It was on this day 82 years ago that the Yankees released franchise icon Babe Ruth, who immediately signed a $20K contract to join the Boston Braves for the 1935 season. Over 2084 games and 9199 plate appearances in a Yankee uniform, Ruth hit an astounding .349/.484/.711 with 659 home runs, literally transforming the sport of baseball along the way. Even in 1934, battling a number of injuries in his age-39 season, Ruth still posted a .985 OPS and 22 homers over 472 PA. Ruth played just 28 games for the Braves in 1935 before ending his incomparable career. Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Michael Bourn is expected to miss four weeks recovering from a broken finger, which MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko notes could actually help the Orioles’ chances of keeping Bourn in the organization. Bourn’s minor league deal with the O’s contained an opt-out date for March 27, so given his current injury timeline, he won’t have much chance to play before making his decision.
- The early word out of the Blue Jays spring camp was that Joe Biagini was going to be stretched out as a starting pitcher, though manager John Gibbons told reporters (including Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith) today that the team still intends to use Biagini as a reliever. With Mat Latos in the fold on a minor league deal, the Jays don’t have quite the same need for rotation depth as earlier in the offseason, so Biagini may only be stretched as far as three-inning stints for his spring outings. “It’s something we’re playing with because everyone’s intrigued by what he can do as a starter, but right now he’s so valuable to us in the bullpen,” Gibbons said. After Toronto picked him away from the Giants organization in last year’s Rule 5 draft, Biagini surprisingly emerged as a very good bullpen option for the Jays last season, posting a 3.06 ERA, 8.2 K/9 and 3.26 K/BB rate over 67 2/3 innings.
- In another piece from Nicholson-Smith, he looks at Derek Shelton’s new role as the Blue Jays’ quality control coach. The wide-ranging (and still-evolving) position will see Shelton work with players, coaches and the front office on everything from incorporating analytics to improving information-sharing between the various team departments. Shelton spent the last 12 seasons as hitting coach for the Rays and Indians before being hired by Toronto this winter, and he is one of only five quality control coaches currently employed by MLB teams.
- With Blake Swihart facing a tough path to playing time as a catcher, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald wonders why the Red Sox didn’t experiment with Swihart at third base. Swihart has long been cited for his athletic ability and his potential to play all over the diamond, and the Sox are facing uncertainty at the hot corner as Pablo Sandoval attempts to revive his career. As president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski explained, however, the Red Sox have Rafael Devers as the top future prospect at third, and Swihart is more valuable as a long-term piece for Boston if he can stick behind the plate. “I think Blake has a chance to be, with the type of offensive capabilities and athletic capabilities he has, if he can make that transition on a permanent basis to catching, that’s a real plus for the organization….Then as we go into the future, if he can be our catcher for us, he can be our catcher for a lengthy time period,” Dombrowski said.