It was on this day in 1939 that the Yankees hosted a “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day” ceremony between games of a doubleheader with the Washington Senators. Gehrig had officially retired two weeks earlier, just after his ALS diagnosis had been made public. Gehrig received many emotional tributes from city officials, teammates and former manager Joe McCarthy, plus he became the first player in Major League history to have a uniform number retired. The most iconic moment, of course, was Gehrig’s own speech, in which he described himself as “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
Here’s the latest from around the AL East…
- The Red Sox demoted Christian Vazquez to Triple-A and activated Ryan Hanigan off the 15-day DL today. Despite good defensive numbers, Vazquez looked overmatched at the plate, hitting just .226/.278/.305 over 176 PA. While the demotion wasn’t unexpected, the surprising element to the move is that unheralded veteran Sandy Leon has forced his way into regular starts. Leon collected four more hits today and is now batting .500/.556/.775 over 45 plate appearances for Boston this season. Since regression is inevitable for Leon, the Sox could look for catching help at the deadline.
- Manager John Farrell described the Red Sox to reporters (including WEEI.com’s Ryan Hannable) as “a good team despite obvious areas of need.” Farrell cited pitching and perhaps a right-handed hitting infielder as those areas of need. Brock Holt and Marco Hernandez (both left-handed bats) are Boston’s primary backup infielders, and struggling third baseman Travis Shaw also swings from the left side.
- The Orioles are hopeful that Darren O’Day can return after the All-Star break, manager Buck Showalter told reporters (including Rich Dubroff of CSNMidAtlantic.com) today. The reliever was enjoying another solid season out of the Orioles bullpen before suffering a hamstring strain that has kept hm out of action for over a month. O’Day is making good progress, Showalter said, and a simulated game and rehab assignment could begin next week.
- The Orioles and Blue Jays have both had talent evaluators watching the Twins recently, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.
- The Blue Jays often talk about Aaron Sanchez’s role, and manager John Gibbons told reporters (including Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith) that he still thinks Sanchez will be shifted to the bullpen at some point this season. Toronto has held to this plan since Spring Training in order to keep Sanchez’s innings in check, though the young righty has emerged as the ace of the Jays rotation. After eight innings of one-run ball against the Royals tonight, Sanchez now has a 2.94 ERA, 56.7% grounder rate and 7.86 K/9 through 113 1/3 frames this season. Sanchez’s previous career high is 133 1/3 (in both minor league and MLB innings) in 2014.
- Marco Estrada received at least four cortisone shots in his bad back today, and the Blue Jays are hopeful he can make his scheduled start on Thursday, Sportsnet’s Arden Zwelling writes. This the second time Estrada has been hampered by back problems this season, as an early-season DL stint cost him his first start of the year though similar cortisone treatments helped correct those issues. It’s also possible the Jays could start Drew Hutchison on Thursday and give Estrada an extended rest through the All-Star break.