CLEVELAND - If we’re warned not to be fooled by spring training and September numbers, what about August performances in a rebuild?
Jonathan Villar has looked pretty good in the field since coming over from the Brewers, and he can run and steal bases. I separate the two because other players - Felix Pie and David Lough come to mind - have been fast and also useless on the basepaths.
Villar showed again yesterday that he also can take a pitch for a ride. He clobbered a fastball from Indians starter Adam Plutko and struck a pose at the plate before heading to first base and turning toward the Orioles dugout.
That’s three home runs since joining the Orioles, but it’s more important that they trust him at second base or shortstop. Wherever he’s destined to play. And he’s showing decent range at second, at least to the naked eye.
(The clothed eye may disagree.)
“His clock’s gotten better,” said manager Buck Showalter. “When he first got here ... he’s excited about being here, getting a chance to play mostly every day. He’s got some style to his game and I want him to have that. That’s his personality. But I think he’s kind of slowed down. Not calmed down. He just kind of settled in. I think we’ll get a pretty good feel for him before the season’s over.”
* Jonathan Schoop was 8-for-48 with 18 strikeouts in 14 games with the Brewers, and he wasn’t in last night’s lineup. So, do they still tender him a contract and absorb the raise he’s going to get beyond the $8.5 million he’s being paid this season? Could he possibly become a non-tender?
There are rumblings that the Brewers will try to flip him to another team - if that’s the correct term after months have passed instead of hours.
Wynns was distraught after Dylan Bundy had another rough outing in a 16-5 loss to the Mets. Wynns collected two hits, including an RBI double, but didn’t care in the least.
“It is what it is,” he said. “That’s not really my concern at all. Defense is what I go by, and we have to find a way. We have to find a way.”
The guy was inconsolable. But yesterday brought out the other side of Wynns. He squatted behind the plate while Cobb went the distance in a 4-2 win, and later was a man standing on top of the world.
He wasn’t kidding about defense mattering more than anything he does with a bat in his hands.
“The job our two catchers have done the last two days has been really impressive,” Showalter said, including Caleb Joseph in his praise. “Like Austin’s said, he looks real smart when he’s got all three of those pitches working.”
Cobb called for the ball after the final out and stuffed it in Wynns’ mitt.
* One of my favorite moments yesterday was Cedric Mullins almost reaching second base before his home run ball landed in the right field seats. He wasn’t taking any chances. And he has impressive speed.
“On the flip side of that, Villar’s home run, he was so excited he almost caught Ced,” Showalter said. “I was watching Ced and Ced kicked it in a little bit with separation. I’m not paranoid, I’m just alert. Somebody passing somebody.”
Mullins didn’t get the silent treatment in the dugout after his first major league home run, but he might have wished that teammates ignored him in the clubhouse.
“He got indoctrinated upstairs, I heard,” Showalter said. “Believe me, they only did it because he let them catch him, because none of those guys can catch him.”
Mullins did seem to enjoy it, saying that his first shower included beer, soda, mayonnaise, ketchup and barbeque sauce.
“It was all kinds of stuff,” he said.