Raul Ibanez Named Vice President of Baseball Development & Special Projects for Los Angeles Dodgers

Raul Ibanez is getting a special promotion…

The Los Angeles Dodgers have rehired the 51-year-old Cuban American former professional baseball player, an MLB All-Star in 2009, as their new vice president of baseball development and special projects.

Raul IbanezIbanez spent the past two years working with Major League Baseball as a senior vice president of on-field operations, reporting directly to executive vice president Morgan Sword — who helped spearhead last year’s rule changes — while working on issues related to rules, equipment and on-field technology.

Prior to that, Ibanez spent six years as a special assistant within the Dodgers’ baseball operations department.

Ibanez’s current Dodgers role is full-time, which means he will relinquish his duties with MLB.

Ibanez spent 19 years in the big leagues, accumulating 2,034 hits and 305 home runs while playing for the Seattle MarinersPhiladelphia PhilliesKansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees from 1996 to 2014.

Ibanez’s most productive years were spent in Seattle, but he made his only All-Star team as a member of the Phillies in 2009 and later starred for them in the postseason.

With the Yankees, he had perhaps the most memorable moment of his career, hitting the tying, pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the 2012 American League Division Series then the walk-off homer in the 12th.

Félix Bautista Named the American League’s Reliever of the Year

Félix Bautista is experiencing a bit of relief

The 28-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles was the unanimous winner of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award.

Félix BautistaBautista, nicknamed “The Mountain,” was 8-2 with a 1.48 ERA and 33 saves in 39 chances for the AL East champion Orioles.

The right-hander made his final appearance August 25 and had Tommy John surgery on October 9, which likely will cause him to miss the 2024 season.

Bautista, who made his MLB debut in 2022, was named 2023 MLB-All-Star.

Milwaukee Brewers‘ Devin Williams won the Trevor Hoffman National League honor Wednesday.

Carlos Sainz to Compete in All-Star Match Preceding Upcoming Ryder Cup

Carlos Sainz is swinging into a new sport…

The 29-year-old Spanish racing driver, currently competing in Formula One for Scuderia Ferrari, will step out of his race car and onto the golf course.

Carlos SainzSainz will compete in an All-Star match preceding the upcoming Ryder Cup outside Rome. 

Sainz, Novak Djokovic and soccer players Gareth Bale and Andriy Shevchenko are among those named to compete in the September 27 event by Ryder Cup Europe.

“I can’t wait to tee it up in Rome and experience the incredible atmosphere of a Ryder Cup, which has become legendary,” said Djokovic, a 23-time Grand Slam champion who is currently competing at the US Open.

Actress Kathryn Newton and Super Bowl champion Victor Cruz were also included on the teams that will be led by former Ryder Cup captains Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin.

The Ryder Cup will be held from September 29-October 1 at the Marco Simone course.

At the 2022 British Grand Prix, Sainz took his maiden Formula One pole position and career win. He has ended up on the podium 16 times.

Houston Astros Star Jose Altuve Notches 2,000 Career Hits

Jose Altuve has 2,000 reasons to smile…

The 33-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player and Houston Astros star has notched 2,000 career hits, becoming the third player in franchise history to reach the milestone.

Jose AltuveAltuve hit a leadoff single in the fifth inning against the Seattle Mariners right-hander Logan Gilbert on Saturday night.

He was thrown out trying to stretch the play into a double, but the Minute Maid Park crowd was ready to celebrate.

As Altuve trotted toward the dugout, a 2,000-hit graphic was displayed on the jumbotron and the eight-time MLB All-Star tipped his helmet to the roaring crowd. With the fans still cheering, Altuve stepped up out of the dugout for a curtain call, once again tipping his helmet.

“We did a little champagne toast and they said some things about me and then I had to say some things about me, too,” Altuve said about the postgame clubhouse celebration. “It was good.”

Hall of Famers Craig Biggio (3,060) and Jeff Bagwell (2,314) also reached 2,000 hits with the Astros. They were both in attendance on Saturday night.

Altuve also singled on Gilbert’s first pitch of the game and singled in the seventh, ending the day with 2,001 career hits. He finished 3-for-5 in a 10-3 loss to Seattle.

“That’s quite an accomplishment,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “A couple other Hall of Famers here got 2,000 hits. … Hopefully he can stay healthy and be around for the next 1,000.”

Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen and Chicago White Sox infielder Elvis Andrus also reached 2,000 career hits this season. Andrus got his milestone hit on April 5. Freeman accomplished the feat on June 25, and McCutchen reached the milestone on June 11.

There are seven active MLB players with at least 2,000 hits: Miguel CabreraJoey Votto, Nelson Cruz, Andrus, McCutchen and Freeman.

Miami Marlins Acquire Jorge Lopez from Minnesota Twins

Jorge Lopez is migrating south…

The Minnesota Twins have traded the 30-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball pitcher to the Miami Marlins in exchange for Dylan Floro in a swap of struggling right-handed relievers on contending teams.

Jorge LopezLopez was an MLB All-Star in 2022 with the Baltimore Orioles before being traded to Minnesota at the August trade deadline last year.

The Twins traded pitchers Cade PovichYennier Cano, Juan Nunez and Juan Rojas to Baltimore for Lopez in that deal.

Lopez went 3-2 with a 5.09 ERA in 37 relief appearances for the Twins this season.

He returned from the 15-day injured list earlier this month after stepping away to address his mental health.

Floro is an eight-year big league veteran with a career 3.32 ERA, but the 32-year-old is 3-5 with a 4.54 ERA and seven saves this season.

Floro was a regular out of the bullpen for the 2020 World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Twins are 54-50 and lead the AL Central by two games over Cleveland. Miami is 55-48 and in a tight race for one of the NL‘s three wild-card spots.

Oakland Athletics Designate Jesus Aguilar for Assignment

Jesus Aguilar is on assignment

The Oakland Athletics have designated the 32-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball first baseman for assignment on Monday.

Jesus AguilarAguilar is batting .221 with five home runs and nine RBIs in 36 games this season, his first in Oakland. He was 1-for-20 in his past seven games.

Aguilar is a career .253 hitter with 114 home runs and 402 RBIs in 10 seasons with six teams. He was an MLB All-Star in 2018 with the Milwaukee Brewers, slugging a career-high 35 home runs and driving in a career-best 108 runs.

Julio Rodriguez Named American League Rookie of the Year

Julio Rodriguez’s banner year is ending with an exclamation point…

The 21-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, an outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, has been named the American League Rookie of the Year in near-unanimous fashion.

Julio RodriguezIt was a fitting cap to a stirring campaign that saw J-Rod dazzle at the Home Run Derby, perform among the sport’s best players and propel the Mariners to a long-awaited trip to the playoffs.

Rodriguez received 29 of 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, with Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman receiving the other. Cleveland Guardians left fielder Steven KwanKansas City Royals infielder Bobby Witt Jr. and Houston Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the voting.

Rodriguez electrified the city of Seattle and captivated an entire nation of baseball fans with his youthful exuberance, pronounced swagger and wide-ranging talent. He slashed .284/.345/.509, leading all rookies in homers (28), OPS (.855) and total bases (260) while helping the Mariners clinch their first postseason berth since 2001, snapping the longest active drought among the four major North American professional sports.

Along the way, Rodriguez consistently came through in big spots, dazzling with his defense, power and speed. His 5.3 FanGraphs wins above replacement tied that of Rutschman for the rookie lead and was topped by only 21 position players throughout the sport.

Rodriguez, who added 25 stolen bases and 25 doubles, is now the fifth Mariners player to win rookie of the year, after Alvin Davis (1984), Kazuhiro Sasaki (2000), Ichiro Suzuki (2001) and Kyle Lewis (2020).

Only two other players since 1900 have accumulated at least 28 home runs, 25 stolen bases and 25 doubles in their age-21-or-younger seasons — Mike Trout and Andruw Jones.

Rodriguez is the first player ever to combine 25 home runs with 25 stolen bases in his first season in the big leagues and the third to do so while still rookie eligible, along with Trout and Chris Young, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

The Mariners envisioned Rodriguez as a potential star when they signed him out of the Dominican Republic for $1.75 million in the summer of 2017, but he profiled more as a power-hitting corner outfielder. Rodriguez worked to become a five-tool center fielder, zooming through the Mariners’ minor league system — despite losing an entire season to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 — and cracking the team’s Opening Day roster this spring.

Before the end of August, the Mariners rewarded Rodriguez with a long-term extension that will pay him anywhere between $210 million and $470 million over the life of his career, an unprecedented — and highly incentivized — contract for someone with less than a full year of major league service time.

But before all that came struggle. Rodriguez went homerless with a .544 OPS during his first month in the big leagues. But he recovered well enough to become the only rookie to make the MLB All-Star team.

“I feel like that’s when I learned the most — on the down parts,” Rodriguez said during a video conference with the media after winning the award. “That rough start to the beginning, whenever I maybe was not doing so good, all those things that happened that first year that kind of opened my eyes — I’m gonna take all that. And I know it’s gonna serve me well along my career.”

J.D. Martinez Added to MLB All-Star Game Roster

J.D. Martinez is getting his all-star moment after all…

The 34-year-old Cuban American professional baseball player, a designated hitter for the Boston Red Sox, has been added to the MLB All-Star Game rosters, according to the league.

J.D. Martinez Martinez is part of a roster of new additions that includes Garrett Cooper, and an Francisco Giants ace Carlos Rodon.

Martinez replaces Houston Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez and becomes the third Boston Red Sox player to land on the American League roster along with Xander Bogaerts and have been added to the All-Star rosters, MLB announced Tuesday.

Cooper steps in for reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper. The Philadelphia Phillies‘ star has a fractured thumb. Cooper gives the Miami Marlins three All-Stars as he joins teammates Sandy Alcantara and Jazz Chisholm Jr. 

Rodon was one of the more notable snubs when rosters were announced, but he ends up making his second All-Star appearance by replacing Milwaukee Brewers closer Josh Hader, who has family responsibilities.

Rodon (8-5, 2.70 ERA) was selected by the league to fill in for Hader, while Martinez and Cooper were next up in voting at their positions. This is the fifth time Martinez has been an All-Star, but the first time for Cooper.

Dodger Stadium will host the MLB All-Star Game next Tuesday night at 7:30 pm ET.

Bad Bunny to Compete in This Year’s MLB All-Star Celebrity Softball Game

Bad Bunny’s getting in the game…

The 28-year-old Puerto Rican superstar has been added to the 2022 MLB All-Star Celebrity Softball Game roster, which is set to take place on Saturday, July 16, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Bad Bunny

The “Me Porto Bonito” singer was announced on Monday (July 11) along with a batch of new artists added to the roster that are set to play ball.

Other new celebrities confirmed include actors Bryan Cranston and J.K. Simmons; rapper and chef Action Bronson; four-time all-star and two-time World Series Champion Hunter Pence; and two-time All-Star Shawn Green.

They join a lineup that already includes Quavo, JoJo Siwa, Anthony Ramos, Rob Lowe, Chloe Kim, CC Sabathia and Simu Liu, among others. The first 10,000 fans to enter the ballpark — gates open at 2 p.m. local time — will receive a special All-Star Player Replica Ring presented by FTX, according to a press release.

Game night will culminate with a special performance from chart-topping artist and California-native Becky G for the All-Star Saturday Extra Innings concert presented by MGM Rewards. Tickets are now available here.

The All-Star Celebrity Softball Game, which will be produced by MLB Network, will stream live on YouTube, Peacock, Pluto TV, Bleacher Report and across MLB’s social platforms. MLB Network will air the game on Monday, July 18, at 10:30 p.m. ET, marking the first time MLB Network has televised it.

News of Bad Bunny taking the field comes as his latest album, Un Verano Sin Ti, captures a fourth nonconsecutive week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart (dated July 16).

The set holds at No. 1, notching its first set of back-to-back weeks in the lead. The effort earned 111,000 equivalent album units in the U.S. in the week ending July 7 (down 4%), according to Luminate.

Later this month, the hitmaker will kick off his summer tour with three back-to-back concerts at El Coliseo de Puerto Rico.

Albert Pujols to Participate in This Year’s MLB All-Star Game

Albert Pujols is getting another All-Star moment…

The 42-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball first baseman and designated hitter for the St. Louis Cardinals will take part in the 2022 MLB All-Star Game, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has announced.

Albert PujolsBut he isn’t the only living baseball legend getting called up…

Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers will also participate.

Pujols, Cabrera and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron are the only players in MLB history to register 3,000 hits, 500 home runs and 600 doubles.

“I am delighted that Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera have agreed to participate in the All-Star Game,” Manfred said in a statement. “Albert and Miguel are two of the most accomplished players of their generation. They have also represented the baseball traditions of the Dominican Republic and Venezuela with excellence for the last two decades. Albert and Miguel are two all-time greats whose achievements warrant this special recognition.”

It’s the 11th MLB All-Star selection for Pujols, who is in his 22nd MLB season. He ranks fifth in MLB history with 683 home runs and ninth with 3,326 career hits.

“If there is one game for the fans to celebrate the history and longevity, it’s the All-Star Game,” said Chicago White Sox manager Tony LaRussa, who was Pujols’ manager in St. Louis for seven years. “Anything like that [being selected to participate in the All-Star Game], I’m all in favor of.”

Cabrera, 39, reached 3,000 career hits earlier this season. He’ll be appearing in his 12th All-Star Game.

The slugger called Pujols “one of the best hitters I’ve ever seen in my life.”

“To be part of this together is going to be great,” he said Friday.

The All-Star Game will be held at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Tuesday, July 19.