Tag:Mike Napoli
Posted on: October 3, 2011 8:59 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 12:51 am
 

Instant Reaction: Rangers 4, Rays 3

Lewis

By Evan Brunell

WP: Colby Lewis

LP: David Price

SV: Neftali Feliz

HR: TEX - Mike Napoli | TB - Desmond Jennings (2)

Series: Rangers lead 2-1 in best-of-5

Hero: Colby Lewis didn't get much in the way of run support until his night was done, but he kept Texas close enough that a four-run explosion in the top of the seventh allowed the Rangers to take the lead and later win the game. That was on the strength of a one-hitter through six innings, punching out six while walking two. He allowed just one run, throwing 62 of 93 pitches for strikes. Lewis' performance the last two postseasons have been nothing short of impressive. As CBSSports.com's Daniel Knobler tweets, "So Colby Lewis, career ERA 4.99, now owns a 1.67 postseason ERA (6 starts)."

Goat: Texas had zero runs until the seventh, then Mike Napoli banged a two-run homer to take the lead in the game. Not ideal for Tampa, but not terrible, as long as they didn't allow any more runs to cross the plate. Except David Price, after getting two quick outs following the blast, gave up a single to Craig Gentry. That led to Brandon Gomes entering the game for the Rays, as manager Joe Maddon hoped he could retire Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus. That didn't happen, as the rookie earns the goat label by giving up walks to each while allowing Gentry to steal his way from first to third. J.P. Howell then relieved, allowing a two-run single by Josh Hamilton before the inning concluded with a 4-1 Rays deficit.

Next: 10/4 at Tampa Bay, 2:07 p.m. ET. Matt Harrison (14-9, 3.39) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.95)

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Rangers-Rays series2011 playoffs

Video: Rangers manager Ron Washington discusses his team's Game 3 win.



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Posted on: September 29, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 2:57 pm
 

2011 ALDS matchup: Rays vs. Rangers

By Evan Brunell

The Rays and Rangers will meet for the second year in a row. Last season, Texas came away with a victory, needing the maximum five games to do so. They would go on to advance to the World Series before losing to the San Francisco Giants. Both teams are in dramatically different places this time around, with the Rays team undergoing turnover while the Rangers' offense is one of the most fearsome in recent memory. Let's break down each team's position and determine who has the advantage....

TEAM INFORMATION

Tampa Bay Rays (host games 3, 4)
91-71, AL wild card champions
Manager: Joe Maddon
Team batting statistics: .244 batting average (25th in AL), .322 on-base percentage (13th), .402 slugging percentage (13th)
Team pitching statistics: 3.58 ERA (8th), 1.22 WHIP (2nd), 2.27 K/BB (2nd)
Star player: SP James Shields -- 16-12, 249 1/3 IP, 2.82 ERA, 3.25 xFIP, 65 BB, 225 K

Texas Rangers (host games 1, 2, 5)
96-66, AL West champions
Manager: Ron Washington
Team batting statistics: .283 batting average (1st), .340 on-base percentage (5th), .460 slugging percentage (2nd)
Team pitching statistics: 3.79 ERA (13th), 1.24 WHIP (5th), 2.56 K/BB (5th)
Star player: C Mike Napoli -- .320/.414/.631, 432 plate appearances, 30 HR, 75 RBI

SCHEDULE (Click here to view the entire postseason schedule)

Full Playoff Coverage

Game 1: TB @ TEX, Sept. 30, 5:07 p.m. -- Matt Moore (1-0, 2.89 ERA) vs. C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94)**
Game 2: TB @ TEX, Oct. 1, 7:07 p.m. -- James Shields (16-12, 2.82) vs. Derek Holland (16-5, 3.95)
Game 3: TEX @ TB, Oct. 3, 5:07 p.m. -- Matt Harrison (14-9, 3.39) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.95)
Game 4*: TB @ TEX, Oct. 4 -- Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40) vs. David Price (12-13, 3.49)
Game 5*: TB @ TEX, Oct. 6 -- James Shields (16-12, 2.82) vs. C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94)

* If necessary | ** all pitching matchups projected

TEAM BREAKDOWN (Click player name for statistics)

Catcher
Texas: Mike Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba
Tampa Bay: John Jaso, Kelly Shoppach

The Rays' catcher situation is like that of shortstop: Choosing between bad or worse. Jaso and Shoppach have both combined for extremely disappointing seasons while Napoli was one of the best offensive players in the game, robbed of his due because his counting statistics aren't up to snuff due to playing in just 113 games, but Napoli can do serious damage. Torrealba isn't a zero either, but most of his value comes on defense.

Advantage: Rangers

First base
Texas: Mitch Moreland, Napoli
Tampa Bay: Casey Kotchman

Kotchman came out of nowhere to give Tampa fantastic value out of first base, hitting at a .306 clip and providing his usual stellar defense at first place. While no one expects Kotchman to keep this up next season, what matters is right now. And right now, Kotchman is head and shoulders better than Moreland, although if Texas goes with Torrealba behind the plate and Napoli at first base, this conversation changes.

Advantage: Rays

Second base
Texas: Ian Kinsler
Tampa Bay: Ben Zobrist

Both Kinsler and Zobrist had excellent seasons -- both at the plate and in the field. Picking one or the other amounts to nitpicking as both players have 30 stolen bases. Zobrist holds a small edge in batting average and Kinsler holds a small one in slugging percentage. Even fielding numbers aren't any help. This is as even as it gets.

Advantage: Tie

Shortstop
Texas: Elvis Andrus
Tampa Bay: Sean Rodriguez, Reid Brignac

As mentioned before, Tampa's shortstop spot is horrible. Between Rodriguez, Reid Brignac and Eliot Johnson, Rays shortstops combined to hit .193/.256/.282. League average was .266/.321/.386. That's simply awful, awful production. The Rangers clearly win out here, with Andrus' solid bat and strong glove.

Advantage: Rangers

Third base
Texas: Adrian Beltre
Tampa Bay: Evan Longoria

Evan Longoria has been one of the best third basemen in the game for a long time. Up until this year, you could have argued that he was the best AL third-baseman for years running. Alas, Beltre's second straight excellent season has supplanted Longoria, coming off a down year. Beltre's 32 homers rank fifth in the AL, and he missed a month and a half! Add in his all-world defense, and he runs away from Longoria even though Longo is still a threat and hit .289/.454/.589 in September.

Advantage: Rangers

Left field
Texas: David Murphy
Tampa Bay: Desmond Jennings

Murphy looked like he would have a lost season, but turned it on down the stretch and forced the Rangers to move Josh Hamilton to center for the playoffs in order to get Murphy's bat in the lineup. It's easy to remember that Jennings debuted with fantastic numbers in August, but September told a very different story. All in all, both players have things working both for and against them and nothing quite standing out.

Advantage: Tie

Center field
Texas: Josh Hamilton
Tampa Bay: B.J. Upton

This is pretty easily Hamilton's domain here after Upton hit just .243. Hamilton remains one of the best players in the game despite being injury-prone. When he's on the field, he produces. Upton can't say the same, although he turned on the jets at the right time for Tampa and had a productive September.

Advantage: Rangers

Right field
Texas: Nelson Cruz
Tampa Bay: Matt Joyce

Here's an interesting matchup. Cruz missed time with injury but when he was right, enjoyed yet another productive season, missing 30 homers by just one blast. Cruz's calling card is power, while Joyce counters with a better overall game, flashing a strong glove. With both players' offensive games basically evening out, the balance tips to defense, and Joyce wins there.

Advantage: Rays

Designated Hitter
Texas: Michael Young, Napoli
Tampa Bay: Johnny Damon

Yet another win for the Rangers on offense. We all know what Napoli can do, but Young figures to get most of the at-bats at DH. Despite Young having to adjust to the DH spot on a full-time basis for the first time in his career, Young coolly racked up 106 RBI and should get some MVP attention. Damon, by comparison, falls far short.

Advantage: Rangers

Starting pitching
Texas: C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis
Tampa Bay: Jeff Niemann, James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson

The Rays win here, although Rangers fans will probably beg to differ. Yes, Wilson had a fantastic season -- you can't take that away from him. But Shields, Price and Hellickson all had excellent years as well. No one's shorting Holland and Harrison here, but at best, these two pitchers are no better than fifth best overall with three of the first four spots belonging to Tampa. The Rays are in the postseason for their pitching, not their offense.

Advantage: Rays

Relief pitching
Texas closer: Neftali Feliz
Tampa Bay closer: Kyle Farnsworth

Feliz's future as a closer was in doubt even as late as early August, but he clamped down the rest of the way and will pair with Mike Adams for a formidable 1-2 punch. There isn't a soft underbelly of middle relief either, and this bullpen has the potential to pick up the slack left over from the starting rotation to beat Tampa. But the Rays have taken a completely remade bullpen and turned it into an elite corps, too. Tampa's relief ERA of 3.73 is 10 spots higher than Texas' 4.11, but Texas' bullpen is different after importing Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez. Let's call it even.

Advantage: Tie

Total advantage: Rangers (5), Rays (2), Tie (3)

PREDICTION (click here to see full postseason predictions)

CBS Experts
Evan Brunell: Rays in 4
Gregg Doyel: Rays in 4
Danny Knobler: Rangers in 5
Scott Miller: Rangers in 4
Trent Rosecrans: Rangers in 4
Matt Snyder: Rays in 5

Evan's take: The Rangers are a fearsome club, there's no doubt about that. The offense is awe-inspiring and the pitching has the ability to hang tough with Tampa Bay. The Rangers basically cruised to the division title in September, so it's easy to overlook the club because of lack of press, but those who overlook the club are making a mistake. I selected the Rays in four because in the postseason, I believe far more in pitching than offense. I also give credence to how teams played down the stretch. Tampa went 17-10 in September (of course, Texas went 19-8, so there's that) and was in playoff mode for two weeks, constantly playing must-win games then seeing it all pay off when Evan Longoria's second homer of the night went over the fence to give T.B. the wild card. The combination of pitching and the hot hand tilt me toward predicting the Rays to advance.

More Rangers-Rays ALDS coverage

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Posted on: September 29, 2011 1:31 pm
 

Players of the Month: Beltre, Fister

Fister, Beltre

By Evan Brunell

September brought a dazzling postseason race that culminated in perhaps baseball's greatest final day of the season. Interestingly enough, however, there were only two of a possible 12 nominees for September player of the month that had any involvement in the race to the wire. As far as individual performances went, September belonged to two teams who had the division title in hand much of the month.

September's Best
Expert Batter Pitcher
Knobler Cabrera Fister
Miller Beltre Fister
Brunell Napoli Fister
Rosecrans Longoria Carpenter
Snyder Beltre Fister
Fantasy Kinsler Fister

Texas had an incredible offensive explosion, with three separate players garnering votes. Adrian Beltre, who finished fifth in the AL with 32 home runs, eked out a victory over his teammates along with Miguel Cabrera and Evan Longoria. Beltre hit .374/.385/.778, driving 12 homers out of the park after missing all of August and part of July with injury. Imagine how many homers Beltre might have had if he stayed healthy.

Teammates Napoli and Kinsler also had months to remember, the second baseman swinging to the tune of .330/.421/.711, blasting 11 homers, just one behind Beltre. He also swiped eight bags, two more than any other month to finish with 30 stolen bases and give Kinsler a 30/30 season. Napoli blew Beltre and Kinsler out of the water statistically, although he played in in a handful of less games thanks to being a catcher and having people blocking him at DH and first base. But Napoli went bonkers for a .429/.518/.843 line.

Meanwhile, Evan Longoria put the Rays in the playoffs and Miguel Cabrera solidified the offense behind the pitcher of the month in Doug Fister. Acquired from the Mariners at the trade deadline, Fister blew away the competition in September and showed that he was for real. After coming up as nothing more than a back-of-the-rotation starter thanks to solid command but no true out pitch, he emerged with Detroit as a potential ace. Fister's 0.5 ERA in September paced the field, and he was a perfect 5-0, throwing 34 innings and allowing just 15 hits and three walks.

Past players of the month: April | May | June | July | August

Batter of the Month
Danny Knobler Scott Miller
CabreraMiguel Cabrera, Tigers
I read somewhere that Cabrera said Justin Verlander was the MVP. I'll go with that, but if there's an MVP for September, it's got to be Cabrera, who hit .429 and drove in 21 runs, with a 1.290 OPS. He hit, and the Tigers took off.
BeltreAdrian Beltre, Rangers
Not only did Beltre step off of the DL in the month of September and ease Texas' October concerns, he did it with incredible aplomb. Aside from playing his usual great third base, Beltre slugged 12 homers, collected 29 RBI and had an astounding 1.162 OPS. Thanks to his glove and his bat, the Rangers clinched home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Evan Brunell C. Trent Rosecrans
NapoliMike Napoli, Rangers
Napoli struggled to break through with the Angels, then finally forced the Rangers' hand. And yet, he still goes unnoticed despite leading all batters in September in slugging percentage (.843), tied for first in average (.429) and second in OBP (.518). Only one word for this performance: Beast.
LongoriaEvan Longoria, Rays
Am I putting too much on Wednesday night's performance? Perhaps, but he still had an incredible month as the Rays rallied over the last month of the season from nine games behind the Red Sox when the month started. Longoria hit .289/.454/.589 over the last month with seven homers and 22 RBI, including two big homers in the biggest game of the year.
Matt Snyder Fantasy -- Scott White
 BeltreAdrian Beltre, Rangers
The Rangers have been under the radar this month because they were expected to win the West, didn't have a huge comeback and won last year. But two of the best players in baseball this past month came from Texas and they weren't named Michael Young. Ian Kinsler loses out by a nod here, as Beltre hit 12 homers, drove home 28 and had a .374/.385/.778 line.
KinslerIan Kinsler, Rangers
Kinsler's .330 batting average wasn't the highest for a batter in September, but that's the way his entire season has gone. The .255 hitter is so valuable in so many other ways that he's clearly among the cream of the crop, and never was it more evident than in September. He had 16 walks, 11 homers and eight steals, and the latter two propelled him to a 30-30 season.
Pitcher of the Month
Knobler Miller
FisterDoug Fister, Tigers
The Red Sox got Erik Bedard. The Tigers got Fister. The Red Sox are going home. The Tigers aren't. Fister was 5-0 in September, with a 0.53 ERA. Red Sox starters were 4-11 with a 7.08 ERA. Fister allowed just 18 base runners in 34 innings, with 34 strikeouts.
FisterDoug Fister, Tigers
I watched Fister pitch down the stretch after Detroit acquired him from Seattle at the July 31 trade deadline and I felt like I was watching Doyle Alexander in 1987. Fister is taller (6-8), but man, was he nails after the trade. He went 5-0 in September with 34 strikeouts and three walks. He compiled an 0.53 WHIP. As long as the Tigers didn't give Seattle a future John Smoltz (they didn't), this is the best trade any contender made.
Brunell Rosecrans
FisterDoug Fister, Tigers
What else can be said that my fine colleagues already hasn't? Fister's September was so awe-inspiring, no one blinks twice when his name gets slotted behind Verlander at No. 2. in the postseason rotation. This guy was a No. 4/5 starter last year. How quickly things change.
CarpenterChris Carpenter, Cardinals
Carpenter went 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in six starts in September. He also had two shutouts, as well as a scoreless eight-inning appearance against the Phillies. Like Longoria, he had a pretty good night on Wednesday, allowing just two hits to the Astros in his shutout at Minute Maid Park. September's all about raising to the occasion, and that's what Carpenter did.
Snyder Fantasy -- White
FisterDoug Fister, Tigers
The Tigers' rotation isn't a one-man show. Justin Verlander is going to take home the Cy Young in a rightful landslide, but Fister gives them a solid No. 2. He was 5-0 with a 0.53 ERA and a 34/3 K/BB rate in 34 innings. Many pitchers had great months, but Fister's symbolized how great the Tigers' chances to reach the World Series have become.
 FisterDoug Fister, Tigers
It sounds like a joke, but it's not. Fister was the most valuable pitcher for Fantasy owners in September. Was Javier Vazquez slightly better? Yes. But the disparity between expectations and results for Fister was so high that he's now forever part of Fantasy lore. He managed to win more games (five) than he started (four) and allowed only 18 baserunners in 34 innings. He was an out-of-nowhere ace.

Danny Knobler and Scott Miller are Senior MLB Writers; Evan Brunell, C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder are Eye on Baseball Bloggers; Scott White is a Fantasy Writer.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 24, 2011 6:20 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 6:21 pm
 

Wilson to start Game 1 of ALDS for Texas

C.J. WilsonBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Not that there was much of a question, but Rangers manager Ron Washington made it official on Saturday, announcing that C.J. Wilson would start Game 1 of the American League Divisional Series, no matter who the Rangers face in the first round of the playoffs.

Washington didn't announce the rest of his rotation, but the Rangers currently have Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison following the left-hander.

The Rangers will keep Wilson in the rotation and have him start Monday against the Angels, but plan on cutting his putting short so that he can start Game 1 on three days' rest on Friday in the start of the playoffs.

Wilson had a blister pop up on the middle finger of his left hand in his last start, Wednesday against Oakland, but he told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com that his finger is "completely healed." A blister forced him from Game 2 of the World Series last year, his lone start in the World Series. Wilson went 1-2 with a 3.70 ERA in four playoff starts last season. The Rangers, of course, had Cliff Lee as their top starter a year ago.

Washington also said he would keep eight relievers on his playoff roster, meaning he'll take just two catchers, Yorvit Torrealba and Mike Napoli, leaving Matt Treanor at home.

Texas enters Saturday's game tied with Detroit for the second-best record in the American League. Whichever team finishes with the worse record will open the ALDS in New York against the Yankees.

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Posted on: August 23, 2011 1:57 am
Edited on: August 23, 2011 7:38 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Napoli, Wilson do in Red Sox

Mike Napoli

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Mike Napoli and C.J. Wilson, Rangers: These two love to play against the Red Sox. Napoli has homered in each of his last four games against Boston, including a three-run shot in Monday's 4-0 victory over Boston. Wilson started for the Rangers, allowing just four hits over 6 2/3 innings, striking out four with Koji Uehara, Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz not allowing a hit over the rest of the night to cement Wilson's 13 win of the season. Wilson is now 4-0 with a 1.62 ERA in five starts against the Red Sox.

Cliff Lee, Phillies: Lee improved to 4-0 in August with just two earned runs with 32 strikeouts in 31 innings this month, which is just his second-best month of the season after a 5-0 June, allowing just one inning. On Monday, he threw seven shutout innings, giving up three hits. His seven strikeouts gave him 191 for the season, setting a career-high in Ks with a month left to go in the season. Last season he struck out 185, his previous best.

Dan Uggla, Braves: Much has been made this season of Dan Uggla's struggles at the plate -- and it's true, his average stats are down -- he's hitting .232/.300/.461 -- each at least 25 points lower than his career numbers in those stats. However, he hit his 30th home run of the season, marking the fifth straight year he's accomplished the feat. No other second baseman in history has had more than three 30-homer seasons. Uggla seems to be on track to set a career-high in homers, his previous best was last season when he hit 33.  He has 184 home runs in his six years in the big leagues.


Mike Quade, Cubs: Quade did the right thing benching shortstop Starlin Castro for Monday's game after his mental lapse was caught on camera during Sunday's game against St. Louis. But Quade didn't come out and say he benched him for the incident, instead he went with the "mental day" excuse. With Quade's future as the Cubs' skipper in doubt, he could have sent a message -- and he inadvertently did, a message of weakness.

Tony La Russa, Cardinals: Classic La Russa overmanaging struck again on Monday -- as La Russa took out starter Chris Carpenter with 99 pitches after Carpenter opened the ninth inning by hitting Juan Rivera. La Russa brought in left-hander Arthur Rhodes to face Andre Ethier and Rhodes responded by striking him out. But then he took out Rhodes in favor of the right-handed Fernando Salas to face switch-hitting Aaron Miles, whose career stats are more or less even from each side of the plate. Miles tripled to tie the game and then scored on a fielder's choice in the infield, giving Los Angeles a 2-1 victory in St. Louis.

Chris Perez, Indians: We'll just let Perez speak for himself here:

The Indians closer took the loss, hitting the first two batters of the inning, picking up an error and walking another. He gave up the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Franklin Gutierrez. With Cleveland's loss and Detroit's win, the Indians are now tied with the White Sox for second in the AL Central, 5 1/2 games behind the Tigers.

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Posted on: August 19, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2011 4:26 pm
 

Jered Weaver objects to a homer, again

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Is Jered Weaver a jerk or just not really funny?

Check this out from last night's game:

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, after Mike Napoli rounded the bases, "Weaver was barking something toward the Rangers' dugout intended for Napoli."

Now, Take another look at the homer. Does Napoli hustle out of the box? No. But you don't have to when you hit it that hard. There's no bat flip, no prolonged trot, not even a glance at Weaver. Still, Weaver was upset.

After the game, Napoli said he noticed, saying to reporters, "What? You can't hit homers off him now?"

Weaver, though, said it was a joke -- even though it didn't see funny to anyone at the time (or really afterward).

"I don't know what you're talking about," Weaver told reporters, including Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. "The guy's a friend of mine. Pretty much joking more than anything."

Apparently it didn't seem like a joke to Napoli, a former Angel. Keep in mind, Weaver had a little problem with the way the Tigers reacted a couple of weeks ago to a homer and took matters into his own hands and served a six-game suspension after hitting Alex Avila to protest Carlos Guillen's homer.

Guillen's homer, of course, was a little different -- I'll give Weaver that. (And post it, just because I'm still amazed at just how much Guillen admired this shot.)

Weaver, at least, didn't hit David Murphy, the next batter after Napoli's homer. Nobody likes not doing well at their job -- and Weaver pitched masterfully except for that one pitch -- but it's no reason to be a jerk. Weaver's always had the reputation of being, well, difficult. But getting mad at Napoli for simply doing his job is going over the line, and frankly, this act is getting old.

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Posted on: July 28, 2011 9:53 am
 

Pepper: Pirates' pursuit of Beltran a positive

PNC Park

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos Beltran refused a deal that would send him to the Pirates, but just the fact that I can write that is pretty darn cool. Yep, the Pittsburgh Pirates were seeking a rental player at the deadline from the New York Mets.

Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported the Pirates had made an "aggressive push" to get Beltran and were willing to pick up the $6.5 million left on his contract for this season.

Beltran's now with the defending champs and that's probably the best fit for him, which is the beauty of having a no-trade clause. Instead of finishing the season in Pittsburgh, he'll be in San Francisco, good for Beltran.

But it's also a sign of where the Pirates are and how they're planning on trying to win now. Last year we heard about the Pirates hoarding their luxury tax disbursement, this year we're hearing about them trying to improve.

Is it a new world order? Maybe not, but it is an indication that the Pirates' ownership is behind its team and serious about a winner. It also may end up helping the Pirates, who don't give up young talent and can contend for more years with a player that could develop into something special. Even if Beltran had accepted a trade to Pittsburgh, he wouldn't have stayed.

The Pirates have shown their commitment and that's something that was needed after last year's fiasco.

What to expect in Toronto: The folks at the Hardball Times take a look at what to expect from Colby Rasmus in Toronto. The move from Busch Stadium to the Rogers Center should help his power numbers a little bit, but not as much as it would if he were a right-hander. Meanwhile Rasmus' new manager said he'll play every day, replacing Rajai Davis. [The Globe and Mail]

La Liar?: Rasmus' father, Tony, says Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is incorrect in his assertion that his son was listening to him instead of his coaches. Rasmus said La Russa is "made that stuff up" and bullied general manager John Mozeliak into trading Rasmus for pitching. "Tony would like to have 25 pitchers," Tony Rasmus told the Toronto Sun, "like he thinks he has to put his stamp on every ball game. They had nothing else to trade. I think everyone is better off now." In a TV interview, Colby Rasmus was asked about his relationship with La Russa after the trade and the younger Rasmus said, "I hope he's happy." Tony Rasmus said La Rusa blames Rasmus for leading to Walt Jocketty leaving the Cardinals.

Winner, loser: Jeff Passan of Yahoo! says the two big deals on Wednesday showed the way to make deadline deals and the way not to make deadline deals. Let's just say the defending champs are doing something right, while another team panicked.

Oswalt strong in rehab start: Phillies right-hander Roy Oswalt allowed just one hit in four innings for Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Wednesday. Oswalt said after the start that he would probably need at least one, if not two more rehab starts before he's ready to re-join the Phillies rotation. [Delaware County Times]

Washington wants 'fire': Rangers closer Neftali Feliz can bring the heat, but his manager Ron Washington wants to see more "fire" from him on the mound. Washington said he doesn't see the urgency from his closer. Feliz has blown five saves this season after blowing just three last year. His strikeout rate is also down from a year ago. [MLB.com]

Wily Mo's back: The Mariners -- a team desperate for offense -- has signed outfielder/DH Wily Mo Pena to a minor-league contract on Wednesday. Pena hit five homers in 17 games for the Diamondbacks. Pena is expected to start at Triple-A Tacoma. [MLB.com]

Left is right: It's never a good thing for a pitcher to hear he'll have to undergo surgery to repair a loose capsule and torn labrum in his shoulder, but for Padres' right-hander Dustin Mosley, at least the surgery he'll undergo this offseason will be in his left shoulder. Mosley said he's hurt the shoulder twice this season and one more time earlier in his career, all while batting. Moseley may have to swing one-handed, bat left-handed or just bunt a whole lot more to keep his shoulder from popping out of joint when he swings. [North County Times]

Replay resistance: Dodgers manager Don Mattingly saw the play in Atlanta Tuesday night, but he's still not in favor of expanding replay. Mattingly's two issues -- the time and the human element. My response would be the time could be helped with technology and a dedicated umpire off the field for replay and the human factor isn't as important as the correct call factor. [MLB.com]

Papi's milestone: David Ortiz's grand slam on Wednesday gave him 1,000 career RBI with the Red Sox, just the sixth player to achieve that feat in Boston. He joins Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans and Bobby Doerr -- not bad company. [Boston Herald]

Stability behind the plate helps Rangers: Having the same catchers all season -- Yorvit Torrealba and Mike Napoli -- has helped Rangers pitchers. Torrealba has started 71 games behind the plate this season. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

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Posted on: May 29, 2011 10:02 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2011 10:05 pm
 

Royals Pena says fear didn't back him up

Brayan Pena

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Royals catcher Brayan Pena said he made a mistake at the end of Sunday's loss to the Rangers, but it had nothing to do with fear or Buster Posey or anything like that, it was a simple mistake of not knowing exactly where he was.

"I know you have to ask that question, but no," Pena told reporters, including the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton, when asked if he had tried to avoid contact on the play. "That's part of my job -- to go out there and get hit. I just really thought I had home plate blocked. But I guess not."

After Nelson Cruz led off the ninth inning with a homer to tie the game, Napoli singled. And with two outs and Napoli still on first, Elvis Andrus singled to right and Rangers third base coach Dave Anderson waved him home.

First baseman Eric Hosmer's relay throw was in plenty of time to get Napoli, who was barreling in on Pena, who then took a step back off the plate, appearing to brace for impact. Napoli slid and Pena tagged him on the chest after his foot touched the plate -- and give a ton of credit to home plate umpire Mike Eastbrook, who made a difficult call correctly at the plate.

Pena slammed the ball down after the call and argued he made the tag -- and it was obvious he thought he did at the time. But then, after the game, he saw the video. See the video here.

"I could tell he was safe," Pena said. "Everything was perfect, too. The guys did a great relay. Hosmer threw a perfect strike. It was on me."

The question, even with hindsight, was there a decision on a subconscious level to take a step back, to brace himself for contact or to try to avoid being injured like Posey? If so, it's natural, but still one that's sure to be frowned up by teammates and fans alike.

As for the Rangers side of the story, remember Anderson was criticized for his decision to send Josh Hamilton home on a pop up last month, which resulted not only in an out, but in an injury to the reigning American League MVP.

"Sometimes you have to be aggressive out there and take chances," Anderson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "How the game was going on, something crazy was going to happen to have this game over with. With two outs, you take a chance."

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