Rosenthal: ‘I wanted the heat’ — Gerrit Cole vs. Rafael Devers, plus more on the Yankees and Red Sox

On Friday, I asked Yankees right-hander Gerrit Cole if, after a night of reflection, he had any more thoughts on Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers, who hit two homers off him the previous night.

“I wish I made him swing at least one fastball,” Cole said. “That’s probably the most definitive thing.”

The person who made that point to him? None other than Cole’s wife, Amy, who was an outfielder with the 2010 UCLA softball team that won the College World Series and obviously has seen her share of major-league games.

“Man, I wanted the heat,” she told her husband.

Of the 11 pitches Cole threw Devers, only three were fastballs. Two were balls, one was a called strike. Devers’ homers came off a slider and changeup.

For his career, Devers is 7-for-23 off Cole with six homers, 15 RBIs, eight strikeouts and two walks.

Trade talks stop for nothing!

Ah, the life of a general manager. On April 2, the day Yankees GM Brian Cashman was inducted into the Catholic University Athletics Hall of Fame in Washington DC, he was in the middle of completing two trades.

Cashman, who once held the Catholic record for most hits in a season, missed the school’s game against Juniata while acquiring reliever Miguel Castro from the Mets. He then held up the Hall of Fame ceremony while getting catcher Jose Trevino from the Rangers.

At one point, Cashman said he considered putting Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels on speaker phone so the attendees could listen in on the discussions, but he thought better of it. He said everyone at the school understood he was busy and actually was quite excited by the action.

Carpenter’s wild ride

Last Friday, Matt Carpenter stood in front of the visitors’ dugout at Fenway Park, pondering his place in the lineup that night.

“I was in Triple A in April. Now I’m hitting third for the Yankees,” Carpenter said. “I just laugh at it. I’m having a blast.”

Carpenter, 36, requested his release from the Rangers on May 19, seeking a better opportunity. His agent, Bryan Cahill, emailed a bunch of contenders informing them of Carpenter’s availability and summarizing his season to date. The vast majority did not respond.

Matt Carpenter (Gregory Fisher / USA Today Sports)

Cahill had spoken with the Yankees about Carpenter in the offseason. After the Yankees re-signed free-agent first baseman Anthony Rizzo, Cahill told their pro scouting director, Matt Ferry: “Good you guys got Rizzo done. Thanks for the interest in Carpenter. You never know what will happen down the road.”

Once Carpenter was released, the Yankees were the only team to reach out to Cahill, unprompted; assistant GM Michael Fishman called the agent before he had a chance to reach out to them. The Braves, Red Sox and a few other clubs expressed interest in Carpenter in response to Cahill’s emails. But none was willing to provide an immediate major-league opportunity.

The Yankees made a formal offer to Carpenter on May 25, wanting him to fly to Tampa immediately and meet them for a series against the Rays starting the next day (Giancarlo Stanton had just joined Josh Donaldson on the injured list and Joey Gallo was out with COVID). Carpenter asked if he could spend the night at home celebrating his daughter Kinley’s sixth birthday. The Yankees said yes. Carpenter flew to Tampa the next morning and was in their lineup that night.

In 77 plate appearances with the Yankees, Carpenter has 10 home runs and a slash line of .344/.447/.859. Here is my story from February on how he remade his swing during the offseason.

Refsnyder resurgent in Boston

The Red Sox targeted Rob Refsnyder early in free agency last offseason, and the 31-year-old journeyman said the Yankees also called him about a possible reunion.

Refsnyder wanted to be part of a winning club, knew Red Sox president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom from his time with the Rays in 2018, and signed a minor-league contract with Boston on Nov. 30.

The Sox liked Refsnyder against lefties and envisioned him becoming a fixture on their bench sooner, but MLB kept pushing back its plan to limit teams to 13 pitchers, forcing them to require fewer position players.

The Yankees, who selected Refsnyder in the fifth round of the 2012 draft, tried to make him an infielder. Refsnyder said he could not have made it to the majors without the help of Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza, who was then a roving defensive instructor in the organization. But he says of his time in the infield, “I just wasn’t very good at it. It stinks.”

He returned to the outfield full-time in 2018.

The value of an area scout

With the draft starting on Sunday, here’s an example of how an area scout, as the foot soldier of a team’s amateur scouting operation, can make a difference for an organization.

Willie Romay is the area scout who covers South Florida for the Red Sox. In 2016, he recommended infielder Santiago Espinal, whom the Sox took in the 10th round and later traded to the Blue Jays for future World Series MVP Steve Pearce. In 2017, Romay pushed for Crawford, whom the Sox took in the 16th round. And in 2018, Romay’s guy was Triston Casas, who became the Red Sox’s first-round pick and is now one of their top prospects.

“That’s some serious impact in a three-year span,” Red Sox vice-president of scouting Mike Rikard said.

Strahm envisions new role in 2023

A free agent after this season, Red Sox lefty reliever Matt Strahm wants to follow the path of Angels right-hander Michael Lorenzen and transition from being a reliever to a starter.

Actually, Strahm says his idol is teammate Rich Hill, who returned to starting full-time in 2015 at age 35, then turned a brilliant four-start run with the Red Sox into increasingly larger free-agent contracts — first, a one-year , $6 million deal with the A’s, then a three-year, $48 million agreement with the Dodgers.

“I’ve got five pitches, and I’m not getting rid of any of them,” Strahm said.

(Photo of Gerrit Cole: Paul Rutherford / USA Today Sports)


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