Connect with us

Published

on

One of the top offensive linemen in the transfer portal has found a new home.

Former Arkansas tackle Andrew Chamblee has committed to SMU, he told ESPN. He’s the No. 6 overall player in ESPN’s transfer portal rankings. At Arkansas in 2023, he earned freshman All-SEC honors.

Chamblee was an ESPN 300 recruit and ranked as the No. 2 overall prospect in Arkansas in 2022. He’s 6-foot-6, 300 pounds and started eight games last season as a redshirt freshman. He’ll have three years of eligibility remaining.

Chamblee marks the 20th power conference transfer that SMU has taken since the opening of the December transfer portal and is arguably the most decorated of all of them. He’s the second offensive lineman from Arkansas, as interior lineman Paris Patterson committed to SMU in recent days.

SMU is coming off an 11-3 season that saw them finish the year ranked No. 22 in the Associated Press postseason poll. SMU enters the ACC next season, a move powered by the school’s wealthy boosters and ambitions to stay relevant in the changing college football landscape.

Continue Reading

Sports

Rangers’ Garcia scratched with forearm soreness

Published

on

By

Rangers' Garcia scratched with forearm soreness

ARLINGTON, Texas — Rangers slugger Adolis Garcia was scratched from the starting lineup Sunday and got an MRI on his right forearm, a day after a collision in the outfield with second baseman Marcus Semien while both All-Star players went after a popup.

Manager Bruce Bochy said the plan had been for García, their primary right fielder, to be the designated hitter in the series finale against the Los Angeles Angels.

“The right forearm area took a pretty good shot there from Marcus, so he’ll get checked out,” Bochy said before the game. “We’ll have an MRI done, see where we’re at. My guess is, I’m hoping anyway, after the day off, he’ll be good to go.”

Bochy, without elaborating, said after their 4-1 loss that the MRI looked good.

The Rangers have a day off Monday before a three-game series at Philadelphia.

Semien was running out and García was coming in on Taylor Ward‘s popup to shallow right field in the sixth inning. Semien collided into García who had pulled up and gone down to a knee to get the ball after it dropped to the ground. Semien took a hard tumble, though both players stayed in and finished the Rangers’ 3-2 win in 13 innings.

García, the American League Championship Series MVP last year, hit his 11th homer of the season in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game at 1-1. He is hitting .251 and his 35 RBIs ranked fourth in the American League this season.

Continue Reading

Sports

Ohtani delivers first walk-off hit as a Dodger

Published

on

By

Ohtani delivers first walk-off hit as a Dodger

LOS ANGELES — Shohei Ohtani delivered his second major league walk-off hit, a two-out single in the 10th inning that sent the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.

Andy Pages hit an early two-run homer for the Dodgers, who have won 20 of 26 after taking three of four from Cincinnati.

Pinch-hitter Will Smith drew a one-out walk in the 10th from Alexis Diaz (1-3), who got Mookie Betts to fly out before Ohtani stroked a single to right, scoring Jason Heyward. Ohtani’s latest feat set off a loud celebration for another huge weekend crowd at Dodger Stadium.

His only other walk-off hit in Major League Baseball was an 11th-inning single for the Los Angeles Angels in a 6-5 win over Houston on Sept. 4, 2020.

It was Ohtani’s 21st multi-hit game this season, the most in MLB. He is hitting .393 this month, the third-highest batting average in MLB among hitters with at least 20 at-bats in May (Kevin Pillar .447, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. .407).

Stuart Fairchild had two hits for the Reds, who have lost 15 of 18. Cincinnati also has lost seven consecutive series.

Anthony Banda (1-0) got three straight outs in the 10th in his debut with the Dodgers, who acquired the reliever from Cleveland on Friday. Banda’s win was his first since May 28, 2022, with Pittsburgh. He has pitched for the Blue Jays, Yankees, Nationals and Dodgers — and played in Cleveland’s minor league system — since leaving the Pirates less than two years ago.

Cincinnati reliever Emilio Pagan left abruptly with two outs in the ninth and a 2-1 count on Heyward. Pagan recorded two outs before throwing three straight fastballs to Heyward and then departing with a possible shoulder injury.

Diaz struck out Heyward to force extra innings.

Hunter Greene struck out eight while pitching four-hit ball into the seventh inning for Cincinnati in his second career start in his hometown. The hard-throwing right-hander got youth coaching at Compton’s Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy and played high school ball in Sherman Oaks before the Reds made him the second overall pick in 2017.

Landon Knack yielded one run on three hits over the first 4⅔ innings for the Dodgers in his fourth major league appearance. Knack made three starts in April, and he got recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City for this spot start apparently so the Dodgers could give a full week of rest to Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

Freddie Freeman singled in the fourth before Pages put a poor slider into the short porch down the left-field line for the fifth homer of his rookie season.

Cincinnati had been shut out for 16 consecutive innings at Chavez Ravine before it scored on back-to-back doubles to left in the fifth by Fairchild and Santiago Espinal, whose catchable drive fooled Teoscar Hernandez.

Cincinnati tied it in the seventh when pinch-hitter Spencer Steer — a Long Beach native in an 0-for-16 slump — drew a bases-loaded walk on nine pitches from Alex Vesia, who escaped the jam.

ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Continue Reading

Sports

‘This fan base is going to fall in love with him’: How Luis Arráez is following in Tony Gwynn’s footsteps

Published

on

By

'This fan base is going to fall in love with him': How Luis Arráez is following in Tony Gwynn's footsteps

Comparisons to Tony Gwynn began to follow Luis Arráez when he first established himself in the big leagues, growing more prevalent as the hits piled up and the batting titles followed. Arráez wasn’t as prolific, but his skills and the way he utilized them — consistently spraying baseballs to unoccupied spaces all over the field, barreling pitches regardless of how or where they were thrown — made links to one of history’s most gifted hitters seem inevitable.

Tony Gwynn Jr., the late Hall of Famer’s son, often heard them and largely understood them. But it wasn’t until the night of May 4, while watching Arráez compile four hits in his debut with the same San Diego Padres team his father starred for, that he actually felt them.

“I honestly had goosebumps watching him put together at-bats,” said Gwynn Jr., a retired major league outfielder who serves as an analyst for the Padres’ radio broadcasts. “It took me back to watching film with my dad as he was basically doing the same thing.”

Gwynn was universally celebrated throughout the 1980s and ’90s, but Arráez stands as a polarizing figure in the slug-obsessed, launch-angle-consumed era in which he plays. Some, like the Miami Marlins team that traded him away earlier this month, see a one-dimensional player who doesn’t provide enough speed, power or defensive acumen to build around. Others, like the Padres, who used four prospects to acquire him at a time when trades rarely happen, see the type of offensive mastery that more than makes up for it.

What’s inarguable is that Arráez is the ultimate outlier.

Case in point: The publicly available bat-speed metrics recently unveiled by Statcast feature a graph that places hitters based on their relationship between average bat speed (X-axis) and squared-up rate (Y-axis). All alone on the top left corner, far removed from the other 217 qualified hitters, is Arráez. He has the slowest swing in the sport but also its most efficient, theoretically, because he meets pitches with the sweet spot of his bat more often than anybody else.

Arráez has only 24 home runs in 2,165 career at-bats. But his .324 batting average since his 2019 debut leads the majors, 10 points higher than that of Freddie Freeman, the runner-up. He walks at a below-average clip, but his major league-leading 7.5% strikeout rate is about a third of the MLB average during that stretch, cartoonish in the most strikeout-prone era in baseball history.

He is elite even when he chases: The major league average on pitches outside the rulebook strike zone since the start of the 2023 season is .162. Arráez’s: .297.

“Now with the analytics they focus on home runs, they focus on guys hitting the ball hard but hitting .200,” Arráez said in Spanish. “But in my mind, and with all the work that I do, I stay focused on just doing my job — not try to do too much or try to do what they’re telling me to do. Analysts say my exit velocity is [among] the lowest in the big leagues. Amen. Let them keep saying that. As long as I have my health, I keep doing things to help my team, I’m going to be fine.”

Arráez became the first player to win a batting title in the American and National leagues in consecutive seasons last year. But trade rumors surrounded him from the onset of 2024, his second-to-last season before free agency. As a 27-year-old two-time All-Star with a .324 career batting average, a sterling reputation and a stated desire to remain in South Florida, he was a player the directionless Marlins franchise could build around. But a new front office considered him expendable. A 9-24 start to the season created an opening. And on May 3, five minutes before the first pitch was thrown in Oakland, Marlins manager Skip Schumaker called Arráez into his office.

“I’m not going to lie to you,” Arráez said, “I wasn’t ready to be traded.”

Schumaker told Arráez he’d have to remove him from the lineup because a deal with the Padres was close. He gave him the option of returning to the clubhouse or going into the dugout for one final moment with his teammates. Arráez stayed until the fifth inning, retreated to his hotel room, waited on a call from Padres officials and hopped on a flight at noon the following day to meet his new team.

Arráez didn’t have enough clothes for the additional six days of the Padres’ road trip. He wore his Marlins-colored cleats through stops in Phoenix and Chicago and compiled eight hits in 20 at-bats during that stretch. After the team got back to San Diego, he used the May 9 off day to search for an apartment and spend time with his mom, wife and three daughters, who flew in for a weekend visit, then delivered a walk-off single against the rival Los Angeles Dodgers in his home debut the following night. He’s still living out of a hotel room crammed with unopened boxes, but he already feels wanted. Embraced, even.

“They’ve welcomed me here with open arms,” Arráez said. “I feel as if I’ve been here since spring training.”

Arráez was a 4-year-old in Venezuela when Gwynn played the final season of his 20-year career in 2001. When Gwynn died in 2014, Arráez was still a teenager on the Minnesota Twins‘ Dominican Summer League team. Hearing comparisons to Gwynn made him curious enough to find old clips of a player who was mostly foreign to him. He began to study his approach to hitting, marveling specifically at Gwynn’s ability to let pitches travel deep into the strike zone before driving them to the opposite field.

Conversations with one of Gwynn’s most important mentors, Twins icon and gifted batsman Rod Carew, brought Arráez more insight. Now similar conversations are taking place with Gwynn’s only son. When the Padres return from their seven-game road trip through Atlanta and Cincinnati, Arráez plans to visit the Gwynn statue that sits just outside of Petco Park. He isn’t necessarily leaning into the comparisons, but he isn’t running from them, either.

“It’s such a great experience when fans embrace you with open arms and tell you that I’m a mini Tony Gwynn, and that I have a lot of traits that remind them of him,” Arráez said. “It’s nice to hear people say things like that.”

Perhaps the quality Gwynn and Arráez share most is self-awareness. “Know thyself” is a line Gwynn Jr. heard his father say repeatedly growing up, one that translated directly to how he approached his profession: He knew his strengths, worked relentlessly to maximize them and never tried to emulate others. Arráez’s new teammates already see the same in him.

“It’s not like he goes up there and just does it,” Padres third baseman Manny Machado said. “He puts a lot of work in the cage, before games, even before BP and stuff like that. He knows his strength, and he works on it.”

Baseball’s evolution has made it harder than ever for someone like Arráez to exist. Pitchers have never thrown harder, data has never been more prevalent, batting averages have hardly ever been lower. But Padres manager Mike Shildt is adamant that Arráez shouldn’t be an anomaly.

He recalled an old San Diego Union-Tribune article that re-ran May 9, on what would have been Gwynn’s 64th birthday. It detailed the amount of time Gwynn spent working on hitting, and it validated something Shildt had long believed: That more players could hit .300, even today, if they worked on the craft of doing so as diligently and as pointedly as Gwynn did. As Arráez does.

“When you have an ability to hit a ball to all the different areas, you’re going to hit,” Shildt said. “And big picture, our industry hasn’t taught that anymore. It’s not valued anymore. It’s not monetized anymore. You can’t quantify this, but it’s a shame how many amateur and lower-level professional players have been excluded from continuing to play because they don’t meet a measurable. They don’t meet an exit velocity or bat speed or launch angle, or all of those things that this game is now basically recruiting and monetizing blindly. They’re just getting hits. And somehow that became out of vogue in our industry in general.”

But those are now someone else’s problems. The Padres will gladly take Arráez, all he his and all he isn’t, and slot him ahead of Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Xander Bogaerts in hopes of riding his singular bat to the playoffs.

Arráez is still six batting titles away from catching Gwynn. He isn’t anywhere near as good a defender or as lethal a baserunner as Gwynn was early in his career, and he needs another decade-plus of similar production — heightened production, actually, given the .345 batting average Gwynn boasted between his ages 27 and 37 seasons — to even approach him as a hitter. But Arráez’s style is the closest we’ve got.

And if there’s one place that can appreciate it, it’s his new one.

“This fan base is going to fall in love with him,” Gwynn Jr. said. “It’s how a lot of them grew up watching baseball.”

Continue Reading

Trending