Moya Hits First Multi-Home Run Game Against the Seattle Mariners

It’s one milestone after another for Steven Moya

The 24-year-old Puerto Rican baseball player, an outfielder for the Detroit Tigers, reached one milestone this week — hitting his first home run in the club’s last road series against the Kansas City Royals.

Steven Moya

And it only took him three days before reaching another significant achievement — a multi-home run game.

With an extended stay in right field following the injury to regular outfielder J.D. Martinez, who is sidelined four to six weeks with a fractured elbow, Moya is making sure that the Tigers aren’t experiencing any drop-off at the plate.

The 6-foot-7, 260-pound prospect flashed his power at Comerica Park, going deep in both the fourth and fifth innings of the Tigers’ 5-1 win over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night.

Moya admitted he felt a little bit of pressure alleviated after recording his first home run at Kauffman Stadium, which bolstered his confidence in his ability to produce at the major league level.

“After the first one, it was like, ‘OK, I can hit home runs here,’” Moya said. “It feels good. I just try to repeat it over and over and try to get a good pitch to do it. That’s what I try to do.”

Following his solo shot in the fourth inning, Moya showed his range and versatility by going opposite field in the next frame, launching an 83 mph changeup to left field to give the Tigers a four-run lead.

“He’ll go to all fields. That’s not a rarity for him,” manager Brad Ausmus said.

Ausmus is even more impressed by the progress Moya has made on his discipline at the plate, which has previously been a concern for him while down in the minors.

“He’s worked very hard to be more selective in his swings, to lay off pitches outside of the zone, cut down his strikeouts. He’s done a nice job,” Ausmus said. “He had a good year two years ago, kind of a breakout year. Last year was a bit of a down year for him, and this year, he’s picked up right where he was in 2014.”

Moya’s production couldn’t come at a better time for the Tigers. They could have been left reeling in the wake of the injury to Martinez, who led the team last season with 38 home runs.

Regular reps, and the knowledge that he won’t be just shuttling back and forth from Toledo this time around, has been beneficial for Moya, but he insists he doesn’t view this as an audition to prove his value to the organization.

“I think that they already know what I can do,” Moya said. “I don’t have anything to prove. I just have to play and have fun and let God take care of the rest.”

Volquez Agrees to Two-Year Deal with the Kansas City Royals

Edinson Volquez has landed a royal deal…

The 31-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher has finalized a $20 million, two-year contract with the Kansas City Royals.

Edinson Volquez

Volquez’s deal includes a mutual option for the 2017 season and was announced this week during a brief news conference at Kauffman Stadium.

The right-handed Volquez, coming off one of the best seasons of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, will make $7.5 million this season and $9.5 million next season. The option year would be worth $10 million and carries with it a $3 million buyout.

“I want to be here and help the team win some games, the way they did last year,” Volquez told reporters. “We did in Pittsburgh, too, but Kansas City went a little bit farther. They almost won the World Series. Why not do it here?”

The Royals have already signed designated hitter Kendrys Morales and outfielder Alex Rios to fill two of their most pressing needs. They also signed pitcher Kris Medlen, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and could help contribute midway through the season.

Volquez fills the last big hole by taking James Shields‘ place in the rotation. Shields became a free agent and it was unlikely the Royals would be able to keep him.

“We know full-well we’ll have to continue to make adjustments on our roster. It’s not a push-button club, it never was,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said recently. “But right now we feel like we’re in a good position to start spring training and to start the season.”

Volquez was an All-Star for the Cincinnati Reds in 2008, going 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA. But he struggled with injuries and inconsistency the next few seasons, and started bouncing around the league.

He spent 2012 and part of the 2013 season with the San Diego Padres, finished up that season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and then joined Pittsburgh last season, where he seemed to resurrect his career.

Volquez went 13-7 with a career-best 3.04 ERA, and his 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio was among the best of his career. Volquez also ended the season with a career-best 18 straight scoreless innings, and had a 1.08 ERA in September.

Volquez was 9-1 with a 1.85 ERA after June 23, spanning his final 17 starts.

Volquez should slot into a starting rotation that includes young fireballer Yordano Ventura, left-handers Danny Duffy and Jason Vargas and veteran right-hander Jeremy Guthrie.

Santana to Perform Instrumental Version of the National Anthem at the World Series

Carlos Santana is ready to play ball… 

The 67-year-old Mexican musician is among the entertainers scheduled to perform the National Anthem at the 2014 World Series, according to Fox officials.

Carlos Santana

Santana, a multiple Grammy winner considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time, joins a roster that includes American Idol season 11 winner Phillip Phillips, Trisha Yearwood and Little Big Town.

Yearwood will kick things off Tuesday, singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Game 1 when the San Francisco Giants face the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.

Phillips will make his second appearance singing at a World Series when he takes the mic before Game 2 on Wednesday. He last appeared in 2012, the year he won American Idol, when the Giants faced the Detroit Tigers.

The series moves to San Francisco on Friday with country group Little Big Town.

Santana then takes the 4 p.m. slot on Saturday for Game 4, when he performs an instrumental version of the song.

The games will air on Fox at 8:00 pm ET.

Rivera Seals the (One-Year) Deal with the New York Yankees…

It’s official… Mariano Rivera is heading back to the pitching mound at Yankee Stadium

The 43-year-old Panamanian relief pitcher has finalized a one-year deal with the New York Yankees reportedly worth a guaranteed $10 million. With incentives, Rivera’s paycheck could come close to the $15 million he was paid last year if he can stay healthy all season long.

Mariano Rivera

Rivera made only nine appearances in 2012. His season ended with him writhing on the warning track in Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City on May 3 after tearing the ACL in his right knee while catching batting practice flies.

“Like I’ve been saying, I didn’t want to go out like that,” Rivera said in a statement released by the team. “I didn’t want that to be the last image.”

In Rivera’s absence last season, Rafael Soriano stepped onto the mound and saved 42 games in 46 opportunities.

But Soriano opted out of the final year of his contract to become a free agent, leaving the Yankees with one option: Rivera, the man who has saved more games (608) than any closer in the history of baseball and a pitcher widely considered to be the best at his job in the history of the game.

Likewise, Rivera had made it clear that he had no interest in pitching for any other team but the Yankees, for whom he has pitched his entire 17-year major league career.

In his nine appearances before his injury last season, Rivera was 1-1 with five saves — he had a blown save on Opening Day and was perfect thereafter — with an ERA of 2.16. He allowed just two earned runs, both of them in the opening day loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, in 8 1/3 innings pitched.

Before last season, Rivera had strung together four straight seasons with a sub-2.00 ERA, and his career ERA of 2.21 is the second-lowest in baseball history among pitchers with at least 1,000 innings pitched since the stat became official in 1913.

But in 2013, he will be trying to do what no relief pitcher has ever done before, be an effective closer after his 43rd birthday. Among the 10 pitchers with the most saves in baseball history, only one, Dennis Eckersley, had a save after he turned 43, and all he had was one.