“I liked the way all three of them threw the ball [in spring training],” Girardi told reporters Wednesday. “When you look at Archie, he’s a guy that you can ask to give multiple innings — more than three outs — on occasion. He’s comfortable doing it, he’s willing to do it. Alvarado is the lefty that I can deploy against the lefties where they are in the lineup.
“Hector has closed. After a slow start last year, I thought he threw the ball pretty well, and I liked the way he threw the ball this spring.”
Neris pitched in 10 games during spring training, striking out 14 batters and walking none over 9⅔ innings and posting a 3.72 ERA. He was 2-2 with a 4.57 ERA and five saves in 24 relief appearances in 2020, striking out 27 and walking 13 in 21⅔ innings.
Since making his debut with Philadelphia in 2014, Neris is 17-22 with 72 saves and a 3.38 ERA in 331 appearances out of the bullpen.
“He’s done it, he’s done it in this town, and I like the way he’s throwing the baseball,” Girardi said.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Brandon Crawford plays franchise-record 1,326th game at SS for San Francisco Giants
ARLINGTON, Texas — Brandon Crawford played in his 1,326th game at shortstop for the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Travis Jackson for the most in franchise history.
Jackson was a shortstop in 1,325 games for the New York Giants from 1922-36, a mark Crawford matched Sunday in San Francisco’s game against the Chicago Cubs.
When the Giants took the field in the bottom of the first inning at Texas, Crawford was initially sent out by himself. He received a nice ovation when his milestone was announced by Rangers public address announcer Chuck Morgan. Crawford doffed his cap and waved at the crowd.
A two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner, Crawford has played his entire career with the Giants since his big league debut in 2011. It was his 1,357th game overall, and all 1,326 games that he has played defensively have been at shortstop.
There were quite a few Giants fans in the building with San Francisco playing at Texas for the first time since 2015. The last time before that was when wrapping up the 2010 World Series title with a win in Game 5 at the Rangers’ old ballpark across the street.
Pittsburgh Pirates’ Ke’Bryan Hayes had a home run called back for missing first base
Ke’Bryan Hayes homered off Walker Buehler in the first inning of Tuesday’s Los Angeles Dodgers–Pittsburgh Pirates game, giving the Pirates a 1-0 lead against one of the toughest opponents in the league.
Only he didn’t.
See, when Hayes made contact, the home run wasn’t quite a no-doubter, so he was sprinting to first while watching the flight of the ball. That might have contributed to Hayes missing first base — which the Dodgers noticed. L.A. won its appeal, and instead of a 1-0 lead, the Pirates were left with an scoreless tie and an out.
Something you don’t see every day!
— Blake Harris (@BlakeHarrisTBLA) June 8, 2021
After that whole Javier Baez fiasco, it has been a bit of an embarrassing stretch for Pirates baseball. Good news for the future, though: Hayes is a top prospect who is absolutely raking between this season and last year’s .376/.442/.682 slashline in 24 games, so this is likely just a blip in what promises to be a great career.
New York Yankees’ Gerrit Cole on whether he ever used Spider Tack while pitching
Amid a Major League Baseball crackdown on pitcher-friendly foreign substances, New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole struggled to give an answer when asked Tuesday whether he has ever used a particular sticky paste called Spider Tack while on the mound.
“I don’t [long pause] … I don’t know … I don’t quite know how to answer that, to be honest,” Cole said during his videoconference with reporters before the Yankees began a three-game series at Minnesota.
He then paused again before continuing, “There are customs and practices that have been passed down from older players to younger players, from the last generation of players to this generation of players, and I think there are some things that are certainly out of bounds in that regard.
“This is important to a lot of people who love the game, including the players in this room, including fans, including teams, so if MLB wants to legislate some more stuff, that’s a conversation that we can have. Because ultimately we should all be pulling in the same direction on this.”
ESPN’s Buster Olney reported over the weekend that under a plan being swiftly advanced by the league, all MLB pitchers will be checked repeatedly and randomly by umpires for foreign substances, with every starting pitcher likely to be checked at least two times per start. With officials cognizant of having equipment checks slow a sport in which the pace of play is already thought to be too deliberate, pitchers might be checked as they walk off the field at the conclusion of an outing. One management source estimated that there will be eight to 10 random foreign-substance checks per game.
As part of wide-ranging comments last week about the presence of pitcher-friendly sticky stuff, Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson casually wondered aloud whether Cole — whose pitches in his last start weren’t rotating as much — was suddenly trying to hide usage of grip aids — typically a mix of rosin and sunscreen — to avoid being caught amid MLB’s crackdown.
Sidestepping the accusation on Tuesday, Cole said his spin rate dropoff was due to mechanical flaws.
“I attribute it to just not being as good or as sharp as I wanted to be. It’s as simple as that,” Cole said.
According to MLB Statcast data on the website Baseball Savant, Cole had a decrease of 125 rotations per minute on his four-seam fastball last week when he allowed five runs in five innings in a loss to Tampa Bay. Cole, not quite halfway into the second season of a $324 million, nine-year contract, is third in MLB with 104 strikeouts. The three-time All-Star has a 2.26 ERA over 75 2/3 innings and 12 starts this season.
“I’m just not quite bringing out my best delivery. Of course it’s something that we monitor. Of course there are other variables that we monitor as well when we’re evaluating our performance from every game. You try to take as much information as you can as a player, and certainly that’s one of them,” Cole said. “We’re trying to get better this week and put in the work, and I’ll be as prepared as I possibly can for my next start.”
Cole is next scheduled to pitch Wednesday against Donaldson and the Twins.
Four minor league pitchers have been suspended this season by Major League Baseball after being caught using banned foreign substances to doctor baseballs, evidence of a stronger crackdown in the game’s feeder system than in the big leagues during this historically dominant stretch of pitching. The use of homebrewed sticky substances is suspected to have spiked in recent seasons as grip aid to increase the spin rates on fastballs and make those pitches harder to hit.
Donaldson suggested the timing of the news of the minor league suspensions was related to the changes in Cole’s spin rate. Cole called the criticism “undesirable” but declined to respond specifically to the allegation.
“I understand this topic is important to everybody that cares about the game. In regards to Josh, I kind of felt like it was a bit of a low-hanging fruit, but he’s entitled to his opinion and to voice his opinion, so I just have other things that I need to keep my focus on,” Cole said.
Donaldson said Friday that the sticky substance situation is going to be “the next steroids of baseball ordeal” for its performance-enhancing effect on the game.
“Hitters have never really cared about sunscreen, rosin and pine tar. We haven’t cared about that because it’s not a performance enhancement. What these guys are doing now are performance-enhancing, to where it is an actual super glue-type of ordeal, to where it’s not about command anymore,” Donaldson said. “Now, it’s about who’s throwing the nastiest pitches, the more unhittable pitches.”
Said Yankees manager Aaron Boone: “In the end, all that anyone really wants — pitchers, position players, managers — is the best possible product and the most level of playing field that we can create.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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