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Browsing Posts tagged Sam Fuld

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

Sam Fuld is leaving one “Moneyball“ team for another.

A free agent after three seasons with the Chicago Cubs and another three with the Tampa Bay Rays, Fuld has signed a minor-league contract with the Oakland A’s, where competition for a final outfield roster spot on the Major League club is said to be less stiff.

The 32-year-old defensive specialist said Oakland — the inspiration for Michael Lewis’s best-selling book and Hollywood adaptation — was a natural fit for him.

“It’s no secret that Oakland is essentially a carbon copy of the Rays in many ways on the West Coast, so it’s not surprising that they showed interest in me,” Fuld told the Tampa Bay Times.

The defensive specialist saw his batting average plunge 56 points to .199 in 2013 as he managed only five extra-base hits in 176 at-bats. In 2011, Fuld’s breakout year with the Rays, he hit .240 with 26 extra-base hits in 308 at-bats.

Fuld’s new contract leaves him two chances to opt-out during the season. He says he would not rule out returning to Tampa Bay.

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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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By Scott Barancik, editor

Free agent Kevin Youkilis has covered a lot of ground the past two seasons, playing for A.L. teams in Boston, Chicago, and New York.

This time, he’s moving a little farther afield: Japan. The three-time All-Star, 34, has signed a one-year, $4-million deal to play for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, the defending Japanese champion.

“He’s looking at this as a terrific life experience for his family,” agent Joe Bick said. Youkilis‘ wife and two children, ages 7 and 1, will spend the season with him.

Youkilis — who played just 28 games for the New York Yankees in an injury-plagued 2013 season — will be at least the fifth Jewish major leaguer to play in Japan. He is preceded by Micah Franklin, Gabe Kapler, Richie Scheinblum and Josh Whitesell. reported that Youkilis had “received interest from eight or nine Major League clubs” but had been in talks with the Golden Eagles for several weeks.

Rakuten ace Masahiro Tanaka, who recorded an astounding 24-0 record in 2013, has been the subject of fevered speculation recently in the States. A number of Major League clubs have expressed interest in signing him, but the Golden Eagles have yet to decide whether to allow it.

“Rakuten” is an Internet shopping company. The baseball team is located in Sendai, in the Tohoku region of Japan. The Golden Eagles’ stadium was damaged by an earthquake and tsunami there in 2011.

Like Youkilis, Tampa Bay Rays free agent Sam Fuld reportedly has received interest from Japanese teams about the 2014 season.

Kapler, who overlapped with Youkilis in Boston from 2004-06 and spent part of the 2005 season playing for the Yomiuri Giants, tweeted Friday that he “had a good talk with Youkilis re Japan. He’s excited about something completely new in his life. Amazing cultural opportunity for Yoooouuk!”

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