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#pounditThursday, August 13, 2020

Baseball

Video: Zack Greinke tells hitter what pitch is coming, strikes him out

Zack Greinke has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for years, and his stuff remains as good as ever. So good, in fact, that the Houston Astros star can tell a hitter what’s coming and still blow the ball by him.

Greinke and Astros catcher Martin Maldonado got a bit crossed up with their signs at one point during Wednesday night’s game against the San Francisco Giants. You could clearly hear Greinke shouting the signs at Maldonado and saying “second sign after one” and “second sign after two.”

The call-outs were a lot easier to hear with no fans in the ballpark, but Greinke wanted to be sure Giants infielder Mauricio Dubon knew what was coming. The right-hander literally flashed a “two” sign during Dubon’s at-bat and then struck him out with a nasty slider.

Greinke has always marched to the beat of his own drum, and we saw a great example of that with his reason for reporting late to spring training earlier this year. It didn’t seem like he was trying to embarrass Dubon, but that was the result. When your slider has that much bite, it really doesn’t matter if the hitter knows it’s coming.

Mike Clevinger also went out with Zach Plesac, now quarantining

Mike Clevinger

The Cleveland Indians are now having to quarantine a second member of their pitching staff for breaking health and safety protocols.

The team released a statement on Monday revealing that right-hander Mike Clevinger violated team rules during their weekend roadtrip to Chicago and has been instructed to quarantine. Clevinger will now miss his scheduled start on Tuesday against the Cubs back in Cleveland.

Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that Clevinger went out with teammate Zach Plesac on Saturday night and then flew with the Indians on Sunday. Plesac did not travel with the team, having been sent home via car service on Sunday after his participation in the excursion was discovered.

The Clevinger news is especially troublesome since he, unlike Plesac, had direct contact with the team’s traveling party after the outing. Multiple MLB clubs, including the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals have already suffered outbreaks, so the Indians will obviously take this matter seriously.

Zach Plesac thinks his media portrayal has been unfair

Zach Plesac is offering his side of the story amid the incident that led to his being sent home for a violation of health and safety protocols.

The Cleveland Indians righty took to Instagram on Thursday in an attempt to set the record straight. Plesac admitted that he broke curfew when he went out to dinner and hung out with friends in Chicago but said that he practiced safe distancing. The 25-year-old added that his actions were not malicious and that he thought his portrayal in the media has been unfair, per AP’s Tom Withers.

Here is Plesac’s full six-and-a-half minute video:

Plesac was not allowed to fly home with the team after the excursion was discovered, and his decision to go out reportedly angered teammates and club officials. It was later found out that Indians teammate Mike Clevinger had gone out with Plesac as well, and he was also sent away to quarantine.

You can’t blame the Indians for taking the protocol violations seriously, but Plesac clearly feels that the portrayals of him as a bad teammate and an irresponsible person are very far off-base.

Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres reportedly talking contract extension

Fernando Tatis Jr

Fernando Tatis Jr. has come on like a star in his first two seasons in the league, and the San Diego Padres would likely want to lock him up as long as possible. The two sides may even be working towards that outcome.

Tatis’ father, Fernando Tatis, says that his son and the team have had conversations about an extension, according to Luis Morales. The elder Tatis also says that he thinks a long-term contract will happen soon.

Tatis Jr. suffered a back injury that limited him to 84 games last season. He still batted .317/.379/.590 with a .969 OPS during that time.

This year, the 21-year-old shortstop is putting up crazy numbers. He is batting .333/.417/.810 with a 1.226 OPS. He already has eight home runs in 16 games, which is incredible. The Padres probably would want to have him under contract for as long as possible, before he starts putting up even more ridiculous numbers.

Reports: MLB considering bubble for postseason

Rob Manfred

The “bubble” setups of the NHL and NBA have worked successfully so far, and MLB would like to follow their lead if possible in order to give the postseason a best chance of taking place uninterrupted, according to reports.

Both the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin and ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported on Monday that MLB is considering a bubble for the postseason. Such a bubble scenario would limit travel and possibly restrict player movement, which would give a higher chance of a successful postseason.

Though MLB originally considered the possibility of a bubble, the logistics were difficult to pull off due to the amount of people who would need to be involved, which is much more compared to the amount of players on an NHL or NBA roster. Additionally, many top players like Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw voiced opposition to being in a bubble away from their family for an extended period of time and seemingly rejected the idea.

But MLB has seen what has happened when COVID-19 outbreaks hit the Miami Marlins, who did not play for eight days, and the St. Louis Cardinals, who have not played since July, and recognizes an outbreak in the postseason would be highly problematic.

Passan says a bubble could take place in Southern California where there are two MLB stadiums nearby (Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Angel Stadium 30 miles away in Anaheim). NL teams could stay in one LA hotel and play at Dodger Stadium, while AL teams do the same in Orange County and play at Angel Stadium. Petco Park could even be used if needed for the first round of the playoffs since there would be eight series taking place and host two of the series. The other advantage of Southern California is that the weather likely would be nice enough for baseball to be played, and it could limit the spread of the virus.

Other regions could also be considered for this kind of setup, such as New York and Chicago, which both have two MLB teams.

MLB hands down suspensions from fight between A’s, Astros

Astros As fight

Major League Baseball on Tuesday handed down disciplinary action stemming from Sunday’s altercation between the Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros, and it was a coach who received by far the harshest penalty.

A’s outfielder Ramon Laureano, who went after the Houston dugout after he was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game, has been suspended for six games. Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron was hit with a 20-game suspension, according to multiple reports.

Laureano abruptly charged at the Astros dugout after being hit by a pitch in the 7th inning. He later revealed that Cintron instigated the altercation by making a derogatory remark about his mother, and it seems as though MLB confirmed Laureano’s account.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today notes that Cintron’s suspension is the largest ever levied against an MLB bench coach.

Giancarlo Stanton could miss up to a month with hamstring injury

It’s looking like another injury-hit season for Giancarlo Stanton.

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone announced Tuesday that Stanton is suffering from a Grade 1 hamstring strain, and will likely be out for 3-to-4 weeks.

Once again, Stanton won’t get a full season in. After playing in 158 games in his first year in New York, various injuries limited him to just 18 appearances in 2019. He also had calf trouble during spring training. Now, missing nearly a month of an already shortened season will be a fairly significant blow for both Stanton and the Yankees.

Making matters worse is the fact that Stanton was off to a fairly strong start to 2020. The 30-year-old is hitting .293 with 3 home runs in 14 games. The good news is, barring any setbacks, the Yankees should have him back well in advance of the postseason.