Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters yesterday that Triple-A manager Wally Backman resigned from his post to pursue Major League coaching opportunities, but Newsday’s Marc Carig cites anonymous sources in reporting that Backman was actually fired from his position. Carig writes that there was a “pattern of defiance by Backman,” who made many player development choices that Alderson and the front office didn’t support. Namely, Backman continually sat Michael Conforto against left-handed pitching and didn’t bat Gavin Cecchini or Kevin Plawecki high enough in his batting order to afford them as many opportunities for at-bats as the Mets would’ve liked.
Here’s more from the National League East…
- Phillies manager Pete Mackanin is strongly in favor of his front office pursuing a pair of impact bats for the middle of the order and re-signing Jeremy Hellickson this winter, he tells Ryan Lawrence of PhillyVoice.com. While the notion that a Major League manager hopes to have an improved Major League roster in the upcoming season isn’t exactly a stunning development, Mackanin did seem to imply that there’s a preference on his part to focus on the lineup more than the pitching staff. Mackanin praised Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Zach Eflin and Jake Thompson by name, and the Phillies of course also have an exciting young righty in the form of Vince Velasquez as well. Hellickson, in theory, could displace Eflin or Thompson — the two least-experienced arms of the bunch — if he were to be re-signed. As for the lineup, Mackanin stated: “No question about it, I’d like to get two professional hitters. As many as I can. I think it takes pressure off the young guys. When you have [Tommy] Joseph, [Cameron] Rupp and even [Maikel] Franco in the middle of your lineup to produce runs, that’s tough to do. Your first year in the big leagues is tough. To be called upon to be the run producer is tough.”
- While A.J. Pierzynski’s career has been polarizing, to put it mildly, his presence on the Braves drew positive reviews from members of the coaching staff and teammates, writes David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I loved every moment that he was here, and I love A.J.,” said first base coach Eddie Perez. “You probably won’t hear that from many people, but I did. And you know why? Because he goes between the two lines and gives you everything to win games.” Right-hander Matt Wisler acknowledged that Pierzynski was hard on the young pitching staff at times, but feels that it was to their benefit. “I don’t mind it, I think if somebody gets on me like that sometimes I kind of need it,” Wisler explained. “Especially for me, because I kind of over-think, and when he gets on you I kind of forget about it and just go back to making pitches. He helped me in that regard.”
- Mike Foltynewicz escaped an injury scare relatively unscathed last night, as MLB.com’s Pat James writes. The young Braves righty was struck in the leg by a line drive off the bat of Marcell Ozuna (which Statcast measured at 110 mph), but has only a contusion and some swelling to show following the ill-placed line drive. Foltynewicz walked off the field under his own power but was eventually forced to utilize crutches to move around the clubhouse as the swelling in his leg intensified. He’s day to day for the time being.