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Israel's bench empties after Sunday's series-clinching win

By Scott Barancik, Editor

Israel’s first two wins in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers were fairly close affairs, but the team crushed Great Britain 9-1 in the finals Sunday night to sweep the tournament and earn its first-ever trip to the main WBC event, which will take place in March 2017.

Israel dominated equally from the mound and the plate. Starter Jason Marquis and reliever Josh Zeid maintained a perfect game until one out in the 7th inning, and a no-hitter until two outs in the 8th. Zeid, who notched the win, led all qualifier pitchers with 9 strikeouts in the series. Dean Kremer, a 20-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers prospect who this summer became the first Israeli to be drafted by a Major League team, held Great Britain scoreless in the 9th despite yielding 2 hits.

Israel’s bats thundered, beginning with two 2-run home runs in the 5th inning. Blake Gailen, a 5’9″ outfielder making his first appearance in the tournament and batting last in the order, crushed the first round-tripper. Next was C Ryan Lavarnway, who later in the game stroked an RBI single.

3B Cody Decker, the San Diego Padres’ all-time minor-league home run leader, added a solo shot in the 7th inning. RF Zach Borenstein — who made a diving catch in the 5th to preserve Israel’s perfect game — contributed an RBI triple, and DH Charlie Cutler delivered a 2-run double. SS Scotty Burcham led Israel with three hits.

“This is very emotional. Highly emotional,” Decker told MLB.com. “More emotional than I’m letting on.”

In 2012, Israel lost a heartbreaker to Spain in the 10th inning of the qualifying final. That team was managed by Brad Ausmus, who went on to become manager of the Detroit Tigers.

Israel’s win Sunday earned it the 16th and final berth in the 2017 WBC tournament, which will begin in Seoul, South Korea. The team likely will add a few current Major Leaguers and high-level prospects to its roster, given that MLB will still be in off-season mode then.

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kinsler 200th hr 7-3-2016xxxx
By Scott Barancik, Editor

Detroit 2B Ian Kinsler crushed his 200th career home run today in a 5-1 win over the Rays.

The two-run shot, his second in two days, came off P Danny Farquhar in the 9th inning and struck the catwalk high above Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field.

Kinsler is the fifth Jewish player to reach the 200-homer threshold. He joins Hank Greenberg (331 HRs), Shawn Green (328), Ryan Braun (268), and Sid Gordon (202). Kinsler passed Al Rosen (192) earlier this season.

Kinsler’s 200th came in his 1,460th MLB game. By comparison, Greenberg reached 200 HRs in his 860th game, Braun in his 867th, Green in his 1,084th, and Gordon in his 1,458th. All four other players hit multiple homers on the day they reached 200: Green hit a record-tying four round-trippers (May 23, 2002), Greenberg hit two (September 7, 1939), Braun hit two (September 16, 2012) and Gordon hit two (August 14, 1955) — one each in both games of a double-header.

It’s not the only milestone Kinsler reached today. According to MLB.com, he now is one of only three active players — and 40 total in MLB history — with 200 home runs, 1,000 runs scored, 1,600 hits and 200 stolen bases. The other active players are Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran.

Kinsler is enjoying an unexpected power surge this season. Since peaking at 32 home runs in 2011, the 34-year-old Arizona native has yet to hit 20 again. With 16 so far in 2016, however, he already has exceeded his season totals from 2013 (13 HRs) and 2015 (11) and is on pace to breach 30.

Kinsler’s home run was just one of his contribution’s to today’s win over the Rays. With Detroit down 1-0 in the top of the 8th inning, the Arizona State alum doubled and later daringly scored from second base on an attempted double-play. “That got us going, really,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told MLB.com. “It was great heads-up baserunning, aggressive baserunning.”

The 11th-year player also shone in the field, making a slick backhanded stop and toss to retire Curt Casali in the 3rd inning.

Ausmus summed up Kinsler’s attitude thusly. “He definitely plays with an edge, in a good way. He wants to beat the other team. It’s almost as if he’s a little bit mad at the other team.”

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By Scott Barancik, editor

It looks like manager Brad Ausmus’s stay with the Detroit Tigers is coming to an end.

Citing an unnamed source with “knowledge of the front office’s plans,” the Detroit Free Press reported this morning that Tigers owner Mike Ilitch will fire Ausmus sometime after the the team’s final game of the regular season, on Oct. 4. The 46-year-old former catcher, who coached Team Israel in the 2012 World Baseball Classic qualifiers and is the sixth Jewish manager in MLB history, is in the second year of a 3-year contract.

Expectations were high when the rookie manager took the helm in 2014. Detroit had finished in first place in 2013 with a 93-69 record and made it to the American League Championship Series, which it lost to the Red Sox four games to two. Under Ausmus, the Tigers again finished in first, this time with a 90-72 record, but was swept by the Orioles in the division series.

The 2015 season, by contrast, has been a major disappointment. The last-place Tigers are 64-75 with 23 games to go and have lost 15 of their last 20. According to the Free Press, “many fans have blamed the Tigers’ disappointing season in large part on the manager.” But despite strong play from 2B Ian Kinsler and others, Ausmus has been working with a denuded roster.

After four straight division titles, the Tigers were expected to be serious contenders again this season. But Dombrowksi traded stars David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Joakim Soria at the July trade deadline after it was decided that the team was too far out of the playoff race. Injuries to Miguel Cabrera and the offensive struggles of Victor Martinez didn’t give the Tigers optimism they could earn a wild-card berth.

It’s not all bleak for Ausmus. Minutes ago, USA Today baseball columnist Bob Nightingale tweeted that the Connecticut native could end up in San Diego if the Padres let manager Pat Murphy go.

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For a day, Jews shine again in Detroit

Ben Guez congratulates teammate Ian Kinsler after scoring on his 5th-inning home run (Carlos Osorio, AP)

By Scott Barancik, editor

Detroit’s love affair with the late Hank Greenberg may never be matched. But for a day at least, the Tigers again were powered by Jews.

Playing under newly-minted manager Brad Ausmus, Detroit crushed the Blue Jays 18-4 thanks partly to contributions from two Jewish players.

Three-time All-Star Ian Kinsler led the way, going 2-for-3 with a three-run homer, a double, and two walks. Obtained from Texas during the off-season, Kinsler is hitting .333 with 3 HRs, 8 RBIs, a .442 on-base percentage, and an impressive 1.136 OPS.

The big surprise Tuesday was the contribution of outfielder Ben Guez, a last-minute call-up from the Tigers’ minor-league camp who filled- in for injured starter Rajaj Davis. The 27-year-old Guez , who hasn’t played a day of regular-season ball in the Majors, reached base all six times he came to the plate, finishing the day 3-for-3 with 2 doubles, 3 walks, 1 RBI, and 3 runs scored.

Guez was on base when Kinsler homered in the 5th inning.

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Big trade lands Tissenbaum with Tampa Bay Rays

(MiLB.com)

By Scott Barancik, editor

San Diego Padres prospect Maxx Tissenbaum was one of five players sent to the Tampa Bay Rays today as part of a 7-player trade headlined by Rays pitcher Alex Torres and Padres infielder Logan Forsythe.

A 22-year-old infielder who was chosen in the 11th round of the 2012 amateur draft and hit .277 with the Fort Wayne Tincaps (Single A) in 2013,  Tissenbaum was described today by the Tampa Bay Times as a “young, scrappy player with a good eye.”

Just how good an eye? The Toronto native struck out a team-low once in every 11.5 at-bats in 2013, was the only Tincap to walk more times (43) than he fanned (36), and ranked second on the club in on-base percentage (.365). He also led the team with 28 doubles and ranked third with 49 RBIs.

What position the Rays expect Tissenbaum to play is the big question. A career infielder who split 2013 between second base (92 games), shortstop (22 games) and DH (2 games), the Stony Brook College alum was sent to the Padres’ instructional complex in the Dominican Republic during the offseason for a crash course in playing catcher. Among those he worked with were Triple-A manager Pat Murphy and retired MLB catcher (and fellow Jew) Brad Ausmus, who later was named manager of the Detroit Tigers. “I tried to be as much of a sponge as I could, soaking up all the lessons that their years of experience could offer me,” Tissenbaum wrote in a recent blog post. “I actually enjoyed learning to catch way more than I thought I would.”

The only other Jewish player in the Rays’ system is P Lenny Linsky, who went 7-5 with a 3.22 ERA in 2013 for the Charlotte Stone Crabs (A-Advanced). Sam Fuld, who played for the Rays from 2011-13, is a free agent.

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Prince Fielder

By Scott Barancik, editor

Ian Kinsler, a 32-year-old second baseman who has spent his entire 8-year career with the Texas Rangers, is being traded to the Detroit Tigers for slugger Prince Fielder.

Detroit will pay the Rangers an additional $30-million to help cover Fielder’s massive contract. The 29-year-old first baseman “has seven years remaining on his $214-million, nine-year contract while Kinsler has four years on his $75-million, five-year contract,” according to CBSsports.com.

A three-time All-Star and fan favorite in Texas, Kinsler’s move to Detroit comes on the cleats of news that retired All-Star catcher and Team Israel manager Brad Ausmus will succeed Jim Leyland as the Tigers’ helmsman. He is one of only a handful of major leaguers to twice hit 30 or more home runs and steal 30 or more bases in the same season. In 2013 he hit .277 with 13 HRs and 72 RBIs while stealing 15 bases.

CBSsports.com says the trade will open up second base for Rangers prospect Jurickson Profar and will allow MVP Miguel Cabrera to move back from third base to first.

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Tigers CEO Dave Dombrowski presents new manager Brad Ausmus with a team jersey (ESPN.com)

By Scott Barancik, editor

Until yesterday, Brad Ausmus‘s only experience at the helm of a baseball team was managing Team Israel in the 2012 World Baseball Classic qualifiers.

But that didn’t stop the Detroit Tigers from hiring the 44-year-old former catcher to replace Jim Leyland as manager. Much is at stake for the team, which made the 2013 postseason and is expected to be a leading contender in 2014.

“This is a very exciting opportunity for me,” Ausmus said at a news conference. “I’m well aware that you don’t generally get dropped into a situation like I will be this coming season…Very rarely is there a managerial change when a team is coming off a post-season appearance.”

Ausmus is hardly inexperienced. A former Tiger — he played three seasons in Detroit, one of them as an All-Star — the Connecticut native caught more games during his 18-year career than all but six catchers in MLB history (1,938) and won three Gold Glove awards. His cerebral approach to the game led the San Diego Padres to name him Special Assistant to Baseball Operations after his retirement in 2010.

“Frankly, when we interviewed, we were taken aback at how impressive he was,” Tigers CEO Dave Dombrowski said.

In addition to managing Team Israel, Ausmus holds Jewish records for most MLB seasons (18) and games played (1,971).

At least five other Jews have managed MLB teams. They include:

  • Lipman “Lip” Pike. Baseball’s first home-run king, Pike served as player-manager of the Troy Haymakers (1871), Hartford Dark Blues (1874), and Cincinnati Reds (1877), with an overall record of 20-51. He was just 26 years old when he took on the Haymakers’ job.
  • Andy Cohen. A former New York Giants infielder and minor-league manager, Cohen was coaching for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1960 when manager Eddie Sawyer stepped down after the season’s first game. Cohen managed one game before permanent replacement Gene Mauch arrived; the Phillies’ 5-4, extra-inning win gave him a perfect 1-0 record.
  • Lefty Phillips. Though he didn’t play Major League ball, Phillips coached the California Angels from 1969-1971, earning an overall record of 222-225. His best season was 1970, when the Angels finished in third place in the A.L. West division with an 86-76 record.
  • Norm Sherry. Like Ausmus a former MLB catcher, Sherry coached the California Angels from 1976-1977, finishing a combined 76-71.
  • Jeff Newman. A former catcher who played nine MLB season, Newman was the second of three Oakland A’s managers in 1986 and coached the team to a 2-8 record.

Click here to see a video excerpt of the Tigers’ news conference.

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Team Israel defeated South Africa 7-3 on Wednesday night (9/19/2012) to take Game 1 of the World Baseball Classic qualifiers held in Jupiter, Fla. (see video recap and box score).

The greatest Jewish team in baseball history earned its victory both at the plate and on the mound, hitting a collective .278 while holding South Africa to just 3 hits and an .097 batting average. With the exception of a 9th-inning error, Team Israel dispatched grounders and fly balls with ease and worked well together despite its players’ relative unfamiliarity with one another.

San Diego Padres prospect Nate Freiman (1B) put Israel on the board with a solo HR in the 1st inning and followed up with another solo shot in the 9th (see video). Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Charlie Cutler (C) drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double down the right-field line in the 8th inning to break open the game (see video).

Strong pitching kept the score a close 1-0 through the sixth inning. South Africa starter Dylan Unsworth, a Seattle Mariners prospect, struck out 6 batters and walked none while scattering 5 hits across the six innings. Team Israel starter (and Cleveland Indians prospect) Eric Berger was lifted after three scoreless innings to avoid a 50-pitch threshold that, under WBC rules, would have kept him out of service for four days. Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Brett Lorin followed with two-and-a-third scoreless innings, and Houston Astros prospect Josh Zeid earned post-game kudos from manager Brad Ausmus for getting Team Israel out of a sixth-inning jam. Zeid entered the game with men on second and third and one out but retired the meat of South Africa’s order without giving up a run.

“A big momentum shift,” Ausmus said of Zeid’s stint.

Shlomo Lipetz, the only native Israeli to take the field Wednesday night, was charged with all three South African runs after giving up three walks in a shaky 9th-inning appearance. Teammates nevertheless greeted him with smiles and fist bumps after he was replaced by Israel’s sixth and final hurler of the 3-hour, 16-minute game, New York Mets prospect Jeff Kaplan.

Among the most anticipated appearances of the night was that of Team Israel player-coach Shawn Green (DH). The most accomplished person in uniform Wednesday — his 328 HRs over a 15-year MLB career are second only to Hank Greenberg‘s 331 among Jewish pros — Green also was the oldest, at 39, and hadn’t played baseball since retiring in 2007.

He looked overmatched in his first two trips at the plate, striking out on three pitches in the 2nd inning and grounding weakly into the evening’s only double play in the 4th. But Green’s baseball instincts seemed to take over afterward. After grounding-out sharply to shortstop in the 6th inning, he legged-out an infield single in the 8th inning, took second base on a passed ball, and scored on Cutler’s double. In the 9th inning, he added a bloop single to left field but proceeded to second base after South Africa’s Karl Weitz bobbled the ball, ending the night 2-for-5.

Team Israel’s second game will take place Friday (9/21) at 1:00pm EST against the winner of Thursday’s contest between Spain and France and will be streamed online at www.worldbaseballclassic.com. The eventual winner of the four-team, double-elimination qualifying tournament will advance to the main World Baseball Classic competition in March 2013.

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

It’s been nearly 5 years since Shawn Green hung up his cleats, marking an end to a Major League career in which the tall slugger with the elegant swing hit .283, smashed 328 HRs, and drew a respectful 80 intentional walks.

Since then, the two-time All-Star has penned a book, created a social media site, and expanded his charity work.

But Green’s retirement is over. Former Los Angeles Dodgers teammate Brad Ausmus, who has agreed to coach Team Israel in the upcoming World Baseball Classic qualifiers, confirmed Monday that the Tustin, Calif., native will be on the roster.

It’s exciting, if nerve-wracking, news. Reflexes and eyesight degrade quickly, and few ballplayers have successfully returned from so long an absence. Green could be a hero; he also could embarrass himself.

Green has several things going for him. Because he skipped college to turn pro, the 15-year MLB veteran is just 39 years old. He also won’t be facing MLB-type pitching, or at least not right away; Israel’s opponents in the WBC qualifiers are baseball-weak Spain, France, and South Africa. If the outfield proves too difficult, he is an experienced first baseman. And though it’s not clear how fit he is, Green has not let his weight balloon since retiring, as this 2011 video shows.

Joining Green on the Team Israel roster will be former Major League outfielder Gabe Kapler, a fitness fanatic who last played for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010 and undoubtedly remains in great condition.

One thing is for sure: we’ll be rooting for these guys to succeed.

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Spring Training 2011 is just two weeks old. Many players are still shedding their off-season rust. But a couple Jewish players are already tearing the stitching off the ball.

Texas Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler, who was hobbled by injuries last season, leads all MLB players with 4 HRs, is tied for second with 7 RBIs, and is batting .444 (8/18). Figure in walks, and he has a nifty on-base percentage of .545.

Also hitting well is Minnesota Twins 3B Danny Valencia. After finishing 3rd in voting for the A.L. Rookie of the Year award last year, Valencia is batting .500 (6/12) with 3 RBIs and is tied for the A.L. lead in doubles, with four.

Here is how all Jewish position players were doing through Mon., March 7:

 

TEAM
AB H HR RBI BB AVG OBP
Danny Valencia
MIN
12 6 0 3 1 .500 .538
Ian Kinsler
TEX
18 8 4 7 3 .444 .545
Ryan Braun
MIL
11 3 1 2 1 .273 .333
Ike Davis NYM 12 3 1 3 4 .250 .438
Ben Guez
DET
4 1 0 0 3 .250 .571
Gabe Kapler
LAD
15 3 0 1 0 .200 .200
Kevin Youkilis
BOS
13 2 0 1 1 .154 .214
Jason Kipnis
CLE
13 2 1 2 2 .154 .267
Ryan Kalish
TB
16 2 0 0 2 .125 .222
Sam Fuld
TB
9 1 0 0 0 .111 .111
Ryan Lavarnway
BOS
4 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
Jake Lemmerman
LAD
1 0 0 0 0 .000 .000

Among pitchers, Washington Nationals starter Jason Marquis followed up a difficult 2010 with a strong spring-training outing, giving up just 1 hit over 3 innings in his only game played so far. Here’s how all Jewish pitchers were doing through March 7:

 

TEAM
W L ERA G IP H BB SO
Jason Marquis
WSH
0 0 0.00 1 3 1 0 1
Aaron Poreda
SD
0 0 5.40 2 1.2 0 4 1
Michael Schwimer
PHI
0 0 13.50 2 2 4 0 1
John Grabow
CHC
0 0 18.00 1 1 3 0 1
Craig Breslow
OAK
Scott Feldman TEX
Jason Hirsh NYY
David Kopp STL

To track Jewish players in Spring Training, visit Jewish Baseball News for our daily box score.

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TEAM
AB H HR RBI BB AVG OBP
Danny Valencia
MIN
12 6 0 3 1 .500 .538
Ian Kinsler
TEX
18 8 4 7 3 .444 .545
Ryan Braun
MIL
11 3 1 2 1 .273 .333
Ike Davis NYM 12 3 1 3 4 .250 .438
Ben Guez
DET
4 1 0 0 3 .250 .571
Gabe Kapler
LAD
15 3 0 1 0 .200 .200
Kevin Youkilis
BOS
13 2 0 1 1 .154 .214
Jason Kipnis
CLE
13 2 1 2 2 .154 .267
Ryan Kalish
TB
16 2 0 0 2 .125 .222
Sam Fuld
TB
9 1 0 0 0 .111 .111
Ryan Lavarnway
BOS
4 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
Jake Lemmerman
LAD
1 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
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Ausmus headed to Padres’ front office

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Brad Ausmus didn’t stay unemployed for long.

The Gold Glove catcher, who retired from active play last month after completing his 18th year in the Majors, is joining the San Diego Padres as a Special Assistant to Baseball Operations.

Ausmus, 41, has long been considered future manager material. During his final years as a player he often tutored younger catchers. The Los Angeles Dodgers allowed him to sit in for manager Joe Torre in one of the team’s final 2010 games. “There’s no question he can manage,” Torre said in 2009. “He’s a smart cookie, everybody knows that, and he has an engaging personality.”

Until now, precisely which team might hire him was an open question. Los Angeles? Ausmus did end his career with the Dodgers. Houston? The Cheshire, Conn., native spent more years with the Astros (10) than any other MLB team, and he won three Gold Gloves — as well as the hearts of many Houstonians — while playing there.

But Ausmus instead will go to San Diego, where his major-league career began. Selected by the New York Yankees in the 48th round of the 1987 amateur draft (1,151st overall), Ausmus labored in the Yanks’ farm system until the Colorado Rockies selected him in the 1992 expansion draft. The following year he was traded to the Padres, where he made his MLB debut two days later.

Ausmus played in San Diego until June 1996, when he was traded to the Detroit Tigers. Three years later, he was voted an All-Star for the first and only time.

Known as a defensive specialist and excellent game-caller, the Dartmouth College recruit ended his MLB career with a total of 80 HRs, 607 RBIs, .251 batting average, and .325 on-base percentage. He caught more games than all but 6 other catchers in major-league history.

San Diego did not say who Ausmus will report to. According to the Padres’ front-office directory, Josh Stein is the Director of Baseball Operations.

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Here are your Players of the Day for Sunday (10/3/2010):

(Ausmus) was saluted before the game with a video tribute from teammates current and past. In his first at-bat, he doubled down the right-field line and the dugout called for the ball. In his final at-bat, he singled, was replaced by a pinch-runner, received a standing ovation as he left the field and got a hero’s welcome in the dugout.

“The fans were extremely nice to me today for a guy who’s only been here two years in very limited duty,” said Ausmus. “And I really enjoyed today, but I’m ready, I’m ready to move on to non-playing things. It was a good feeling to know that even though I’ve never been an offensive player that you could say at least you ended your career on a high note. There’s an old saying in baseball, you’re only as good as your last at-bat. I can stick to that.”

Ausmus shared the limelight with Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who also is leaving the team.

  • 2B Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers went 1/2 with a double in a 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. He finished an  injury-shortened regular season batting .286, with 9 HRs, 20 doubles, and 45 RBIs in 391 at-bats. Kinsler had his best walk-to-strikeout ratio ever, walking 56 times while striking out 57. His on-base percentage was .382, #2 in the A.L. behind teammate Josh Hamilton. Texas’ playoff series against the Tampa Bay Rays starts Wednesday (10/6/2010).

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — When catcher Brad Ausmus was selected by the New York Yankees in the 48th round of the 1987 amateur draft, a long MLB career didn’t seem probable.

So much for predictions. Though the Cheshire, Conn., native didn’t reach the big leagues until 1993, he ended up staying 18 seasons, long enough to capture 3 Gold Glove awards (2001, 2002, 2006) and rank 7th among MLB catchers on the all-time games played list.

Ausmus, 41, will start his 1,971st and final game today (10/3/2010) when the Los Angeles Dodgers host the Arizona Diamondbacks (4:10pm ET). He will be honored in a pre-game ceremony, although the game will not be nationally telecast.

Known as a team player and hard worker — he stayed off the disabled list his first 17 seasons  — the Dartmouth alum also is known as a mentor with managerial potential and ambitions.

Ausmus also is simply a good guy. When catcher A.J. Ellis was called up to replace him earlier this season, he hosted the rookie at his home for six weeks until family arrived.

Thanks for the ride, Brad. Hope to see you in the dugout soon.

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Here are your Players of the Day for Thursday (8/26/2010):

  • Fresh off his first visit to the disabled list in an 18-year career, C Brad Ausmus of the Los Angeles Dodgers went 3/4 and scored a run in a 7-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. It was the 81st time Ausmus has had 3 or more hits in a game but the first time in more than two years. (He went 4/4 against the Brewers on July 27, 2008.) Ausmus is batting .240, with 2 RBIs in 50 at-bats.
  • LF Adam Stern of the “AAA” Nashville Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers) stroked a pinch-hit RBI single in a 7-3 victory over the New Orleans Zephyrs. The 30-year-old University of Nebraska alum ranks 1st on the Sounds in on-base percentage (.397) and 2nd in batting average (.324).
  • 1B Nate Freiman of the “A” Fort Wayne TinCaps (San Diego Padres) went 2/5 with two doubles and a run scored in a 6-4 win over the Great Lakes Loons. A 6’7″ native of Wellesley, Mass., he leads the TinCaps in HRs (14/tie) and ranks 2nd in doubles (34), RBIs (73) and slugging percentage (.447).
  • In his sixth appearance (and first start) since being promoted to “A” ball, RP Jason Markovitz of the Clinton LumberKings (Seattle Mariners) pitched 3 scoreless innings en route to a 6-3 win over the Quad Cities River Bandits. The 21-year-old rookie gave up just one hit and 2 walks while striking out four. The performance marked a significant recovery from Markovitz’s most recent outing, when he gave up two singles, a double, a grand-slam HR and a walk in less than an inning of relief.
  • C Ryan Lavarnway of the “AA” Portland Sea Dogs (Boston Red Sox) went 2/3 with a solo HR and a walk in a 6-3 loss to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. The home run — Lavarnway’s 4th in the past seven games — put the Sea Dogs ahead 3-2, but the lead didn’t last. In 114 games this season with Portland and the “A-Advanced” Salem Red Sox, Lavarnway is batting a combined .287 with 20 HRs, 89 RBIs, a .388 on-base percentage and .486  slugging percentage.

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Here are your Players of the Day for Friday (8/20/2010):

Four MLB players had two hits apiece…

  • C Brad Ausmus of the Los Angeles Dodgers had his best day at the plate since returning from the disabled list, going 2/3 with two singles in a 3-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. A 41-year-old enjoying his 18th MLB season, Ausmus is batting .209 in 43 at-bats.
  • 1B Ike Davis of the New York Mets went 2/4 with two singles and an RBI in a 7-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Davis, a rookie, is batting .243 and ranks 2nd on the Mets in home runs (15), RBIs (56) and strikeouts (106), and 4th in runs scored (51). He has struggled of late, batting just .143 over his past 10 games.
  • LF Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers went 2/4 with two walks and two RBIs in a 10-6 victory over the San Diego Padres. A 26-year-old in his fourth major-league season, Braun has hit .353 in his last 10 games and .292 for the season.
  • Rookie 3B Danny Valencia of the Minnesota Twins continues to impress, going 2/4 in a 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. A mid-season call-up from “AAA” ball, Valencia is batting .335, tops among AL rookies.

One MLB pitcher shined…

  • RP Craig Breslow of the Oakland A’s pitched a scoreless 9th inning to preserve a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, striking out 2 of the three batters he faced. It was just the third career save for Breslow, who typically is used in a middle-relief role. The 30-year-old Yale Alum is 4-3 with a 3.13 ERA. He has 55 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings and has held opposing hitters to a .201 batting average.

And in the minors…

  • CF James Rapoport of the “AAA” Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals) went 2/5 with 2 walks and 2 RBIs in a 6-3 win over the Salt Lake Bees. Rapoport, 25, is batting .264 with 2 HRs and 29 RBIs since being promoted to “AAA” earlier this season. He has 4 triples and 8 stolen bases for the Redbirds.
  • SP Jason Knapp of the “A” Lake County Captains (Cleveland Indians) pitched 4 innings of no-hit ball, struck out 7 batters and walked two in a 5-3 win over the Bowling Green Hot Rods.

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Fuld makes 2010 MLB debut

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — As predicted, the Chicago Cubs recalled LF Sam Fuld from “AAA” today (8/19/2010) and immediately put him to work.

With the San Diego Padres ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the 6th inning, Fuld was sent in to pinch-hit for starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano. A 28-year-old veteran whose most recent MLB at-bat was on Oct. 4, 2009, Fuld took the first pitch for a ball, then flied out to center field on an 87 m.p.h. changeup. The Cubs went on to score 2 runs in the inning but eventually lost 5-3.

Fuld’s stay is likely to be brief. He was brought up to fill a vacancy created when 1B Derrek Lee was traded to the Atlanta Braves and is expected to be sent down again when 1B Micah Hoffpauir becomes eligible for promotion in several days.

Fuld is the 14th Jewish player to play major-league ball this season. A speedy baserunner with a reputation for hustle and spectacular catches — check out this video of a catch he made to rob fellow Hebe Brad Ausmus of extra bases last year — he is batting .266 with the “AAA” Iowa Cubs, along with 8 triples (tied for 3rd most in the league), 18 stolen bases, a .367 on-base percentage, and a team-best walk-to-strikeout ratio  of 51/31.

Fuld has had two prior MLB stints, both with the Cubs. In 2009 he hit .299 and had a .409 on-base percentage in 97 at-bats. In 2007 he went hitless in six at-bats but walked three times.

The Stanford alum, who stands a mere 5’10”, has been treated for Type 1 diabetes since age 10.

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Kapler joins hobbled-Jews list

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Tampa Bay Rays RF Gabe Kapler was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday (8/16/2010), his second such visit this season.

There is some speculation that Kapler was ‘listed’ not so much because of a twisted ankle but to make room on the roster for 1B Carlos Pena, who was returning from the DL and might provide the Rays with some much-needed power during the pennant race.

Either way, 2010 is turning out to be one of the most injury-prone seasons in recent memory for Jewish ballplayers.

Two players — Boston Red Sox 1B Kevin Youkilis and Chicago Cubs RP John Grabow — are out with season-ending injuries. Los Angeles Dodgers C Brad Ausmus only recently returned after spending much of the season on the DL, his first such stop in an 18-year MLB career. Texas Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler is on the DL for the second time this season, and Washington Nationals SP Jason Marquis is back now after a lengthy stint away.

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Despite back, he’s back

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Los Angeles Dodgers C Brad Ausmus, who played just one game this season before succumbing to a back injury that required surgery, returned to the team’s roster Tuesday (7/20/2010) after a brief minor-league rehab stint.

Ausmus, 41, went 6-for 12 with the “A+” Inland Empire 66ers and 1-for-8 with the “AAA” Albuquerque Isotopes before being recalled by the Dodgers. His trip to the disabled list was his first since entering the majors in 1993.

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Rehab, promotions and more

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Los Angeles Dodgers C Brad Ausmus and Washington Nationals SP Jason Marquis have spent much of the 2010 season on the disabled list. But both made decent showings in minor-league rehab games the past week and may be nearing a return to the Show.

Ausmus, 41, went 6-for-12 in four games for the “A+” Inland Empire 66ers before moving up to the Dodgers’ “AAA” squad, the Albuquerque Isotopes. He’s batting a less impressive 1-for-8 with the Isotopes.

Marquis, a 31-year-old right hander,  pitched three innings of scoreless ball for the Nats’ rookie-league squad on Sunday, giving up just two hits while striking out four batters and walking none.

In other news:

  • The Boston Red Sox promoted C Ryan Lavarnway to the franchise’s “AA” team, the Portland Sea Dogs. Through the All-Star break, Lavarnway — then with the Salem Red Sox — led all minor-league Jews with 14 home runs, 63 RBIs, 44 walks, a .487 slugging percentage, and an OPS of .879. Since arriving in Portland, Lavarnway has gone 4-for-11 with two walks and two RBIs.
  • The Philadelphia Phillies promoted RP Michael Schwimer to the “AAA” Lehigh Valley IronPigs. While playing for the “AA” Reading Phillies, the 6’8″ right-hander assembled a 5-3 record with an ERA of 3.60 and an impressive 58 strikeouts in 40 innings, while walking only 14.
  • SP Michael Schlact wasted no time making an impact on the “AA” Frisco RoughRiders after the Texas Rangers promoted him. On Sunday, the 6’7″ right-hander gave up just one hit and one walk in six innings of play while striking out four.

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Sunday update

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — An update from the world of Jewish baseball players:

  • Los Angeles Dodgers C Brad Ausmus is doing well in his rehab stint with the Inland Empire 66ers, a Class A-advanced team. The 41-year-old has six hits in 12 at-bats with two walks and two RBIs. Ausmus had just four at-bats with the Dodgers this season before injuring his back. It was his first and only time on the disabled list in a lengthy career. In Ausmus’ absence, Dodger catchers Russell Martin (.247 average, .351 on-base percentage, .337 slugging percentage) and A.J. Ellis (.214 average, .306 OBP, .238 SLG) have performed adequately, if not exceptionally.
  • As a group, MLB’s Jewish pitchers have had a dismal season. Boston Red Sox RP Scott Schoeneweis was released back in May, and their collective ERA only recently dipped below 6.00. Oakland A’s RP Craig Breslow remains an exception, with a 3-2 record, 3.15 ERA, strikeout/walk ratio of 40/16, and opponent batting average of just .175. A’s manager Bob Geren has been lobbying to get Breslow into the 2010 All-Star Game. In his most recent start, Scott Feldman (5-8, 5.32 ERA, 63/33) delivered a seven-inning, 2 ER performance against the Baltimore Orioles. (7/9/2010), Texas Rangers SP
  • Since returning from the disabled list, Texas Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler hasn’t displayed the power (31 HRs) and speed (31 stolen bases) that he did in 2009, but he is hitting for average (.311) and is on pace for a career-high on-base percentage of .411.
  • New York Mets 1B Ike Davis hit his 10th home run of the season on July 4, making him just the third rookie in Met history to hit 10 HRs before the All-Star break. Rumor has it that the Seattle Mariners wouldn’t consider trading star pitcher Cliff Lee to the Mets unless Davis was part of the deal. Davis’ habit of landing in the dugout after catching a pop foul has been immortalized in a video game.
  • Boston Red Sox 1B Kevin Youkilis narrowly lost another chance to join the 2010 All-Star Game. Youkilis was one of five AL players chosen to participate in a “Final Vote” for the last spot on the AL roster, but Youkilis finished second to New York Yankees RF Nick Swisher in the closest contest in the nine-year history of the Final Vote. According to MLB.com, Swisher used his Twitter account — baseball’s biggest at more than 1.2-million followers — to obtain endorsements from Jessica Alba, Ivanka Trump and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
  • Philadelphia Phillies prospect Michael Schwimer, a 6’8″ pitcher whom Jewish Baseball News dubbed a “monster of the mound,” was promoted to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA). The 24-year-old reliever had compiled a 5-3 record with the Reading Phillies (AA), including 58 strikeouts in just 40 innings. If you’re interested in what Schwimer has to say about things, you can catch his blog here.
  • Also moving up in the world is St. Louis Cardinals prospect David Kopp. The transition to AAA ball hasn’t been easy for the 24-year-old starting pitcher. Kopp dominated the AA Texas League while with the Springfield Cardinals this season, going 8-1 with a 3.08 ERA. By contrast, he has lost all four of his starts as a Memphis Redbird.
  • The Los Angeles Dodgers will celebrate Jewish Community Day on July 25 by giving away Dodgers yarmulkes. Their opponent? Ike Davis and the New York Mets.

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