Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi lost a no-hitter in the seventh inning Wednesday after Nomar Mazara beat the Yankees’ infield shift with a ball that would’ve been scooped up by a more traditional defensive alignment, but general manager Brian Cashman tells John Harper of the New York Daily News that he’s a steadfast believer in infield shifts. Cashman is dismissive of the the notion of abandoning infield shifts, likening the decision not to use them to playing hunches at the blackjack table. “It’d be like sitting next to the guy who’s hitting on 19,” said Cashman. “You’d be like, ’dude, what are you doing?'” Cashman tells Harper that the Yankees have their own independent definitions for what constitutes a shift and adds that in some instances, the data can point to an 85 percent (or higher) likelihood of a ball being hit to a certain side of the field. “If a guy beats you on a 13 percent tendency, you tip your hat,” says the GM. Regardless of the results of that single batted ball, New York has to be pleased with what it’s seen from Eovaldi thus far. He’s running a 10.2 K/9 strikeout rate against just 1.8 BB/9, and his unexciting earned run average (4.38) has likely suffered in large part due to a somewhat unlucky 16.0% HR/FB rate.
Here’s more from the AL East:
- Blue Jays head trainer George Poulis provided a number of medical updates on injured players, writes MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. Notably, Poulis said that second baseman Devon Travis, recovering from shoulder surgery, will begin taking at-bats in extended Spring Training games, though he’s not yet ready to play in the field. Travis, 25, underwent shoulder surgery in mid-November that was said to come with a 16- to- 20-week recovery period. It’s already been 23 weeks since his operation, so his rehab has apparently been slower than expected, but a return to taking at-bats in a game setting is nonetheless a positive first step. Poulis also provided updates on Franklin Morales, Aaron Loup, Bo Schultz and some others that have day-to-day maladies.
- Red Sox third baseman Travis Shaw is not only impressing on the stat sheet, he’s making believers of his teammates, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes. He’s not alone in that regard, either. Per GM Mike Hazen, the team’s younger players have “done a very good job of ingratiating themselves by understanding the game, knowing that they have to play hard day-in, day-out — and that’s what the veterans respect and expect day-in, day-out — and keeping their mouth shut and going about it until they earn their stripes.” It doesn’t hurt, of course, that Boston has several quality young performers, and Shaw is the latest. He is off to a .329/.410/.548 slash in 83 plate appearances, though a .423 BABIP likely reflects not only solid contact but also some good fortune.
- Of course, Shaw improbably beat out Pablo Sandoval for the Red Sox’ starting third base job this spring, and the Panda has since gone onto the DL with a still-mysterious shoulder ailment. Rob Bradford of WEEI.com has the latest on his situation, including several notes about his original signing with Boston. Bradford notes that the Sox do not have any weight target requirement in place for Sandoval, and adds that the club has “been encouraged by his approach — and results — the last two weeks.”