Blake Treinen

Watch Mookie Betts make incredible throw before costing Dodgers game

Watch Mookie Betts make incredible throw before costing Dodgers game

Mookie Betts might be the best player in baseball not named Mike Trout, and the Los Angeles Dodgers paid him accordingly in locking him up with the second-largest contract in MLB history.

He's going to be in Dodger blue for the next decade-plus, and that's an unfortunate reality for the rest of the league, but specifically the teams in the NL West. As the Dodgers archrival, one could argue the Giants will feel the resulting pain more than anyone.

San Francisco got a taste of what Betts provides to the Dodgers lineup when the two sides split the season-opening four-game series in Los Angeles. He has heated up since, and had his most impressive highlight yet in a Dodger uniform Friday night.

In addition to hitting his first home run with his new club, he also made what might be the defensive play of the season thus far.

Words to the wise, don't run on Mookie.

So, yes, Betts is an amazing two-way player -- just ask Red Sox fans about that. 

However, he's not infallible.

With the visiting Dodgers leading the Arizona 3-1 with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning, Diamondbacks designated hitter Christian Walker squared up a pitch from Blake Treinen and smacked a line drive to right-center. 

Betts -- who previously had been shifted to center field and was already shaded in that direction -- took a bad route to the ball, which sailed over his head and cleared the bases.

[RELATED: What you might’ve missed in Giants' blowout win vs. Rangers]

On one hand, the Dodgers would not have been in the lead if not for Betts' greatness. On the other, his defensive gaffe ultimately cost Los Angeles the game.

Giants fans should revel in the latter while they can, because it's not likely to be a frequent occurrence. 

Why A's closer Liam Hendriks refuses to let himself feel comfortable

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AP

Why A's closer Liam Hendriks refuses to let himself feel comfortable

The A's closer job isn’t up for grabs. It belongs to Liam Hendriks.

That isn’t a fire take or dismissal of other relievers on a quality staff. There’s simply no position battle or thought of one, and rightfully so.

Hendriks was a 2019 All-Star, after all, a right-hander who can reach 96 mph and freeze foes with a "wicked sly-dah." He converted 25 saves for last year’s 97-win A’s team and was a “savior in that bullpen.”

That’s pitching coach Scott Emerson’s opinion, at least. The phrase was followed by more praise for the 31-year old Australian finally coming into his own over a long and winding professional career.

Emerson’s compliment ended with an unwavering vote of confidence.

“Liam has proven that he can get big outs with the game on the line,” Emerson said. “That’s our guy.”

Hendriks would’ve wanted to earmuff it for that last part.

He doesn’t believe he has a job title at this point, with no interest in hearing otherwise. He certainly doesn’t want to be known as, Liam Hendriks: All-Star closer. Definitely not in spring training.

“Oh God, no. I don’t see myself in that regard,” Hendriks said Wednesday. “I’ve told people even heading into this year that I don’t want anything given to me. I’m coming into camp trying to make the team. I’m here to prove I belong and prove that I can fill any role they need me to. I have no idea what my role will be next year, and I need that mindset. I don’t want to become complacent. If I come in assuming that I’ll be given something, even a roster spot, that’s when trouble sets in for me. That’s a sign I’m taking things for granted and I don’t want that. Ever.”

That’s Hendriks’ experience talking. You know his story well, the one where a scrappy right-hander with great stuff was designated for assignment five times but never gave up and finally reached the pinnacle of his profession.

Fellow A’s reliever Jake Diekman believes young players should commit Hendrik's experience to memory and lean on it during tough times trying to make it big.

“Any minor leaguer should look at [Liam] as an example,” Diekman said. “You’re going to get brought up and you could easily get sent back down even if it doesn’t seem warranted. He’s proof that you have to trust your ability and stick with it, because at some point it can all click.”

[RELATED: A's closer Hendriks can relate to Sharks' Jones struggling]

These inspirational, finally-make-it-big baseball stories are often about the convergence of talent and timing. Hendriks was in the midst of a season where he was borderline unhittable while A’s incumbent closer Blake Treinen struggled with injuries and performance. The A’s looked to Hendriks for help, providing save opportunities upon which he capitalized.

He plans to do that again in 2020 for a loaded Athletics squad with high expectations. He plans to earn and convert his chances and be even better than he was a year ago. There’s humility in his words but confidence in his stuff, his demeanor and his ability to persevere.

That last trait is vital and was ultimately learned by doing. Hendriks went through real highs and lows getting to this point, experiences that made him the person and pitcher he is today.

“I spent several years in the minor leagues, a lot more than some and a lot less than others,” Hendriks said. “You sit there and learn and struggle with certain things, but you need perseverance to get through them. There were multiple years where I thought I played well and deserved to move up to the next level and it didn’t happen. It was a humbling experience that taught me to stop worrying about what everyone else does or focus solely on getting called up. Life isn’t always direct or easy or straight forward. You just have to keep on fighting.”

MLB rumors: Blake Treinen, Dodgers agree to one-year, $10M contract

MLB rumors: Blake Treinen, Dodgers agree to one-year, $10M contract

The A's might have thought about bringing Blake Treinen back, but the former All-Star closer will be turning in the green and gold for Dodger blue.

Treinen has agreed to a one-year, $10M contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Wednesday, citing sources.

Treinen broke out in 2018 for the A's, collecting 38 saves while putting up a microscopic 0.78 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP. But 2019 was a tough season for the right-hander. Treinen struggled early and lost his closer job to All-Star Liam Hendriks. 

The right-hander fought to regain his All-Star form from a season ago, but was unable to recapture the magic, putting up a 6.14 ERA during the second half to the season. 

The A's opted to non-tender Treinen last week. General manager David Forst had said the A's remained in contact with Treinen, but it appears the reliever felt a change of scenery was for the best. 

In joining the Dodgers, Treinen becomes part of a bullpen that president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman felt needed an upgrade. All-Star closer Kenley Jansen has seen his effectiveness waver over the past two seasons, and last offseason prize Joe Kelly was inconsistent at best in Year 1 in LA. 

The Dodgers have one of the more complete rosters in baseball, but adding a reliever who can get big outs late in the game is a must for any World Series contender. Whether or not Treinen can return to his 2018 form remains to be seen. 

[RELATED: Semien reiterates preference to stay in Oakland long term]

As for the A's, they still are trying to decide what MVP finalist Marcus Semien's future in Oakland looks like and will turn their attention to filling out the bullpen in due time. 

While there aren't a lot of top-tier relievers on the open market this offseason, the A's should be able to fill Treinen's with a low-cost, high-upside option that Billy Beane has been known to unearth.