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Monday, July 13, 2020

Baseball

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.

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.

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.

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.

Report: Blue Jays still exploring playing home games in Buffalo

Blue Jays logo

The Toronto Blue Jays still don’t know where they’ll be playing their home games in 2020.

The Blue Jays have been given permission to stage summer camp at Rogers Centre in Toronto, with major restrictions on movement. However, they have yet to receive approval to play regular season games there due to the amount of travel in and out that would be required for both the Blue Jays and visiting teams.

According to Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News, the Blue Jays have subsequently reached out to the Buffalo Bisons, their Triple-A affiliate, about the potential of playing games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo. This is a contingency plan for if the Blue Jays cannot get approval to play in Toronto, which remains their preference and goal.

While Sahlen Field is a decent option, there are concerns over the quality of stadium lighting as well as whether there is enough space to accommodate an MLB operation. Ultimately, though, the Jays may be left with no other option if they are told they can’t play in Toronto.

The Blue Jays had also looked into using their spring training home in Florida for the 2020 season. It’s not clear whether that plan could also still be on the table.

Marcus Stroman expects to be ‘one of the top arms’ in free agency after 2020

Marcus Stroman

New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman is set to become a free agent after the 2020 season, and he certainly thinks he’ll be one of the best pitchers available.

Stroman said Sunday he expects to be one of the top pitchers available in free agency, offering up some reasons why he feels he should be in high demand on the open market.

Stroman is not lacking in confidence, and there’s some evidence to back his assertions. Chris Archer and Jake Arrieta would have been highly-touted names once, but Archer has struggled since being traded to Pittsburgh and Arrieta will be 35. Trevor Bauer, who like Stroman will be 30 at the end of the season, is probably the only comparable in terms of age and statistical accomplishments. Unlike Stroman, however, Bauer’s contractual demands might be rather unique.

Stroman has a career 3.76 ERA, and he was an All-Star in 2019. He’s still fairly young, and while it may be hard to do too much for his value in a shortened season, a strong 2020 couldn’t hurt his case.

Giants unlikely to have prospect Joey Bart replace Buster Posey

Buster Posey

The San Francisco Giants will need a replacement for Buster Posey this season, but it’s unlikely to be prospect Joey Bart.

Posey opted out of the 2020 MLB season for family reasons. Some were wondering whether Bart, who was the No. 2 pick in the 2018 draft, would get the call to the majors, but that does not sound like it is happening. Both Giants manager Gabe Kapler and President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi have said that Bart still has some development left.

Bart played 57 games in High-A last season and 22 games in Double-A. He batted an impressive .316/.368/.544 in those 22 games, but the Giants don’t want to rush his development and put him against Major League pitching yet.

Rob Brantly and Tyler Heineman will likely see action at catcher for the Giants this season.