Betts, Porcello recipients of 2016 Negro League Baseball Museum Legacy Awards

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Betts, Porcello recipients of 2016 Negro League Baseball Museum Legacy Awards

Although he finished second in the AL MVP voting to Mike Trout, Mookie Betts beat out Trout for separate award -- the 2016 Oscar Charleston Legacy award.

Both he and Kris Bryant -- the 2016 NL MVP -- received the awards from the Negro League Museum as the Most Valuable Players in their respective leagues.

Rick Porcello added to his 2016 hardware, taking home the Wilber “Bullet” Rogan Pitcher of the Year, the Legacy Awards’ equivalent to the Cy Young award. Washington’s Max Scherzer took home the top honors in the NL.

Red Sox-Orioles series expected to begin with closest thing to warnings

Red Sox-Orioles series expected to begin with closest thing to warnings

If you're stupid, you're probably gone.

As standard operating procedure, umpiring crews no longer start series with warnings to either team. So when the Orioles and Red Sox kick off a four-game set at Fenway Park on Monday, technically, no official warning will be in place for the other side.

But the closest thing to a warning likely will be implemented. Umpires are expected to be made specifically aware of the recent history with Manny Machado, Dustin Pedroia and Matt Barnes, a baseball source told CSNNE — a sort of “heads up” that should create very little tolerance for any further drama.

In some situations, MLB reminds teams as well that the expectation is a game be played, not a repeat of past incidents. It’s unclear if that conversation will happen or has happened here.

The way the Red Sox and Orioles were talking after Barnes threw too close to Machado’s head, it sounded like a situation that’s wisely been put to bed. Not forgotten, but not something that requires action as it stands today.

Showalter a week ago Sunday praised his team for not retaliating. Machado, who started it all by spiking Pedroia, showed restraint when the pitch went behind him. Pedroia apologized publicly and dramatically, and Barnes apologized and dropped the appeal of his four-game suspension. (Barnes is to return Sunday.)

No Orioles player was hit by a pitch or hurt in the end. The only one injured was Pedroia. Despite the stupidity of where Barnes’ attempted retaliatory pitch went, it’d be hard to the Orioles to justify needing revenge at this point. If indeed it dies, Pedroia deserves some credit for that.

Zach Britton, who bizarrely questioned Pedroia’s leadership because he was unable to prevent Barnes’ pitch, told BaltimoreBaseball.com the Orioles were waiting to see how the Red Sox move forward. 

“That’s up to them. Well see what they do in Boston,” Britton told reporter Dan Connolly. “I think we’ve talked about it already, as a team, and we’ll see how they choose to act — whether or not they choose to act professionally or unprofessionally when we get to Boston.”

Pedro Martinez said he would have drilled Machado, not because he detected intent for Machado to harm, but because that's nonetheless what happens after you spike another team's player like Pedroia.

"Barnesy did not mean to throw the ball at Machado’s head," Martinez said. "That’s another thing. But the results at the end were the right ones. If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado as much as I love him. And it didn’t matter what happened, the only thing I would have done differently was probably [throw] the ball a little bit lower. But everything else was nature of baseball. I think it’s something that’s going to happen. It’s part of baseball. Hopefully it won’t linger around for too long, or nobody will make it personal.”

Hitting coach Chili Davis is the perfect shoulder for Hanley Ramirez to lean on

Hitting coach Chili Davis is the perfect shoulder for Hanley Ramirez to lean on

Shoulder injuries don’t have to be damning for hitters. Look at the 469-foot home run Hanley Ramirez decimated Saturday in a 7-4 loss to the Cubs.

Yes, he’s gotten off to a slow start. Through 19 games played, he has two long balls.

But he had just one homer through the same number of games in 2016. He’s hitting .250 now. A year ago at this point, he was hitting .266.

“Last year, Hanley started slow,” hitting coach Chili Davis said prior to the Cubs series. “I watched him, work, and work, and work, and work, and you know, he didn’t abandon what he was working on. He didn’t abandon it, he stuck with it and he perfect ed it. And when he perfected it, he went off. He’s still working.

“Timing, consistency with timing, and it could be partially the shoulder bothering him.”

At least eight times in his career, Ramirez has been considered day-to-day or gone to the disabled list because of a shoulder injury. He partially dislocated his left shoulder, his lead shoulder, in 2007.

Hey, did you notice it was 83 degrees at first pitch Saturday?

“When it’s cold, and you’ve got bad joints, it affects you,” Davis said during the week. “When it warms up, it loosens up more.”

Davis knows better than most how to handle shoulder pain, how to be a successful power hitter despite it. The former switch-hitting slugger has a metal screw in his left shoulder after a 1986 surgery.

“For 13 years I played with it,” Davis said. “It was multiple dislocations. I slipped down some stairs in Riverfront Stadium. Grabbed a rail, and dislocated it. It dislocated like five times after this. It was so loose.”

Davis, now 57 years old and last a big leaguer in 1999, still has the screw in that shoulder. Today they make dissolvable ones, but didn't back then.

Believe it or not, Davis believes the surgery helped his righthanded swing. He was a switch-hitter, and batting righty, he liked to hook the ball.

“I’d get out and around,” Davis said. “And then I realized I had to use my top hand more. … It created power the other way for me. It was ridiculous how that happened. I mean, it was ridiculous. 

“Because if you really think about it, [the right] is my strong hand. I do everything with this hand, I eat, I’m a right-handed guy. … Everything right-handed was all over the field.”

Davis said hitters are always aware of their health situations. He remembers coming back from ankle surgery and the bad habits he created. The day he finally let himself act normally, he heard a pop. But it wasn’t trouble: it was merely scar tissue breaking up.

The shoulders are, of course, important. But Davis explained that a swing where the shoulders do most of the work is probably not ideal.

“People talk [about] connection with the backside, feel that connection. Well, that connection creates synchronicity,” Davis said. “Yeah, it creates some power, but you can try to feel connection and lose your hands. Your hands get lost in the process. So they got to work perfect together. 

“But the bigger muscles, to me, were the stop muscles for me. If I was going to swing and I went to stop, that’s when I felt these things holding me back, or the connection holding me back. So just from experience alone, yeah, if the shoulders are involved in your swing, then you’ve got a long swing and your hands aren’t going to work the right way.”

There was a moonshot Saturday that suggested Ramirez’s hands are working properly, and that his shoulder pain need not mean a drop-off from last year.

“I think at times he may [be compensating],” Davis said. “He’s working on things. If he wasn't working, if he came in the cage during BP and I didn’t think that he was working on something, then I’d have a problem with that. But he’s working, and last year he worked and worked and worked until it clicked. So, I’m hoping the same thing happens this year.”