Phillies Notes: Athletics seek Rhys Hoskins advice; Henderson Alvarez to start Sunday

Phillies Notes: Athletics seek Rhys Hoskins advice; Henderson Alvarez to start Sunday

Instead of fielding questions, Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin asked one as he looked at a handful of Philadelphia reporters before Friday night’s game against the Phillies

The topic, of course, was Rhys Hoskins. 

“You guys want to give me some scouting reports on how to pitch him?” Melvin said. 

He was told not to throw him fastballs — or breaking pitches. 

“So come up with a new pitch?” Melvin said, smiling. 

The veteran skipper had high praise before he was to get his first look at Hoskins, who enters the three-game series with 18 home runs in his first 34 big-league games.  

The rare September interleague series features a pair of rookie sluggers. Oakland’s Matt Olson entered with 18 home runs in 50 games. 

“Gaudy numbers for sure. Both of these guys have had serious impacts from the time they’ve gotten here,” Melvin said. “You look at Hoskins and what, it’s what, 50 (47) home runs or whatever between Triple A and here. It’s pretty impressive.”

But Melvin said both players will soon face key tests. 

“At some point in time, both of these guys are going to have to make adjustments because the league always does make adjustments to you,” Melvin said. “But the numbers, you can’t argue with the numbers. It’s significant for anybody in baseball, let alone rookies.” 

Hoskins' hitting contagious?
Phillies manager Pete Mackanin was asked if Hoskins’ plate discipline — he had 26 walks to just 27 strikeouts in his first 118 big-league at bats — would rub off on teammates. 

“I hope it does. That’s how you learn, watching other people,” Mackanin said. “When I was a kid growing up in Chicago, Ron Santo was the third baseman for the Cubs and when I was playing baseball I tried to repeat his actions. … I would like to think that some guys are asking him what he thinks about when he hits and what his approach is. That’s what I would do.”

Alvarez's debut
While the Phillies were holding off making it official, Mackanin said right-hander Henderson Alvarez would “most likely” start Sunday’s series finale. 

Alvarez, a former All-Star with the Marlins, hasn’t pitched in MLB since 2015 because of shoulder problems. 

Home run ball
Rookie outfielder Cameron Perkins said the Phillies were able to track down the fan who grabbed the ball from his first major-league home run Thursday night. Perkins is planning an exchange before Sunday’s game.

“They were very generous and more than willing to make a trade,” Perkins said. “So I’m just going around trying to collect some stuff. I have a bat I’m going to sign and I’m going to get some [signed] balls from some of the more popular guys.”

Veteran observers declared Mackanin’s corny joke Friday to be one of his worst yet. 

“Anybody play tennis here?” Mackanin asked. “I quit because it hurt my ears too much. It was a lot of racket.” 

MLB Playoffs: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees to force Game 7 in ALCS

USA Today Images

MLB Playoffs: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees to force Game 7 in ALCS


HOUSTON — Justin Verlander remained perfect with Houston, pitching seven shutout innings when the team needed him most, and Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs as the Astros extended the AL Championship Series to a decisive Game 7 with a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

Acquired in an Aug. 31 trade, Verlander has won all nine outings with the Astros. And with his new club facing elimination in Game 6 against the Yankees, he delivered again.

After striking out 13 in a complete-game victory in Game 2, Verlander threw another gem. The right-hander scattered five hits and struck out eight to improve to 9-0 with 67 strikeouts since being traded from Detroit. George Springer helped him out of a jam in the seventh, leaping to make a catch at the center-field wall and rob Todd Frazier of extra bases with two on and Houston up 3-0.

Game 7 is Saturday night in Houston, with the winner advancing to the World Series against the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

Dusty Baker fired by Nationals after 2 NL East titles


Dusty Baker fired by Nationals after 2 NL East titles

WASHINGTON -- Dusty Baker's time as the manager of the Washington Nationals is over after two seasons, two NL East titles and zero playoff series victories.

The Nationals announced Friday that they would not be bringing Baker back. His two-year deal with the club is expiring.

The contracts for the members of Baker's coaching staff also are finished. The team said it will work with its new manager to fill those positions.

The moves come the week after Washington was eliminated from its NL Division Series against the Chicago Cubs with a 9-8 loss at home in Game 5. The Nationals also were bounced from the postseason in the NLDS round in 2016 -- also with a Game 5 loss at home by one run, that time against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This outcome, essentially, is what Baker was worried about as far back as spring training in February, when he made clear his desire for a new contract, knowing his was up after 2017.

Before the series against the Cubs began, Baker was asked about his possible future in Washington.

"I've given some thought to some things, but we were told that we were waiting until after the season to make a determination," he said at the time. "There's a good chance I'll be back."

He expected negotiations to pick up after the season ended (see full story).

Turner, Taylor repay Dodgers' patience by sharing NLCS MVP
CHICAGO -- Justin Turner and Chris Taylor shared MVP honors in the NL Championship Series, repaying a Dodgers organization willing to roll the dice on players whose big league careers were stalled.

In Turner's case, it was then-bench coach Tim Wallach who rediscovered him playing in a Cal State-Fullerton alumni baseball game four years ago, after his career appeared all but over.

In Taylor's case, it was Los Angeles' willingness to gamble that an offseason of grueling workouts would enable the young utilityman to rebuild his swing in a matter of months.

The co-MVPs turned up in the interview room together after the Dodgers eliminated the reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs 11-1 in Game 5. They were champagne-soaked with hats turned backward, a pair of goggles still perched on Turner's head. Fittingly, they doused each other with praise.

"He's a dynamic player and a table setter," said Turner, who hit .333 for the series, with two home runs and seven RBIs. "When he goes, we usually go as a team."

"I talk to him as much as I can. He's one of the reasons I decided to make the changes I did," said Taylor, who finished at .316 with two homers and three RBIs. Both men also walked five times, as many as the entire Cubs roster (see full story).

Rare Jackie Robinson rookie jersey up for auction
NEW YORK -- A rare jersey from Jackie Robinson's historic rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers 70 years ago could be available for someone with a few spare millions.

The jersey, part of a Heroes of Sports offering by Heritage Auctions, has been certified by Mears, one of the top memorabilia authentication companies. It is accompanied by a letter from Robinson's widow, Rachel, saying it is the one brought home by the Hall of Famer at the end of the 1947 season, when he became the first black player in the majors and earned Rookie of the Year honors.

"This is the only one known from the `47 season, the only one that survived," Chris Ivy, Heritage's director of sports auctions, told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "It stayed in his closet for five decades plus until it was eventually sold to a private collector in the early 2000s."

The online auction opened Friday and closes at 11 p.m. on Nov. 19. The entire collection is from one owner and can be viewed on Heritage's website. Other items available for bidding include Babe Ruth's pants from the Hall of Fame induction in 1939, Keith Hernandez's 1978 Gold Glove award, a Wilt Chamberlain jersey from 1966, Bill Vukovich's Indianapolis 500 trophy from 1953 and Muhammad Ali's shoes from his fight against Ken Norton in 1973.

Ivy said the Robinson jersey has been valued at more than $3 million. He wouldn't be surprised to see it exceed that.

"It's tough to estimate a piece like this -- it's a one of a kind," he said. "As far as collectibles a rookie (jersey) is always sought after, something that's significant."