New York Yankees’ Luke Voit celebrates after hitting a home run off Oakland Athletics’ Fernando Rodney during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
CHICAGO — When manager Stubby Clapp put pen to paper for his opening day lineup back in April 2018 for Class AAA Memphis, he already had John Gant set to start and, if needed, Daniel Ponce de Leon in relief.
A speedster whose advancement had accelerated once he moved from shortstop to center field and was let loose to steal at Class AA made sense at leadoff. The decision seemed to be whether to follow Oscar Mercado with the lumber company or keep that centralized in the middle of the order. After all, how was he to decide between the slugger who would one day lead the American League in homers, the outfielder who as a rookie would one day be his team’s first to win an AL player of the month award in five years, or the third baseman that would take the NL by storm three years later and win a player of the week award for the rival Cubs?
He’d have to hit one of them eighth, by golly.
Not to mention the hitter who would lead them all in homers that season be touted just a few days ago by his current manager as an All-Star candidate.