miami Marlins, and the Milwaukee Brewers star says one particular session he had with Bonds several years ago helped him tremendously.

During a recent episode of “Sequence” with Jomboy Media’s Trevor Plouffe, Yelich gave an in-depth explanation of how a hitting drill Bonds showed him back in 2016 helped him become an MVP. He said Bonds had him take a wide stance and told him to focus on trying to hit the ball off the front of the plate. When Yelich struggled with it at first, Bonds stepped in to show him how it was done.

“So he grabs the bat and just starts pounding balls off the plate,” Yelich recalled. “He like showed me what he was talking about … So I get in and start doing that. After a few of that, he’s like, ‘OK, now I want you (hit the ball) like six, seven feet out there.’ We slowly did that and we brought the ball up to about line-drive level. I still had that chopping feeling, but you’re not actually steep. Your path is just so short and cleaned up. It was his way of cleaning up his bat path when he played.”

Yelich said Bonds and other great hitters always talk about swinging down on the ball, which is becoming a less popular approach in today’s game. However, it helped Yelich create backspin on the ball so he felt like he was swinging down but was really hitting “backspin missiles.”

“I had never really done that before. If I had, it was pure luck, accident,” Yelich said. “I never really understood it. I was always a guy who just hit and could feel when it felt good or not good. I never really had any reasoning behind anything.”

After that, something clicked. Yelich says the next batting practice he had was the best one of his entire life. You can hear the full discussion below, and it’s worth a listen.

Yelich hit a career-high 44 home runs last season after belting 36 the year before. He signed a monster contract this offseason, and it sounds like Bonds deserves some credit for that. We know a lot of what makes Yelich great is the way he can use criticism as fuel, but he clearly made the most of the time he spent with Bonds in Miami.