Reporting from Toronto — For the first time in 50 years, voters for the Gold Glove awards will be required to vote for two corner outfielders in each league. That could boost the candidacy of the Angels' Torii Hunter, who won nine Gold Gloves as a center fielder and is having a solid season in right field.
"Torii's made a switch, which could have been difficult, seamless," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's played terrific right field for us."
Hunter has a career-high 15 assists this season while turning in a number of highlight-reel catches. But under the old voting guidelines, in which all outfielders were lumped together in the balloting, he probably would have been overshadowed by flashier center fielders such as Baltimore's Adam Jones, Detroit's Austin Jackson and teammate Peter Bourjos.
In fact, in the 12 seasons from 1988 to 1999, 34 of the 36 outfield Gold Gloves awarded in the American League went to center fielders. And Scioscia thinks that's wrong.
"They're all distinct positions," he said. "If you're going to do that for outfielders, [when] you give out Gold Gloves for infielders take four shortstops. That doesn't make any sense."
For some players it didn't make any dollars, either. Many contracts include performance clauses that pay bonuses for a Gold Glove. Hunter, for example, gets $100,000 if he wins one. Left fielder Vernon Wells — a three-time winner as a center fielder — had a similar incentive in his last contract.
More important, though, is the prestige the award brings because it's voted on by each league's coaches and managers.
"In the baseball world it carries a lot of weight," Scioscia said. "A lot of those different formulas that are around now for defensive proficiency, I don't think there's anything that's really helping to evaluate what a player does more than watching him play."
Climbing to new heights
Relievers Jordan Walden, Garrett Richards and Scott Downs climbed 36 stories above the Rogers Centre's playing surface Wednesday afternoon, taking the retractable roof's catwalk from the right-field corner to the top of the stands along the third-base line.
"Looking down was like 'Oh, my God! This is ridiculous!'," said Walden, who paused above the pitcher's mound to drop a baseball. "It was awesome. A good experience."
Not for everybody. A frightened Rich Thompson turned back before reaching the roof, and the T-shirt of strength coach T.J. Harrington was soaked with nervous sweat.
"It was fun," said Japanese interpreter Yoichi Terada, who also made the hike. "I thought it would be worse. It wasn't that bad."
If the Angels and Red Sox were to finish the season tied atop the wild-card standings, Boston would play host to a one-game playoff by virtue of its 6-2 record against the Angels this year.
But things get a bit more complicated if the Angels and Rays finish even. The teams split their eight-game season series, so the site of the tiebreaking playoff game would be determined by intradivision record. After being swept in a doubleheader with the Yankees on Wednesday, the Rays are 36-29 in the American League East while the Angels are 26-25 in the West.
Those numbers will change, however, since the Rays play their final seven games in their division — four against the Yankees and three with Toronto — while the Angels have six more games left against West division foes, three with Oakland and three with Texas.
Times staff writer Mike Digiovanna contributed to this report.