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#pounditSunday, August 14, 2022

Baseball

Alex Rodriguez shares gross cereal story during ‘Kay-Rod’ broadcast

Alex Rodriguez shares a disgusting cereal story involving Derek Jeter's fridge.

Derek Jeter’s appearance Sunday on ESPN’s “Kay-Rod” broadcast with Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez produced some interesting moments, including an old story from Rodriguez about Jeter’s inability to keep a jam-packed refrigerator.

Rodriguez’s story may have pained cereal lovers everywhere.

According to Rodriguez, he once spent the night at Jeter’s home prior to a game between the two early on in their careers. Rodriguez went to the former New York Yankee captain’s fridge in the morning to find some breakfast.

While the fridge was pretty bare, Rodriguez did manage to find some Lucky Charms cereal to eat. Cereal is a food most commonly served with milk, but Jeter did not have any milk in his fridge. So Rodriguez had to improvise with another famous breakfast beverage that made for a pretty gross combination.

“I’m eating Lucky Charms, no milk,” Rodriguez said. “I get a little orange juice, throw it in the Lucky Charms and that was my breakfast of champions.”

Jeter said that he did not fully remember the incident, but did admit that his fridge was not well-stocked back then.

Rodriguez and Jeter have had a notably strained relationship over the years, and Jeter’s appearance on Sunday produced a few uncomfortable moments. Not many were as awkward as when ESPN showed a famous photo of Jeter and Rodriguez against Jeter’s wishes.

Derek Jeter gets ambushed with infamous photo on ‘Kay-Rod’ broadcast

Derek Jeter A-Rod reaction

Derek Jeter made a guest appearance on ESPN2’s Kay-Rod Cast of Sunday’s Red Sox-Yankees game, but he didn’t exactly have the best time doing so.

Jeter appeared in the studio alongside Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay and former teammate Alex Rodriguez, and the broadcast produced some awkward moments. Perhaps the strangest and funniest was the telecast bringing up the infamous shirtless photo of Jeter, Rodriguez, Rey Ordonez, and Edgar Renteria, which was taken for a 1997 Sports Illustrated feature. The photo has lived on through the internet, and Jeter quite clearly is not a fan of seeing it dredged up.

Jeter threatened that it would be “my last visit here” if the photo was put up on-screen. It immediately was, and Jeter didn’t even crack a smile.

Jeter isn’t typically one for frequent media appearances anyway, though he has recently been making the rounds to promote his ESPN docuseries “The Captain.” It isn’t necessarily anything personal if he makes good on his promise. Still, Jeter did not look even remotely amused, even while Rodriguez got a laugh out of it.

Jeter and A-Rod have long had a famously tense relationship, even when they played together as teammates. Jeter actually shed some light as to why that was recently. If trust was at the heart of it, this probably isn’t going to help mend any more fences.

Video: Luke Voit has depressing reaction to Manny Machado RBI

Luke Voit partaking in an in-game interview.

Luke Voit was one of the players traded to the Washington Nationals from the San Diego Padres in the Juan Soto deal prior to the August 2 deadline. And it appears that Voit misses playing for his former team.

The Padres beat the Nationals 6-0 on Sunday to sweep a three-game series.

During the top of the third inning, Voit participated in an in-game interview while Padres third baseman Manny Machado at the plate.

While Voit was in the middle of a sentence, Machado lined a base hit into left field that scored a run to bring the Padres’ lead to 2-0. When the ball dropped in for a hit, Voit mumbled a deflating one-word reaction.

“Goddamn,” Voit said.

One can almost hear the pain in Voit’s voice there.

Voit’s deflating reaction may have been in regard to getting traded from a contender in the Padres to one of MLB’s worst teams in the Nationals. Washington has a 38-78 record and trails the National League East-leading New York Mets by 37.5 games. The Padres on the other hand are 65-52 and currently occupy the second N.L. Wild Card spot.

The 31-year-old Voit has hit .228 with 15 home runs and 51 RBI this season.

In the initial deal for Juan Soto, it was a different Padres first baseman who was in the return for Washington. Based on Voit’s depressing interview on Sunday, it may be safe to say that he wishes he were still a Padre.

Angels send message about potential Mike Trout return

Mike Trout in his Angels uniform

May 14, 2022; Oakland, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) jogs to the dugout during the third inning against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

With the Los Angeles Angels fading from the playoff picture, the team might be tempted to shut Mike Trout down for the season. Manager Phil Nevin certainly made clear Sunday that will not be happening.

Trout has been taking batting practice and is scheduled to face living pitching soon, Nevin said via MLB.com. Trout may not even need a rehab assignment, and the team expects him back before the end of the month.

Trout has not played since July 12 due to a lingering back injury. The issue sounds quite significant long-term, but there has never been much talk from either Trout or the Angels that it will prevent him from returning before the end of the season.

The star center fielder is putting together a customarily strong campaign, with a .270 average and 24 home runs in 79 games. In spite of that, the Angels entered play Sunday with a 50-64 record, and are set to miss the playoffs for the eighth consecutive season.

Nationals calling up key piece of Juan Soto trade

Dave Martinez looking on

Jul 3, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez (4) looks on during the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals fans will finally get their first look at one of the pieces acquired from the San Diego Padres in the Juan Soto trade.

The Nationals are calling up shortstop C.J. Abrams, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN. Abrams is set to become the second player acquired for Soto to make his debut for the Nationals, following Luke Voit. Abrams, however, is a highly-regarded prospect, while Voit was a veteran included in the deal for salary purposes.

Abrams made his MLB debut for the Padres earlier in 2022, hitting .232 in 46 games. He is highly-regarded as a defensive shortstop with excellent speed, though the consensus is that his bat still needs some more development. The 21-year-old will apparently be getting that chance at the MLB level, at least for the foreseeable future.

The Nationals acquired four other highly-rated prospects in the Soto deal. Nationals fans unhappy with the trade will want to see at least some of them show potential, but Abrams will be getting the first shot at doing so.

Elvis Andrus calls out Athletics over playing time

Elvis Andrus in his Athletics uniform

Jul 23, 2022; Oakland, California, USA; Oakland Athletics shortstop Elvis Andrus (17) before the game against the Texas Rangers at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

Veteran shortstop Elvis Andrus is not happy with how the Oakland Athletics are handling his playing time.

Andrus has found himself on the bench much more frequently for Oakland in recent games, with manager Mark Kotsay publicly discussing giving a longer look at young infielder Nick Allen. Andrus admitted he is aware of the team’s plans, but not happy about them.

“They told me about it, but yeah, I’m super surprised,” Andrus said, via Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Everybody knows I’m an everyday player. So doing this, it’s not fun for me. Especially second half, I feel so good, and I was feeling I was going up, and this stop did not help me personally. But as much as I can do right now is stay healthy and stay prepared and be ready for my time.”

There are other possible reasons the Athletics are cutting back on Andrus’ playing time, even if they are unlikely to admit them publicly. The veteran shortstop is in the final guaranteed year of his contract, but would have a player option worth $15 million on the table if he were to reach 550 plate appearances in 2022.

Andrus was at 376 plate appearances entering play Sunday. Oakland, a franchise notorious for penny-pinching, has the lowest payroll in all of Major League Baseball, so one hardly needs to be an expert to realize that the team would probably like to get Andrus’ salary off the books as soon as possible. The A’s won’t say this, and Andrus probably wouldn’t be doing himself many favors by pointing it out, especially since he agreed to the contract in the first place.

Andrus, a former All-Star, is hitting just .237 on the season, though he has a long career as an everyday shortstop to demonstrate his value. He probably hasn’t done much wrong for Oakland other than have a contract they want to get rid of at the end of the season, and it will cost him playing time in the interim.

Drew Rasmussen has perfect game broken up in 9th inning

Drew Rasmussen nearly throws a perfect game

Drew Rasmussen on Sunday nearly threw Major League Baseball’s first perfect game in a decade, but the bid ended in the top of the ninth inning.

Rasmussen was perfect through eight innings against the Baltimore Orioles when shortstop Jorge Mateo belted a double down the third base line. The hit came on the first pitch of the ninth inning.

Rasmussen had only 79 pitches at the time, so his pitch count was not an issue. He wound up allowing one earned run following a ground ball and wild pitch. The right-hander was then replaced by Jason Adam, who struck out the final two Orioles batters to preserve a 4-1 victory for the Rays. Rasmussen finished with seven strikeouts and allowed only the one hit over 8.1 innings.

There are typically multiple no-hitters per MLB season, but perfect games are a much more rare feat. Monday will mark 10-years since former Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game against — as luck would have it — the Rays.

Rasmussen was just three outs away, but MLB fans will have to keep waiting for the next perfect game.

Phillies have encouraging update on Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper in a headband

Aug 5, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies may be getting a major injury reinforcement back fairly soon based on the information they gave Sunday.

Outfielder Bryce Harper is poised to take batting practice on Monday for the first time since he fractured his thumb in June. Manager Rob Thomson added that the next step after that will be to send Harper on a minor league rehab assignment.

Harper got hurt on a Blake Snell hit-by-pitch at the end of June and has not played since. The Phillies have actually managed to go 25-15 since his injury, so they have done more than enough to stay in the race even without their perennial MVP candidate in the lineup.

Harper was hitting .318 with 15 home runs at the time of the injury. Those numbers were even more impressive considering he had already been battling through another injury at that stage.

Padres lose to Nats after controversial overturned call

Austin Nolan in front of the plate

The San Diego Padres’ bad luck continued on Saturday when they lost after an overturned call did not go their way.

The Padres lost 4-3 to the Washington Nationals after the call went against them in the 7th inning. The Nats had a runner at second with two out in the bottom of the 7th and Victor Robles at the plate. Robles hit a hard ground ball to right field for a single. Juan Soto fielded the ball and threw home to try and get out Caesar Hernandez.

Soto’s throw beat Hernandez, who was tagged out easily. But Washington challenged whether catcher Austin Nola violated the blocking home plate rule. The Nats won the challenge, which gave them the tie-breaking run.

Padres manager Bob Melvin was so upset over the call that home plate umpire Paul Emmel didn’t even have a chance to turn off his mic before addressing Melvin.

Here is another angle that shows Nola blocking the plate until just before he catches the ball:

That run ended up being the difference in the game. Melvin was ejected too.

What adds to the anguish for the Padres and their fans is that this is the second time in under a week they have been negatively impacted by a reviewed call at the plate.

Rays veteran says 1 thing could lead him to leave team

Kevin Kiermaier in Rays uniform

Oct 9, 2020; San Diego, California, USA; Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) reacts after striking out against the New York Yankees during the second inning of game five of the 2020 ALDS at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier has long been a key staple of the franchise, but his status with the team for 2023 is in doubt. While he would like to return, the Gold Glove outfielder admitted one major factor could force him to leave town.

Kiermaier admitted that playing home games on the artificial turf at Tropicana Field is a “big issue” and that playing on grass might be better for his long-term health.

“Part of me is like, would I benefit from playing on grass everyday, maybe,” Kiermaier said Saturday, via Mark Didtler of the Associated Press. “I’ve got so accustomed to everything here. There’s so many pros and cons, way more pros, but the turf that’s definitely a big issue.”

Kiermaier has plenty of reasons to think about his health. The 32-year-old is out for the remainder of the season after undergoing hip surgery. That health issue comes on the heels of arthroscopic knee surgery that he required in the offseason. Ultimately, Kiermaier will end up playing 185 games over the 2021 and 2022 seasons due to his various injuries.

A three-time Gold Glover winner, Kiermaier is known for his range and highlight reel plays — so much so that he’s offered to put himself to work for other star athletes. One can certainly see how his style of play, combined with the artificial turf, could ultimately shorten his career.

Kiermaier has a team option for 2023, though it is likely to be declined. Assuming that is the case, he will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.