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Monday, July 13, 2020

Baseball

Kenley Jansen reports to Dodgers camp after testing positive for coronavirus

Kenley Jansen

We now know why Kenley Jansen was late to Los Angeles Dodgers camp, and it turns out he had a pretty good reason.

Jansen arrived in camp Sunday and said he had previously tested positive for the coronavirus. Jansen said he had had a fever, but never had any intention of skipping the season and expects to be ready to go on Opening Day.

Jansen has previously undergone heart surgery, so it’s very good news that he was able to put the virus behind him. The fact that he’s in camp suggests that he has successfully tested negative twice.

The Dodger closer saved 33 games last season, posting a 3.71 ERA, his highest mark ever since arriving in the majors.

Michael Kopech opts out of 2020 MLB season

Michael Kopech

Michael Kopech has become the latest MLB player to opt out of the league’s shortened season.

The pitcher informed the Chicago White Sox on Friday that he would not play in 2020, general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement, adding that the organization is supportive of his choice.

A key part of the Chris Sale trade with Boston, Kopech hasn’t pitched since 2018, when he made his first four MLB starts for Chicago. He underwent Tommy John surgery that September, which also cost him the entire 2019 season. The 24-year-old is known as one of the hardest-throwing starters in the game, though he suggested he might ease back a bit as he returned from the surgery.

This is particularly unfortunate news for the team, as the White Sox had been hopeful as recently as late June that Kopech would play a big role in a shortened season.

Yu Darvish planning to stay with Cubs after seeing them comply with social distancing rules

Yu Darvish

Yu Darvish was considering sitting out the 2020 season, but his Chicago Cubs teammates appear to have convinced him not to.

Darvish said Sunday he wanted to see how seriously his teammates were taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and came away impressed enough to tentatively commit to playing.

“I came here making sure everyone is doing the right thing, and then I had it in mind, if they’re not, I was ready to go home,” Darvish said through an interpreter, via Jesse Rogers of ESPN.

Darvish added that their actions — as well as the fact that everyone else on the team appears committed to playing — made his decision easier.

“It was a tough decision but everyone is doing it (playing),” Darvish said. “Everyone has concerns but everyone decided to play so it makes it easier of me to make a decision to play.”

Darvish’s concerns are valid. While players seem to be abiding by MLB’s directives, some definitely haven’t enjoyed it.

Safety is paramount, though, and Darvish is convinced the Cubs are responding accordingly. It appears to be enough to get him to play, and that’s a big deal. The 33-year-old posted a 3.98 ERA last season, and may end up being the staff ace in 2020.

Albert Almora crashes into wall during Cubs’ intrasquad game but seems fine

Albert Almora catch

Albert Almora crashed into the center field wall at Wrigley Field during an instrasquad game on Friday, but he appears to be fine.

Cubs reporter Jordan Bastian shared video of the play, which occurred when Kris Bryant hit a Craig Kimbrel pitch deep to center.

Almora was down after hitting the wall and received medical attention.

Though he was replaced in center field, Almora returned to hit an RBI single and drew a walk that ended the intrasquad game. He also returned to play center field.

According to Bastian, the Cubs said Almora sustained a mild left rib contusion.

Almora, 26, batted .236/.271/.381 with 11 doubles and 12 home runs in 130 games last season. This will be his fifth Major League season since being called up in 2016. You may recall he was involved in a difficult situation last year after one of his foul balls hit a young child who was attending a Cubs-Astros game in Houston.

Indians likely to change Francisco Lindor’s spot in batting order

The Cleveland Indians have grown accustomed to Francisco Lindor hitting in the leadoff spot for them, but that will probably be changing soon.

Speaking with the media on Sunday, Indians manager Terry Francona said that Lindor will “likely” hit third in the batting order, per Zack Meisel of The Athletic. Francona added that Cesar Hernandez may hit leadoff instead.

Lindor, the four-time All-Star shortstop, has been Cleveland’s leadoff hitter for the last two seasons. In the early part of his career though, Lindor mainly toggled between the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in the order, so he does already have some experience batting out of that range.

The 26-year-old has also developed a good blend of average and power, hitting .284 last season with 32 home runs and an .854 OPS. That could explain the comfort level of the Indians, who could be seeing a lot of change this season, in shaking up Lindor’s spot in the order.

Zack Greinke does not seem thrilled about universal DH

Zack Greinke

Zack Greinke has long been the proverbial “pitcher who rakes,” so the new designated hitter rule is not exactly a welcome change for him.

Speaking with reporters on Friday, the Houston Astros pitcher reacted to the universal designated hitter rule that will be implemented for the 2020 season.

“I like hitting. I’d rather go back and play a position if I was allowed to,” said Greinke, per Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. “But I’m better at pitching. So people have me pitch.”

Rome’s story added that Greinke, a career .225 hitter, is “disappointed” that he might not be able to bat this season. The former Cy Young winner also has nine career homers and actually hit a stellar .280 with an .888 OPS in 56 plate appearances last season.

At-bats would have been hard to come by anyway now that Greinke is in the American League. But the possibility of the universal DH rule carrying over into 2021 and beyond could mean that the 36-year-old has already hit for the last time. At least Greinke has an ally though in this fellow veteran pitcher.

Red Sox P shares fantastic Julio Franco story

Julio Franco

Boston Red Sox pitcher Collin McHugh shared a great story about Julio Franco on Sunday.

Baseball reporter Hector Gomez shared a video on Friday of Franco taking swings in a batting cage and looking like he was in fantastic shape.

That’s not bad for a 61-year-old, right?

Well McHugh’s story is great. He says that when Franco managed the Mets’ Gulf Coast League team, McHugh asked Franco if he worked out every day. Franco was incredulous over the question and shot back, “do you eat every day?”

Franco was famous for being an ageless wonder. He played 23 seasons in MLB from 1982-2007, all the way up to the age of 48. He led the league in hitting with a .341 batting average in 1991 and made three All-Star teams.