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Browsing Posts tagged Nate Freiman

By Scott Barancik, editor

As baseball fans celebrate Opening Day, Jewish Baseball News is taking a look back at the 21 Jews who participated in MLB Spring Training this year.

Fifteen position players and six pitchers saw playing time, some as full-fledged team members, others as non-roster invitees, and several via short-term stints. Their stats are shown at the bottom; players who made their franchise’s Opening Day roster are shown in bold.

Following are some of the Spring’s top stories.

  • It will take a lot more for him to earn back some fans’ trust and affection, but Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun — fresh from a 65-game suspension for taking performance-enhancing drugs — dazzled, hitting .417 with nine RBIs and eight extra-base hits in 36 at-bats.
  • Ike Davis and Josh Satin both made the Mets’ Opening Day roster and will share First Base duties with Lucas Duda. But Davis — who squeaked by with a .241 average in Spring Training — is among the candidates to be sent down later this week to make room for Jon Niese.
  • Nate Freiman‘s 11 RBIs ranked eighth on the A’s, but it wasn’t enough to make the team’s Opening Day roster. Meanwhile, teammate Sam Fuld wowed his way onto the roster with four triples, 7 RBIs and a .348 on-base percentage.
  • With Boston’s Craig Breslow starting the season on the disabled list, Scott Feldman is the only Jewish pitcher to make an Opening Day roster. He also was the only Jewish starter during spring Training. As a group, Jewish pitchers went 1-and-5.
  • After missing much of the past three seasons with surgeries and injuries, former Boston Red Sox OF Ryan Kalish earned a spot on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster. Kalish hit .304 with 3 RBIs, stole 6 of 7 bases, and reached base 38.5% of the time.
  • Texas prospect Aaron Poreda earned some respect in his first MLB Spring Training since 2011. Poreda claimed one save in two chances, held opposing hitters to a .265 average, and walked just one batter over 8.1 innings.
  • Ian Kinsler, traded by Texas during the off-season for Detroit’s Cecil Fielder, outperformed “Big Daddy” with 3 HRs, 9 extra-based hits, 9 RBIs, a perfect 4-for-4 in stolen bases, a .300 average, and a .382 on-base percentage. Fielder matched Kinsler’s power (3 HRs, 9 extra-base hits, 10 RBIs) but hit .246 while striking out 16 times and drawing only two walks.
  • Ben Guez, a 27-year-old outfielder who spent part of the last four seasons with Detroit’s Triple-A club but has yet to be called up, made a brief but exciting splash in three Spring Training games. Against Toronto on 3/18/2014, Guez reached base all six times, going 3-for-3 with two doubles and three walks. His career MLB Spring Training average is a robust .529, along with a .692 on-base percentage.

 MLB Spring Training hitting, 2014

Zach Borenstein LAA 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 NA 1.000
Ryan Braun MIL 36 15 5 0 3 9 0 .417 .500
Ike Davis NYM 29 7 2 0 2 7 0 .241 .313
Cody Decker SDP 10 3 1 0 1 4 0 .300 .417
Nate Freiman OAK 42 10 2 1 1 11 0 .238 .327
Sam Fuld OAK 59 16 1 4 1 7 1-1 .271 .348
Ben Guez DET 7 5 2 0 0 2 0-1 .714 .818
Ryan Kalish CHC 46 14 1 0 0 3 6-7 .304 .385
Ian Kinsler DET 60 18 5 1 3 9 4-4 .300 .382
Ryan Lavarnway BOS 38 11 1 0 2 5 0 .289 .357
Jake Lemmerman SDP 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .500
Joc Pederson LAD 38 7 1 0 3 6 0 .184 .311
Kevin Pillar TOR 33 5 1 1 0 4 0-1 .152 .176
Josh Satin NYM 50 13 2 0 1 4 0 .260 .333
Danny Valencia KCR 48 11 1 0 1 4 1-1 .229 .327

Notes: Zach Borenstein walked in his only plate appearance

MLB Spring Training pitching, 2014

Jeremy Bleich NYY 0 0 9.00 1 1.0 2 0 0 .500 2.00
Scott Feldman HOU 0 2 5.40 4 16.2 21 2 14 .292 1.38
Aaron Poreda TEX 0 1 3.24 8 8.1 9 1 8 .265 1.20
Danny Rosenbaum WAS 0 1 2.70 3 3.1 3 2 2 .300 1.50
Jeff Urlaub OAK 1 1 8.10 4 3.1 4 2 1 .333 1.80
Josh Zeid HOU 0 0 4.15 7 8.2 12 4 12 .333 1.85

Notes: Aaron Poreda earned one save in two chances; Josh Zeid earned a save in his sole opportunity. Boston’s Craig Breslow did not play, due to injury

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By Scott Barancik, editor

Hollywood couldn’t have scripted Ryan Braun‘s return from disgrace any better.

In his first at-bat since completing a 65-game suspension, the presumably drug-free Milwaukee Brewer smashed an 0-1 pitch off Oakland A’s pitcher Tommy Milone over the left-field wall (see video). “It’s still the first day of spring training,” Braun told USA Today. “Better to hit the ball hard then to strike out.”

Naturally, hecklers and jokesters were in attendance. One wore an A’s hat emblazoned with the phrase “MVP-E-D,” a conflation of Braun’s 2011 MVP award and his use performance-enhancing drugs.

In a switch aimed at making room for second-year outfielder Khris Davis, left fielder Braun played right field for the first time in his MLB career, a span that includes 944 regular-season games.

The Brewers faced off against the Oakland A’s, whose lineup featured 1B Nate Freiman (0-for-2) and Sam Fuld (0-for-2).

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By Scott Barancik, editor

For some Jewish baseball fans, Yom Kippur isn’t just the holiest day on the calendar. It’s also a litmus test of a ballplayer’s commitment to Judaism.

That’s not so true here at Jewish Baseball News, a secular website that holds no grudge against a ballplayer for choosing to swing a bat during the High Holidays (although we take pride when a player like Sandy Koufax or Shawn Green elects to pray rather than play).

Some players find ways to bridge the gap. Consider reliever Craig Breslow, who told Boston’s Jewish Journal:

“In previous years, I have participated in online Passover seders and High Holy Day services, and have fasted as best as I could, even on game days. ’Typically, I try to observe the holidays in a way that is meaningful to me and indicative of my commitment to Judaism, but also honors and acknowledges the commitment that I have made to my teammates.”

So without further ado, here’s a breakdown of who played last night, and who didn’t.


Six Jewish major leaguers played last night, and five of them emerged victorious:

  1. Nate Freiman, Oakland A’s.Went 1-for-2. Result: defeated the Texas Rangers.
  2. Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers. Went 0-for-2 but drew three walks, drove in a run, and scored 2 more. Result: lost to the Oakland A’s.
  3. Danny Valencia, Baltimore Orioles. Went 1-for-4 with an RBI single. Result: defeated the Toronto Blue Jays.
  4. Craig Breslow, Boston Red Sox. Of the three batters faced, struck out one, walked another, and gave up a two-run double, leading to a blown save. Result: defeated the New York Yankees.
  5. Josh Zeid, Houston Astros. Pitched a scoreless 8th inning, giving up a walk and a hit but no runs, and earning a hold. Result: defeated the Los Angeles Angels.
  6. Sam Fuld, Tampa Bay Rays. Was brought in as a defensive replacement in the 9th inning. Result: defeated the Minnesota Twins.

Did not play, for one reason or another 

Four major leaguers didn’t play last night even though their teams did, and three of the teams won anyway. With the exception of Baltimore’s Scott Feldman, Baylawsuits doesn’t know whether it was the players’ decision not to play or their managers’.

  1. Scott Feldman, Baltimore Orioles. A member of the team’s starting rotation, he’d pitched 2 days earlier. Result: defeated the Toronto Blue Jays.
  2. Ryan Lavarnway, Boston Red Sox. A back-up catcher, he hasn’t played since Sept. 7. Result: defeated the New York Yankees.
  3. Kevin Pillar, Toronto Blue Jays. A back-up outfielder, he’d started seven of his team’s past 10 games and played part of one other. Result: lost to the Baltimore Orioles.
  4. Josh Satin, New York Mets. A versatile infielder, he’d started six of his team’s past 10 games and played parts of two others. Result: defeated the Miami Marlins.

Unable to play

Four players were on the disabled list, and one was on suspension for violating baseball’s anti-drug policy.

  1. Ike Davis, New York Mets. On disabled list.
  2. Ryan Kalish, Boston Red Sox. On disabled list.
  3. Jason Marquis, San Diego Padres. On disabled list.
  4. Kevin Youkilis, New York Yankees. On disabled list.
  5. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers. Suspended.

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By Scott Barancik, editor

Eye color is not the first thing one notices about Oakland A’s rookie Nate Freiman. Does he part his hair on the left, or the right? No clue.

The first thing every teammate, scout, agent, sportswriter, and fan observes about Freiman (pronounced ‘FRY-men’) is his height. The 26-year-old first baseman stands 6-foot-8-inches above street level, unusually tall for a pro baseball player, and even more so for a non-pitcher.

Nate Freiman exchanging high-fives with teammates (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America)

How unusual, exactly? Jewish Baseball News conducted a search of all non-pitchers who’ve played Major League ball since 1901. And here’s what we found: Nate Freiman isn’t just “tall.” The man dubbed “Green Giant” by one wag is the tallest in baseball history, tied with retired first baseman Tony Parker.

Here’s a table showing the 10 biggest position players in MLB history. Interestingly, two of the 10 are brothers, and the highest career batting average among them is a modest .273.

Rk Player Ht From To BA SLG Tm
1 Nate Freiman 80 2013 2013 .273 .404 OAK
2 Tony Clark 80 1995 2009 .262 .485 DET-BOS-NYM-NYY-TOT-ARI
3 Joel Guzman 79 2006 2007 .232 .321 LAD-TBD
4 Damon Minor 79 2000 2004 .232 .400 SFG
5 Ryan Minor 79 1998 2001 .177 .259 BAL-MON
6 Billy Ashley 79 1992 1998 .233 .409 LAD-BOS
7 Desi Wilson 79 1996 1996 .271 .339 SFG
8 Frank Howard 79 1958 1973 .273 .499 LAD-WSA-TOT-DET
9 Walt Bond 79 1960 1967 .256 .410 CLE-HOU-MIN
10 Ron Jackson 79 1954 1960 .245 .395 CHW-BOS
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/23/2013.

Why does it matter? It doesn’t, really. And odds are, Freiman would like to go down in baseball history for more than a genetic gift. Hopefully he will.

But baseball is a statistics-mad sport. As long as we find it necessary to cite the obvious fact of Freiman’s height, let’s call him the tallest, not just “tall.”

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By Scott Barancik, editor

Cody Decker is many things, but “average” is not one of them. Neither is “normal.” That seems to suit the 26-year-old San Diego Padres prospect just fine.

The southern California native  played a lead role in The Music Man and other productions in high school. A Dr. Who fan, he watches movies around the clock, poses for photos as his favorite characters (see pics below), and tends bar during the off-season. A constant barrage of clever one-liners has earned Decker more than 16,000 Twitter followers, an almost unheard-of number for a Minor League player.

Padres prospect Cody Decker, in superhero pose (c/o Cody Decker)

Padres prospect Cody Decker, in superhero pose (photo courtesy Cody Decker)

He also plays a little baseball. Before joining Team Israel for last year’s World Baseball Classic qualifiers, the 5-foot-11-inch, 220-pound slugger hit 29 home runs, the second-most  among all Padres prospects. Twenty-five of them came with the San Antonio Missions (AA), where he and Jewish teammate Nate Freiman (24 HRs) terrorized opposing pitchers.

Jewish Baseball News recently e-mailed Decker a handful of questions. He’re how the UCLA alum responded.

JBN: According to Baseball America, you were the lead in a school play your senior year of high school and had to quickly change into baseball gear after one performance in order to get to a game on time. Is that true? And if so, what was the play?

Decker as Magnum P.I.

Decker: I was in every play in high school. Starred in several. As for getting to the game on time, it was the other way around. Had a crowd of 1,200 at the theater, but my game went into extras. The second the game ended, had to sprint to the theater to get into wardrobe and get into character. The show [The Music Man] opened 45 minutes late.

JBN: Were you the inspiration for High School Musical? 

Decker: Doubtful, but yes….

JBN: True or false: you recently let your Twitter followers pick your walk-up song from a list you’d created, and they chose the theme song from the British television show Dr. Who.

Decker: True.

JBN: Do fans look at you funny when the song comes on?

Decker as Prince

Decker as Prince

Decker: I’m too busy getting all charged up by the song to notice.

JBN: In your first four seasons of Minor League ball, you played nearly every game either at First Base or in the outfield. Last month (4/21/2013), you played catcher for the first time. Is this something we should expect to see more of?

Decker: Yes. [Editor's note: Padres staff recently decided to try Decker out at catcher after seeing him work a bullpen session.]

JBN: You’re 5-foot-11-inches tall. With the exception of Prince Fielder, who’s also 5’11″, all current Major League first basemen are taller. Is your height a disadvantage at that position?

Decker: So I’m told…. But I’ve yet to see any proof of that.

JBN: Last year, you and San Antonio Missions (AA) teammate Nate Freiman were among Texas League leaders in home runs with 25 and 24, respectively. Did you feel like Jewish superheroes?

Decker: We were Jewish superheroes…..We still are.

JBN: You played for Team Israel in 2012. What was it like to play with a whole team of Jews?

Decker: Best baseball experience of my life. It was a special bond we all had.

JBN: You have more than 16,000 Twitter followers, far above than the average Minor League. Your unique sense of humor has a lot to do with it. Are you just clever, or did someone accidentally swing a bat at your head when you were young?

Decker: Both?

JBN: During the off-season, you’ve been known to tend bar. What’s your favorite drink to make, and your favorite one to imbibe?

Decker: I enjoyed making an Old Fashioned…. The problem was I was the only one that would order it. I hated making shots.

Decker in “Bane” mask

JBN: According to your Tweets, you love watching movies. What is the dumbest baseball movie ever made?

Decker: Toss up between The Slugger’s Wife and The Rookie…. Both unwatchable.

JBN: Of the thousands of websites following Jewish baseball players, which one is the most fabulous?

Decker: There are other websites following Jewish baseball players?

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