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Monday, October 23, 2017

Baseball

Report: Nationals to interview Dave Martinez for managerial job

The Washington Nationals are scrambling to find a replacement for Dusty Baker, and have turned to a longtime major league coach as a possibility.

The Nationals will reportedly speak with Chicago Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez about their vacancy, according to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post.

Martinez has been Joe Maddon’s right hand man since 2008, when he joined his staff with the Tampa Bay Rays. He moved to Chicago with Maddon in 2015. Even before then, he was mentioned as a managerial candidate pretty much every offseason, but has never actually landed a job. Perhaps the Nationals could change that, particularly with one of their main candidates now off the board.

Jake Arrieta has shaved and looks barely recognizable

Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta has gone back to a clean-shaved look, and he is barely recognizable.

Arrieta’s wife Brittany shared a photo on Twitter Sunday of her with her husband. The pitcher looks completely different.

Compare that to this photo Brittany shared a week ago after the Chicago Cubs had beaten the Washington Nationals in the NLDS to advance to the NLCS.

Arrieta will be a free agent this offseason and could be one of the most interesting cases. He won the Cy Young award with an absurd 2015 season where he went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA. He’s still a strong pitcher, but those expecting him to replicate that may be left disappointed.

CC Sabathia hoping to return to Yankees in 2018

CC Sabathia is keeping his fingers crossed that Saturday’s heartbreaking loss to the Houston Astros wasn’t his final game with the New York Yankees.

After Sabathia took the season-ending defeat in Game 7 of the ALCS, he told reporters that he was hoping to return to the Yankees in 2018.

“I want to see this through,” said the veteran lefty, per Ashley Varela of HardballTalk. “This is where I want to play.”

Sabathia, 37, has finally reached the end of his contract with the Yankees after being with them for the last nine seasons. During his time in pinstripes, he has made three All-Star teams, led the league in wins twice, and won the World Series with them in 2009. Sabathia also had a resurgent 2017, going 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA during the year before delivering some big playoff performances.

Nonetheless, Sabathia has seen a lot of age-related decline in velocity and arm strength in recent years, and the Yankees may not want to continue giving a roster spot to an old ex-workhorse. Given the ups and downs that the former Cy Young winner has endured in New York however, it would certainly be fitting for him to finish his career with the Bombers, practicality permitting.

Lance McCullers used Jose Fernandez as inspiration during ALCS clincher

Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. pitched the last four innings of his team’s 4-0 ALCS Game 7 win on Saturday night, and he did so with some inspiration from a fallen friend.

McCullers was close friends and offseason workout partners with Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident in Miami a little over a year ago. The right-hander admitted that he twice used Fernandez as inspiration as he tried to close out the New York Yankees in Game 7.

“I said, ‘Hey, show what you got, because Jose would,'” McCullers said, via Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. “Dead serious. Stepped off the mound, looked down. You know, people you loved from your past, they’re never off your mind. They’re always there, in the back of it.

“This season wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I want to pitch well for Jose.’ It was more like, ‘I want to celebrate the way he loved the game, the way he played the game.’ I still love him, and I’m very sure he was watching.”

Fernandez has certainly been an inspirational figure since his death, and not just for McCullers. You can bet that the Astros right-hander will be thinking of his friend when he makes his World Series debut.

Red Sox confirm Alex Cora as new manager

Alex Cora

The Boston Red Sox have confirmed that Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora will be their new manager.

Cora will join the Red Sox after the Astros have completed their playoff run, but the Red Sox confirmed the hiring in a statement released Sunday.

The hiring comes as no surprise, as it had been widely reported that the two sides already had a deal in place. The biggest obstacle was working around Houston’s playoff schedule. Cora had his pick of jobs, but given the backing at his disposal in Boston — plus a team already contending — the Red Sox were likely an obvious choice.

Mets reportedly naming Mickey Callaway manager

The New York Mets are reportedly bringing in a well-respected pitching coach as their new skipper.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported Sunday that the Mets have chosen Cleveland Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway as their new manager, and a deal is being finalized.

The 42-year-old Callaway has been Cleveland’s pitching coach under Terry Francona since 2013, overseeing the evolution of Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco into elite starting pitchers. He beat out at least one more offensively-oriented candidate who was already in the Mets’ organization to land the job.

The 2015 Mets marched to the World Series on the back of a supremely talented rotation that included young stars Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz. Both injuries and inconsistency have hit pretty much every one of them since then, and the Mets may be hoping that Callaway’s experience with pitchers could help salvage what once looked like one of the best rotations in baseball.

Josh Reddick excited to face Dodgers due to how he was treated by their fans

Josh Reddick is very much looking forward to his opportunity for sweet, sweet revenge against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

After his Houston Astros clinched the AL pennant with an ALCS Game 7 win over the New York Yankees, the veteran outfielder said he was excited to play the Dodgers because of how their fans treated him during his brief stint there.

“Personally, I wouldn’t rather do it against any other team,” said Reddick, according to the LA Times’ Pedro Moura. “I wasn’t really a fan favorite there. I got booed a lot as a home player. I didn’t really fit in, it seemed like they thought. I tried to put that behind me. But I think it’s gonna be fun to go back, especially to beat them. It’s gonna be a really good feeling for me personally.

“Nothing against that team, that organization,” he continued. “There’s a lot of history and a lot of great guys over there. But the fanbase, I think it would be more personal for me to win. Just to get that reaction from them. But it’s not gonna be easy. They’re a really good team, a really good ballpark. Their fans are gonna be loud, just like it was for this series for the Yankees.”

Reddick was acquired by the Dodgers in a midseason trade last year but hit just .258 in his two months with them and never seemed like a good fit in LA. He then signed with the Astros in free agency over the offseason, going on to hit .314 for them this year. Dodger fans are known to be pretty savage, so it’s no wonder that Reddick is hoping for the ultimate way to get back at them.

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