Such notables as Marcus Stroman, Scooter Gennett and Ray Searage celebrate birthdays today, though one of the most famous fictional ballplayers of all time was also “born” on May 1. Former Red Sox reliever Sam “Mayday” Malone was “born” on this day in 1948, and he posted a 4.01 ERA over 312 2/3 innings for the Red Sox bullpen from 1972-78, as chronicled in a 1993 profile by Sports Illustrated’s Steve Rushin. That’s rather a strong ERA for Malone given his very mediocre career K/BB rate (40 K’s to 109 walks) and, as Rushin notes, his tendency to give up gigantic home runs. Here’s some more from around the real-life baseball world…
- “It was an easy decision” for Denard Span to sign a three-year, $31MM deal with the Giants during the offseason, the outfielder told Bill Ladson of MLB.com. Not only did Span want to play for a contender, the Giants also showed the most interest in his services. Other teams were only offering one- or two-year contracts, with the Nationals among the clubs that wanted to give him only a single-year pact, Span said. The 32-year-old spent 2013-15 with the Nats and accounted for 8.8 fWAR while batting .292/.345/.404. Span entered today’s action hitting a somewhat underwhelming .256/.358/.344 in his first 107 plate appearances as a Giant, but the contact specialist has continued to show great control of the zone with 14 walks against seven strikeouts. Also as part of the Q&A piece, Span tells Ladson that he regrets coming back too quickly from the DL last season, as he wished he’d taken a few more weeks to be fully healthy before returning to action.
- The Astros turned down a trade offer from the Orioles in 2013 that would’ve brought Jake Arrieta to Houston, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com reports. It’s unknown what the O’s wanted back in the deal, though given how Arrieta has emerged as arguably the game’s best pitcher, the Astros may well be kicking themselves over not accepting the deal. The Padres, Twins and Nationals were among the other teams also known to have been interested back when Baltimore was shopping the talented but erratic young righty, and the list is probably a lot longer given how Arrieta was widely known to have excellent stuff. The O’s ended up swapping Arrieta and Pedro Strop to the Cubs in July 2013 for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger.
- The Dodgers face the Rays in a rare interleague matchup this week, with Andrew Friedman returning to Tampa for the first time since leaving the franchise after the 2014 season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times looks back at the five best and five worst moves of Friedman’s nine-year tenure, though Friedman’s overall contribution to the franchise was enormously positive, helping turn the Rays from perennial doormat to regular contender. “Andrew was one of the cornerstones who helped move the organization to where it is today….His impact will be felt here for decades going forward,” Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said.
- It wasn’t until this past offseason that the league required all 30 teams to hire a full-time Spanish translator, a move that struck many around baseball as long overdue given the number of Spanish-speaking players in the game, Maria Guardado of NJ Advance Media writes. While players previously relied on teammates, coaches or team PR personnel to translate for them, a full-time translator is a boon to players who know little or no English in their adjustment to big league life.