Joey Cora to Become Third-Base Coach for New York Mets

Joey Cora has Mets his match…

The New York Mets are on the verge of hiring the 56-year-old Puerto Rican former Major League Baseball player, who had an 11-year career in the MLB, as their new third-base coach, ESPN reports, confirming a report by the New York Post.

Joey Cora,

Cora, the older brother of Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, spent five years as third-base coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates before being let go at the end of the 2021 season.

In New York, he’ll become the first coach hired under Buck Showalter, who took over as the team’s manager less than three weeks ago.

The Mets retained Jeremy Hefner as their pitching coach but are still in the process of filling vacancies at bench coach, hitting coach and first-base coach, among others.

Cora was a major league middle infielder from 1987 to 1998, making an MLB All-Star team late in his career, then transitioned into coaching shortly thereafter. Cora began as a manager in the Mets’ minor league system and later spent eight years with the Chicago White Sox under Ozzie Guillen, winning a World Series as the team’s third-base coach in 2005. Cora was also Guillen’s bench coach with the Miami Marlins in 2012 and has often interviewed for managerial jobs throughout his post-playing career.

Cora will now replace Gary DiScarcina, who was let go amid the shake-up that followed the firing of former Mets manager Luis Rojas. Rojas is now the New York Yankees‘ third-base coach, while DiSarcina has the same position with the Washington Nationals.

Yasiel Puig Signs One-Year, $1 Million Contract with South Korea’s Kiwoom Heroes

Yasiel Puig is a new Hero…

The 31-year-old Cuban former Major League Baseball outfielder has signed a one-year, $1 million contract with South Korean club Kiwoom Heroes.

Yasiel Puig

Puig hasn’t played in the MLB since 2019, when he played 100 games for the Cincinnati Reds and 49 for the Cleveland Indians before becoming a free agent.

Ko Hyung-wook, the general manager of the Seoul-based Heroes, said Puig’s past season in the Mexican League, where he batted .312 and hit 10 home runs for El Aguila de Veracruz, showed that his skills remained “excellent.”

Ko said Puig still has an interest in making a return to the big leagues and hoped that his drive to prove himself will have a positive impact on his Korean teammates. Ko downplayed concerns about Puig’s maturity, saying he came away with the impression that the former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder was “devoted to family, and mature” after their personal talks.

Puig batted .277 with 132 home runs and 415 RBI while appearing in seven major league seasons, the first six with the Dodgers where he earned an MLB All-Star selection in 2014.

Puig’s offensive production regressed in the following years and he also developed a reputation for erratic on-field behavior, finding himself in the middle of several bench-clearing incidents. He was suspended three games in 2019 for his involvement in a brawl against the Pittsburgh Pirates in his last game as a Red, an altercation that happened just moments after the team traded him to the Cleveland Indians.

Puig was reportedly in talks for a deal with the Atlanta Braves last year before he announced via Twitter in July 2020 that he tested positive for COVID-19.

The Heroes finished fifth among 10 clubs in the Korea Baseball Organization in this year’s regular season and were eliminated by crosstown rivals Doosan Bears in the first round of the postseason.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Becomes MLB’s Youngest Hank Aaron Award Winner

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is making MLB history…

The 22-year-old Dominican-Canadian professional baseball infielder for the Toronto Blue Jays has been named the winner of the 2021 American League Hank Aaron Award.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

He’s the youngest player to win the award, and only the fourth Blue Jay to receive the honor.

Guerrero hit .311/.401/.601 with 48 home runs, 111 RBIs, 123 runs scored and 363 total bases. He led MLB in runs and total bases, tied for the Major League Baseball lead in homers and paced the AL in on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. Guerrero was also a first-time MLB All-Star in 2021.

“I’m very proud to be able to work hard and have my hard work shine through with an award like this,” Guerrero said on the MLB Network broadcast, via interpreter Alanna Rizzo. “I’m very proud and very happy.”

Bestowed annually since 1999, the Hank Aaron Award honors the best overall offensive performer in each league. Guerrero is the fifth Blue Jays hitter to win the award, and the first since Josh Donaldson in 2015. Bryce Harper received this year’s honor in the National League.

This year’s other AL finalists were Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins, Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani, A’s first baseman Matt Olson, Royals catcher Salvador Perez and Cleveland third baseman José Ramírez.

The award is decided by a special panel of Hall of Fame players from a list of seven finalists in each league, which is determined by a panel of MLB.com writers. Each team submits a candidate.

Previously, Aaron helped select the panel of Hall of Famers who voted for the award winner. Aaron died in January at age 86. Aaron’s widow, Billye, spoke of her husband’s legacy on MLB Network’s announcement show.

“He did so much to enhance many causes,” Billye Aaron said. “We sat and talked about trying to help kids, who, like Henry was at the time, were trying to find themselves and follow their dreams.”

Said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred: “While Hank Aaron’s impact on the field was so significant we named an on-field achievement award after him, he was so much more than an all-time great baseball player. He was a successful baseball executive, businessman, social activist, philanthropist, baseball ambassador, role model and a loving husband and father.”

Minnie Miñoso Among 10 Men Nominated by Golden Days Era Committee for MLB’s Hall of Fame

The late Orestes “Minnie” Miñoso is having a golden moment…

The late Cuban professional baseball player, who was known as “The Cuban Comet” and “Mr. White Sox,” is among the 10 men on the ballot of the Golden Days Era committee for baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Minnie MiñosoMiñoso, who died in March 2015, began his baseball career in the Negro leagues in 1946 and became an All-Star third baseman with the New York Cubans.

He was signed by the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball (MLB) after the 1948 season as baseball’s color line fell. Miñoso went on to become an All-Star left fielder with the Indians and Chicago White Sox. The first Black Cuban in the major leagues and the first black player in White Sox history, as a 1951 rookie he was the one of the first Latin Americans to play in an MLB All-Star Game.

Minnie MiñosoMiñoso was an American League (AL) All-Star for seven seasons and a Gold Glove winner for three seasons when he was in his 30s.

In addition to Miñoso’s name, the Golden Days Era ballot also includes Gil Hodges, Roger Maris, Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Jim Kaat, 83-year-old Cuban former professional baseball right fielder, designated hitter and coach Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce and Maury Wills also are on the ballot along with former Pittsburgh manager Danny Murtaugh, the Hall said.

The vote by the 16-person committee, whose members will be announced later, is scheduled for December 5 at the winter meetings in Orlando, Florida. Its ballot considers players whose primary contributions were from 1950 to ’69.

A separate 16-person early baseball era committee also will meet to consider pre-1950 candidates. Its ballot includes seven players from the Negro Leagues: John Donaldson, Bud Fowler, Vic Harris, Grant “Home Run” Johnson, Buck O’Neil, Dick “Cannonball” Redding and George Scales.

They are joined by Bill Dahlen, Lefty O’Doul, Allie Reynolds and George Scales.

To gain election from either committee, a candidate must appear on at least 75% of ballots.

Anyone elected will be inducted in Cooperstown on July 24 along with any players elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, whose balloting will be announced January 25.

First-time BBWAA ballot eligible players include David Ortiz, Ryan Howard, Tim Lincecum and Alex Rodriguez.

Steroids-tainted stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will be on the BBWAA ballot for the final time.

Hodges, an eight-time All-Star first baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers and manager of the 1969 World Series champion New York Mets, received 63.4% of the ballots in 1983, falling 44 votes shy of election in his final appearance on the BBWAA ballot.

Miñoso peaked at 20.9% in his second BBWAA ballot appearance in 1986. He got just 14.7% in his final appearance in 1999.

Maris, a two-time AL MVP who hit 61 home runs in 1961 to break Babe Ruth‘s single-season record, received 43.1% in his final BBWAA ballot appearance in 1988.

Candidates for the early-days balloting were picked by a special early baseball overview committee of five Negro Leagues historians — Gary Ashwill, Adrian Burgos Jr., Phil Dixon, Leslie Heaphy and Claire Smith — and five BBWAA members who have served on the Hall’s historical overview committee: Jim Henneman, Steve Hirdt, Rick Hummel, Jim Reeves and Glenn Schwarz.

Candidates for the golden era vote were selected by Henneman, Hirdt, Hummel, Reeves, Schwarz, Bob Elliott, Dave O’Brien, Jack O’Connell, Tracy Ringolsby, Susan Slusser and Mark Whicker.

The Today’s Game Committee (1988 to present) will consider candidates in December 2022 and the Modern Baseball Committee (1970-87) will meet in December 2023.

Albert Pujols to Play in Dominican Professional Baseball League This Winter

Albert Pujols is heading south for the winter…

The 31-year-old Dominican professional baseball and Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman is ready to fulfill a promise of playing in the Dominican Professional Baseball League this winter, while reiterating his interest in playing in the majors until “I feel I can’t play anymore.”

Albert Pujols

Pujols, who was officially introduced late last week as the newest player on the Leones del Escogido, will see action for the first time in the Dominican Republic.

“I made a promise,” Pujols said. “I said I was going to play here before I retire. But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to retire yet. My time to retire hasn’t arrived yet. Why do I have to retire because someone tells me to? I’m going to do it on my terms and when I feel I can’t play anymore.”

Pujols played 109 games in his 21st season in the majors, which ended when the Atlanta Braves beat the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. He said he has a “game plan” in mind for the number of games that he will be playing in the Dominican league.

“I have an agreement with the team board. I have a family, commitments,” Pujols said. “I will play the games that my body allows me, but I will be helping the team in whatever it needs.”

Pujols added: “When Albert Pujols gets tired of playing baseball, that’s it. I’m not going to go out there and embarrass myself. I’ve trained really hard and worked on my body to be able to have a good career. … I know what I can do.”

The Santo Domingo native, who turns 42 in January, was drafted in 2002 by the Gigantes del Cibao in the LIDOM, but he never played winter baseball in the Dominican Republic, where the season ends in January.

“Since I was a child I always wanted to play at the Quisqueya Stadium. It is a dream come true,” Pujols said.

Pujols was greeted by his teammates and executives at the Leones Stadium when he arrived for his presentation and first practice with the team.

“Bringing Pujols to the local ball is an organization-wide effort for the good of our baseball and shows everyone’s commitment in this centennial year of the team,” Leones general manager Jose Gomez Frias said in a statement.

Pujols will wear the No. 5, which is retired by the team in honor of Leones legend Junior Noboa, but Noboa will allow Pujols to wear it. Noboa, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians, among other MLB teams, is currently the baseball commissioner for the Dominican Republic.

A 10-time MLB All-Star, Pujols’ 679 career home runs are fifth-most all-time and most among active players. He won World Series championships with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006 and 2011.

Jose Altuve Homers to Tie for Second on MLB’s All-Time Playoff Home Run Leaderboard

Jose Altuve has batted his way into the Major League Baseball history books…

During Game 2 of the World Series, the 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player and Houston Astros second baseman hit a home run off a first-pitch fastball from Drew Smyly, leading off the bottom of the seventh by sneaking a fly ball just inside the left-field pole for a 7-2 Astros lead.

Jose Altuve

It was Altuve’s 22nd career home run in the postseason, tying him with Bernie Williams for second on the all-time list.

The two trail behind Manny Ramirez‘s 29 postseason homers.

While Williams did it in 121 games, Altuve has required just 75. Altuve had struggled in the ALCS, hitting .125 (although with two home runs), and then went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in Game 1.

He then turned around and gave Houston two big swings in Game 2 on Wednesday night — including an historic one.

“To hit 22 homers in the playoffs and tie him — always every time that my name is mentioned, before it was Derek Jeter, now it’s Bernie Williams — it means a lot to me,” Altuve said. “It makes me keep going out there, hitting homers to help my team, to keep accomplishing things like this. As long as we win, everything’s good.”

Overall, the 2017 American League MVP Award winner is Houston’s all-time leader in postseason hits (88), runs (66) and home runs (22), and this year, he became the fastest player in MLB history to hit 20 postseason home runs when he went deep in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox.

Nelson Cruz Receives Major League Baseball’s Roberto Clemente Award

Nelson Cruz is being celebrated for his charity…

The 41-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball designated hitter and right fielder for the Tampa Bay Rays has been awarded Major League Baseball‘s Roberto Clemente Award for his character, community involvement and philanthropy.

Nelson Cruz

Cruz, the 50th winner of the honor, received the award before World Series Game 2 on Wednesday night.

“Growing up as a Latin, you always heard about Roberto Clemente,” he said. “I never had a chance to see him play. I knew what a great player he was. Once I came to the States I found out, oh, he’s not only a good player, he’s a great human being.”

Cruz, a 17-year MLB veteran and seven-time MLB All-Star, provided financial support to 1,200 families in his hometown of Las Matas de Santa Cruz, Dominican Republic, during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping feed 700 families.

After a fire destroyed the home of a childhood friend, Cruz provided the town with a fire engine, 80 firefighter uniforms and an ambulance for transportation for people to the nearest hospital, which is about an hour away.

His Boomstick23 Foundation began construction of an education and technical center last year and he will stock the center with computers to assist athletes in their education.

Cruz also organizes dentists and optometrists to go the town’s clinic for checkups, medicine and eyewear, and 500 patients received dental services last year.

He helped arrange for MLB, the Major League Baseball Players Association and the union’s Players Trust to donate $400,000 to the Dominican Republic for medical equipment and food aid during the pandemic.

“We first started with the dental clinic, and the next year we started asking how we can do the mental [health] and the eye doctors,” he said. “We started doing everything all at the same time. We even went to schools and provided kids with all the books and stuff that they need.”

Cruz was nominated by the Minnesota Twins, who traded him to the Rays  in July. He joined Hall of Famers Rod Carew (1977), Dave Winfield (1994) and Kirby Puckett (1997) as Minnesota players to win the award.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Among the Finalists for the MLB’s Hank Aaron Award

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is in the running for a coveted MLB award…

The 22-year-old Dominican-Canadian professional baseball player and designated hitter for the Toronto Blue Jays has been named a finalist for the Hank Aaron Award, the first since the legend’s death.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Guerrero is a finalist alongside Shohei Ohtani, Bryce HarperJuan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr.

The winners of the award, which was established in 1999 by Major League Baseball to honor the best offensive player in each league, will be announced in November.

Ohtani, the favorite for American League MVP, is the first player who also pitches ever nominated. In addition to Ohtani and Guerrero, New York’s Aaron Judge, Baltimore’s Cedric Mullins, Oakland’s Matt Olson, Kansas City’s Salvador Perez and Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez are the American League nominees.

Joining Harper, Soto and Tatis in the National League are Cincinnati’s Nick Castellanos, San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford, Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman and St. Louis’ Paul Goldschmidt.

In a phone interview, Billye Aaron, who was married to Hank Aaron for 48 years, said her husband “was always very excited about the award itself and, of course, very excited about the World Series because, during that time, before every fourth game, he had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know and shake hands with the winners.”

The voting panel includes eight Hall of Fame players — including new voters Chipper Jones, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz — as well as a fan vote.

Aaron, MLB’s longtime home run king and one of the most beloved and respected players in the game’s history, died in his sleep in January.

“I’m still in a state of grief beyond measure,” Billye Aaron said. “I’m doing OK. I have some difficulty many days. But like everybody else, when you come to this stage in your life, you have to learn to cope with it. You can’t change it. You can’t do anything about God’s will. So you learn to accept it and learn to go on.

“I miss him so very, very much. I loved him so very, very much.”

Aaron, she said, would have been particularly excited for the NL Division Series that starts Friday between the two MLB teams for whom he played: the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers. Aaron played his first 12 years for the Milwaukee Braves before they moved to Atlanta, where he spent nine seasons. A two-year stint with the Brewers wrapped up his career.

“He loved Milwaukee. He loved the Milwaukee Braves. He loved the Milwaukee Brewers,” Billye Aaron said. “And he loved, of course, the Atlanta Braves. He probably would’ve had some difficulty not rooting for both teams. The team that is your bread and butter — you probably would fall into that category. And being on the staff as well. So he probably would have to pull for Atlanta. But I know he had a strong fondness for the Milwaukee team.”

MLB intended to honor Aaron in Atlanta at July’s All-Star Game. Blowback from Georgia’s new voting-rights laws, however, prompted MLB to shift the game to Denver’s Coors Field, where Freeman and Judge escorted Billye Aaron onto the field for the ceremony that celebrated her husband.

While MLB weathered criticism for the choice, Billye Aaron said “it was the right thing for Major League Baseball to do.”

“In light of the political situation going on then and continuing to go on now,” she said, “the decision to move the All-Star Game out of the city of Atlanta, in spite of the impact that it would have on Atlanta and on the businesses that were preparing for the great game — I still think Major League Baseball did exactly what it needed to do in recognizing that racism can overrule some things.”

Salvador Perez Ties Johnny Bench’s Record for Homers in a Season by a Catcher

Salvador Perez is rewriting history…

The 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball catcher and Kansas City Royals slugger has tied Johnny Bench‘s record for homers in a season by a catcher with his 45th in a 7-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Thursday.

Salvador Perez

Perez hit a two-run homer in the first inning, matching Bench’s total from 1970 for the most by a player who played at least 75% of his team’s games at catcher.

Perez is tied with Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Major League Baseball lead in homers and also leads the MLB with 112 RBIs.

“We’re witnessing a special season,” manager Mike Matheny said. “We’re witnessing a special player. To be able to be put in the conversation with one most would say is the best ever is pretty rare.”

His talent is not lost on the opposition.

“Salvador, it seems like he’s hitting a home run a day against everybody,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “You can’t miss against him right now.”

Perez is three homers away from matching Jorge Soler‘s team record from 2019. Soler extended the Royals’ record by 10. Perez also tied Mike Sweeney for second on the club’s all-time list with 197 home runs. George Brett holds the club record with 317.

After bouncing back from an elbow injury that caused him to miss all of the 2019 season with an elbow injury, Perez has been on a tear. His 56 home runs in 2020 and 2021 are the most in MLB over that span, while his 144 RBIs rank third.

If Perez, Guerrero and Shohei Ohtani (44) — from Venezuela, Canada and Japan, respectively — are atop the home run leaderboard until the season’s end, it will be the first time in MLB history that the top three leaders were all born outside the United States, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Vince Velasquez Signs Minor League Contract with San Diego Padres

Que padre(s)! Vince Velasquez is heading back to the mound…

The 29-year-old Latino professional baseball pitcher, a right-hander, has signed a minor league contract with the San Diego Padres.

Vince Velasquez

Velasquez, who was released by the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday, is expected to be added to San Diego’s active 28-man roster this weekend in St. Louis and make a start during the three-game series against the Cardinals, the Padres said.

A seven-year veteran, Velasquez, 29, is 3-6 with a 5.95 ERA this season.

He previously played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies.