Tag:AL Central
Posted on: March 7, 2011 1:56 pm
 

Zumaya struggling with injuries, again

By C. Trent Rosecrans

One of the saddest career arcs we've seen in the last few years is that of Tigers' fireballer Joel Zumaya, who has dealt with a multitude of injuries since his debut in the big leagues in 2006.

As a 21-year old rookie, Zumaya was the Tigers' set-up man, coming in throwing 100 mph hour and blowing batters away. As a rookie, he went 6-3 with a 1.94 ERA with 97 strikeouts in 83 1/3 innings. He's thrown just 126 1/3 innings since then.

Joel ZumayaSince then, he's been beset by injuries, including last year's horrific elbow injury on the mound that cut short his best season since his rookie year.

This spring, he's been bothered by his surgically repaired elbow, appearing in just one game due to pain in the elbow and forearm soreness.

Tigers pitching coach Rick Knapp told MLive.com's Steve Kornacki that Zumaya recently had an MRI and was seen by doctors, but has yet another doctor's visit lined up. He would not say if that appointment was with Dr. James Andrews, who has worked on Zumaya's arm before.

"Nothing has shown up out of the ordinary on the tests," Knapp said. "He went full-bore and had discomfort. It's in the doctor's hands now.

"He's got hardware in his elbow and that can't be good. But plenty of guys have come back from it. Joel has that high-torque delivery that generates so much stress. It's an oddity. And when you suffer an injury, you always want to protect it."

Zumaya wouldn't answer questions about his injury, Kornacki writes.

The Tigers tendered Zumaya a contract this offseason in hopes he could stay healthy, but he has said in the past he'd consider retirement if he got hurt again. He is scheduled to make $1.4 million this season.

Earlier this spring he referred to himself as a "China Doll," and there's a sad truth to what was then meant as a joke. It seems the human body just isn't designed to do what Zumaya can do with a baseball, and sadly it may never be able to do it again, at least on a regular basis.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 7, 2011 9:24 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:31 pm
 

Pepper: Raise a glass


By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Orioles are a trendy pick to be better in 2011, and they should be. But no matter how the Orioles do on the field, things will be better this season in Baltimore because Natty Boh is back.

Before the take-over of the beer industry by the big brewing companies, regional beers were king -- be it National Bohemian (known as Natty Boh in Baltimore) in the mid-Atlantic, Hudepohl in Cincinnati or Hamm's in Minnesota.

These were different than the great microbrews of today, they were the macrobrews of yesterday. It's what you remember your grandpa dinking, whether it was an Olympia in Washington or an Old Style in Chicago. These were American, working-class beers. And they belonged with baseball, at the ballpark and at home, listening along to the local nine on the radio.

Well, one of these greats, National Bohemian, is back where it belongs, at the ballpark at Camden Yards. And for that, America and baseball are better than they were before. (Baltimore Sun)

For more fun, check out this video of old Natty Boh commercials (with an added bonus of Maryland history):

GARDNER MAY PUSH JETER FROM LEADOFF: The Yankees front office wants Brett Gardner, not Derek Jeter, leading off, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News writes.

Jeter has batted first or second for most of his career, but it seems natural to put the speedy Gardner atop the lineup. Gardner had a .383 on-base percentage last season, along with 47 stolen bases. He also saw an MLB-best 4.6 pitchers per plate appearance, giving him a good case to bat first for the Yankees.

HOLD 'EM OR FOLD 'EM: Boston's Mike Cameron had his name thrown around a bit this weekend after Philadelphia lost Domonic Brown to a hand injury, but with J.D. Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury roaming the outfield, is it wise for the Red Sox to get rid of any outfielder?

Although Cameron is making $7.5 million this season, that would hamper many other teams, but not the Red Sox. Cameron is also a rarity in the Red Sox clubhouse, a right-handed hitter. (Boston Globe)

HART SIDELINED: Brewers right fielder Corey Hart missed the last week after straining a muscle in his side. He was expected to miss two weeks, but after a setback during a throwing exercise on Saturday, Hart said he doesn't expect to be back in the original timeframe.

However, manager Ron Roenicke said he expects Hart to be ready for opening day. (MLB.com)

MOM KNOWS BEST: Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli said he was feeling sorry for himself after suffering a broken bone in his left foot, until his mother set him straight.

"I woke up positive and [said] 'Let's do it,'" Cervelli told the New York Daily News. "That's it. Start the work, the therapy and get better. A lot of people in the world don't have legs or arms; I'm healthy. I just have something in my foot, but it's going to be OK."

MONTERO MAY BACKUP: Cervelli's injury may have opened the door for Yankees top prospect, Jesus Montero.

Many thought the Yankees would want him to play every day and not have him break camp just to back up Russell Martin. One who doesn't buy that theory, apparently, is Brian Cashman.

"There is a lot of knowledge that a catcher has to absorb that you just won't get at Triple-A," Cashman told FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. "If it's the second week of April and he has only pinch-hit or started one game, I won't consider it a lost week. There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes that he has never experienced before.

"He can watch, see how [Martin] goes through it -- pre-game, advance scouting meetings, all those things. When he gets in there in the future, he'll be fully prepared, rather than just sink or swim."

The Yankees know Montero's bat can play right away, but many question his ability to stick behind the plate.

TRADE STUNG SAUNDERS: Former first-rounder Joe Saunders said he was upset last season when the Angels traded him to Arizona.

"I was pissed off. I'm not going to lie to you," Saunders told the Orange County Register.

Saunders said it was weird heading into the visitor's clubhouse at Tempe Diablo Stadium, the Angels' spring training home.

MULLET MANIA: Travis Schlichting has the greatest mullet in baseball history, and Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan has the story.

AUTHOR-PITCHER: Rays reliever Dirk Hayhurst -- better known as the author of The Bullpen Gospels than anything he's done on the field -- said he's walked a fine line between being truthful and writing a tell-all.

Hayhurst's often hilarious characters in the book (really, it's worth checking out, a fun, quick read), are real, but he doesn't name names. He's also working on a second book and has a contract for a third, but those will also be done in his particular style, where the only specific player you get dirt on is Hayhurst himself.

The Rays seem like a perfect fit, if only for the fact that when asked about Hayhurst, manager Joe Maddon used the word "ameliorated" in his response. (St. Petersburg Times)

OLIVO CONFIDENT: Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo had a scare on Saturday when he pulled up lame with a hamstring injury and had to be helped off the field. Olivo will have an MRI today, but he told reporters on Sunday that he's confident he'll be ready for opening day. (Seattle Times)

BOOF REMAINS A MYSTERY: Even Boof Bonser doesn't know how his name came about, even though he's legally changed it. (Star-Ledger)

FORTUITOUS CUT: Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is pretty happy he cut reliever Cristhian Martinez last year when both were with the Marlins. Martinez was optioned to Triple-A at the end of spring training last season and then designated him for assignment on April 3. The Braves signed him and now he's competing for the final bullpen spot.

Martinez struck out five in two innings against the Nationals on Sunday. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

MAYBIN MAY RETURN: San Diego's Cameron Maybin may return to action today after suffering concussion symptoms when he hit his head on a post during Wednesday's practice.

Maybin, the team's newly acquired center fielder, took batting practice on Sunday and said he felt good afterwards. (MLB.com)

D-LEE STILL OUT: Derrek Lee won't make his debut with the Orioles in the Grapefruit League until Wednesday at the earliest. (Baltimore Sun)

PEAVY TO MAKE SECOND START: White Sox starter Jake Peavy said he's sore from Saturday's start, but he's good enough to start on Wednesday. (Chicago Tribune)

FIRST BASE BATTLE: Here's something you don't hear very often -- Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said defensive will be a key component to the team's search for a regular first baseman.

Russell Branyan, Brandon Allen and Juan Miranda are the other leading candidates for that job. (Arizona Republic)

ZAUN TO RETIRE: Veteran catcher Gregg Zaun is set to retire after 16 seasons in the big leagues.

Zaun, 39, was in the Padres camp. He's a career .252/.344/.388 hitter, but better known for his defense, spending most of his time as a backup catcher.

His retirement gives Rob Johnson the inside track at the Padres' backup job. (Sportsnet.ca)


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Posted on: March 6, 2011 9:45 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/6: Walk-off edition

Tsuyoshi Nishioka

By C. Trent Rosecrans

3 UP

1. D.J. LeMahieu, Cubs. Yes, it's just spring training, but an extra-innings, pinch-hit, walk-off home run is always special. LeMahieu was the Cubs' second-round pick in the 2009 draft and had a solid 2010 in Class A Daytona, hitting .314/.346/.386 with 73 RBI and 15 stolen bases, playing second, third and short. LeMahieu had just two home runs as a pro, so this one may have been even more unlikely.

2. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Twins. The newly-minted Twins second baseman went 2 for 3 with a triple and two RBI on Sunday against the Orioles. As impressive as his triple was, a third-inning hit-and-run got his manager's attention. With Alexi Casilla on first, Nishioka, batting left-handed, noticed the second baseman going to cover second and hit the ball in the vacated spot, allowing Casilla to advance to third.

3. Tim Lincecum, Giants. This skinny little kid for the Giants may end up being someone to watch. Lincecum was a little wild on Sunday, walking three and giving up three hits in 3 2/3 inning, but he also struck out seven batters.

3 DOWN

1. Mat Latos, Padres. I don't like to make much of early-March numbers, but after his outing on Sunday he  went back to the dugout and fired his glove up against a wall. Latos allowed three runs on two hits and two walks before being lifted after just 2/3 of an inning, when he was scheduled to throw three. He struggled with his command, just 21 strikes among his 38 pitches. In his first start, he went just 1 1/3 innings and walked four batters, with 15 of his 34 pitches called strikes.

2. Mark Buehrle, White Sox. Buehrle was the first White Sox pitcher to go three innings this spring, yet it didn't do too well, allowing nine hits and five runs against the Royals on Sunday. It could have been worse -- the Gold Glover snared a Lorenzo Cain liner that appeared to be headed for a hit in the third inning, which was followed by a double.

3. Alcides Escobar, Royals. My mother always told me not to scratch bug bites or they'd get infected, and I never believed her. Sorry mom, you were right. The Royals shortstop was -- pardon the pun -- scratched from the team's lineup on Sunday following the infection of a bed bug on his right wrist. He'll miss Monday's split-squad games, but is expected back later this week.


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Posted on: March 6, 2011 12:04 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2011 12:59 pm
 

With Blackburn in is Slowey out?

By C. Trent Rosecrans

With Nick Blackburn in the Twins' rotation, so Kevin Slowey may be out -- not just out of the rotation, but out of Minnesota.

Blackburn has been told by manager Ron Gardenhire that he's earned a spot in the rotation, Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes, leaving Slowey and Scott Baker to compete for the fifth spot. Gardenhire said he'd like to add top prospect Kyle Gibson to that list, but doesn't believe the front office will let him.

Kevin SloweyAccording to ESPN.com's Buster Olney, the Twins are open to offers for Slowey (pictured). Slowey, 26, was 13-6 with a 4.45 ERA in 28 starts (and two relief appearances last season. Slowey is making $2.7 million this season and has two more years of arbitration remaining and is 39-21 with a 4.41 ERA in his four years in the big leagues.

Slowey has made two starts this spring, allowing four hits and three runs in five innings. On Friday, Slowey threw three scoreless innings. 

Baker, 29, had arthroscopic elbow surgery in October and is scheduled to make his second spring appearance on Monday.  He gave up two hits and a run in 1 2/3 innings in his first outing. Baker is in the third year of a four-year, $15.25 million deal, with a team option for 2013. Last season he was 12-9 with a 4.49 ERA and he's one at least 10 games in each of the last three seasons. He's 55-42 with a 4.32 ERA in his six seasons with the Twins.

Slowey's age and contract situation make him more attractive to other teams.

Gibson has made two outings this spring, giving up three hits and two runs in two innings. The 23-year-old right-hander pitched at three levels last season, going 11-6 with a 2.96 ERA, with the bulk of his work (16 of 26 starts) coming at Double-A, where he was 7-5 with a 3.68. He made three Triple-A starts, going 0-0 with a 1.72 ERA there.

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Posted on: March 5, 2011 4:56 pm
 

Twins' rotation rounding into shape

By Matt Snyder

Nick Blackburn will be in the starting rotation for the Twins this season, manager Ron Gardenhire said Saturday (Minneapolis Star-Tribune ), meaning Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey are in a head-to-head battle for the fifth and final spot. The news came after Blackburn threw three perfect innings against the Rays.

Wednesday, Brian Duensing was given a spot by Gardenhire, making him the third member of the rotation behind ace Francisco Liriano and re-signed Carl Pavano.

Blackburn went 10-12 with a 5.42 ERA last season in 161 innings, but had offseason surgery to clean up his elbow. He's looked sharp in the spring, especially with his sinker.

Duensing went 10-3 with a 2.62 ERA last season. He closed in the rotation, starting 13 of his last 14 appearances after he joined the rotation. As a starter, he was 7-2 with a 3.05 ERA. His 85 2/3 innings meant he averaged about 6 2/3 innings per start, and that was after coming out of the bullpen for the first part of the season.

The Baker vs. Slowey battle shows just how deep the Twins are with starting pitching. Baker is just two seasons removed from an 11-4, 3.45 ERA and 1.18 WHIP campaign. Last season, he battled inconsistency -- and minor health issues -- to a 12-9 mark with a 4.49 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. Slowey is one year removed from a season where he went 10-3, but his ERA was 48.6 and WHIP was 1.41. He was 13-6 last year with a 4.45 ERA, but has had issues getting knocked around, as he's allowed 10 hits per nine innings throughout his career. His control is solid, though, as he only walked 29 guys in 155 2/3 innings last year.

Baker was 5-0 in his last 10 starts last season and, like Blackburn, underwent a procedure to clean up his throwing elbow in the offseason.

Baker has a slightly better track record than Slowey, but that doesn't always decide the winner in spring training battles. Either way, the Twins have six legitimate major-league starting pitchers. Many teams would surely trade places.

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 10:00 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 10:02 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/4: The return of Peavy

Peavy
By Evan Brunell

It feels like the days are dragging now that spring training games are started. Craving relevance, it's important to take the performances of players -- especially day-to-day ones -- this early into spring training with a grain of salt. That said, there's still plenty news of note...

3 UP

1. SP Jake Peavy, CHW: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K. Scott Miller has more on Peavy, but here's the gist: the White Sox starter pitched in a game for the first time since injuring his shoulder in July. While the road to pitching in the regular season is still long, the fact Peavy made it through a game and had no issues during and after the game is a milestone.

2. SP Bartolo Colon, NYY: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K. Who saw this coming from Colon? He flat out dominated the Red Sox and turned enough heads that one has to wonder if Colon really might claim that No. 5 spot. It's way, way too early to proclaim Colon the front-runner, but Colon was an afterthought before this start. No longer.

3. LF Nolan Reimold, BAL: 3 AB, 2 R, 1 H, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR. Reimold is battling for a spot on Baltimore's bench and is doing everything he can to avoid a demotion. Unfortunately, his inability to play center puts him behind the eight-ball. It's possible the O's could deal Reimold at the end of spring training, but that's hard to imagine given Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero are temporary. Baltimore needs to keep its depth and young players, even if that means more seasoning down on the farm.

3 DOWN

1. SP Ryan Rowland-Smith, HOU: 2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Not good for "Hyphen," who is battling for the No. 5 spot in the Astros rotation. He has no shortage of challengers, including Nelson Figueroa, Aneury Rodriguez and Jordan Lyles, plus a few others. If he fails in his quest, he will be shuttled off to the bullpen.

2. RP Juan Gutierrez, ARI: 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K. Gutierrez gave up 13 home runs last season but somehow managed to save 15 games with a 5.08 ERA. That won't repeat itself this season, and if the 27-year-old wants to be an important part of the bullpen, he can't have outings like this with plenty of competition around him.

3. CF Dexter Fowler, COL: 4 AB, 0 R, 0 H, 0 RBI, 1 K. Now with the center field job his free and clear, Fowler needs to take another step forward this year after two years of over 500 plate appearances. Fowler was good enough those seasons, but he needs to take the next step forward if he wants to be considered an integral piece of the club. A .182 average to start spring training isn't helping.

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 9:53 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:29 pm
 

Pepper: Big Puma struggling through spring

Lance Berkman

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cardinals came out of the offseason sacrificing defense for offense, but that offense may have a hard time even getting on the field.

Lance Berkman, inked in as the team's right fielder going into the spring, was scratched from the team's lineup on Thursday because of a sore left calf. Berkman had already been limited to designated hitter work because of a bad left elbow.

It's just the first week of games, and Berkman has been limited to play in the field. On Thursday, Berkman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he was "perfectly fine" and would still go to Kissimmee, Fla., on Friday to face his old team, the Astros.

Friday morning, Berkman wasn't on the bus, missing another game.

Prospect Zack Cox filled in for Berkman at DH on Thursday and knocked in a run, but he's not ready to fill in full-time for Berkman in the field and the National League doesn't have the DH.

Sure, it's early, and several players are battling bumps and bruises, but not all of them are 35, coming off a down season, moving to a more demanding physical position, blocked at their old position and being counted on to remedy a team's offense. That's a lot on the shoulders of the Big Puma, and it's looking less like he can shoulder that load.

WAKE-UP: As if stepping into the box against a guy who can sling the ball 105 mph wasn't enough to get your attention, the first pitch ending up somewhere near the bull certainly got Dodger Trent Oeltjen's attention. Thursday night, the first pitch of Chapman's inning of work went over the catcher's mitt and over the umpire's head. His next three pitches to Oeltjen were strikes, including strike three looking.

"If it was at my face, I wouldn't have had time to move," Oeltjen told the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez. "It woke me up. He sent a message he was throwing hard."

Said new manager Don Mattingly: "Jeez, huh? He was Randy Johnson-ish. It gets there quick, doesn't it?"

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: Carlos Zambrano didn't fight anyone in his Thursday start for the Cubs -- not only that, he threw three scoreless innings. However, he did complain of arm fatigue after the start.

"I was just tired," Zambrano said to the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's normal. I wasn't feeling power in my arm, but I guarantee you I will work hard and feel good in my next start."

Zambrano note he typically feels a "dead-arm" at least once a spring.

JUST BAD NEWS: Yesterday the question was if Astros' catcher Jason Castro would miss the beginning of the season. Today, it's if he'll play at all this season.

Thursday night, Castro was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Castro was scheduled to have surgery this morning, and general manager Ed Wade said he could return "by mid-September." (Houston Chronicle)

WAIT FOR JUDGEMENT? Matt Cain said he hasn't thrown a ball since coming down with elbow inflammation on Sunday and will likely miss multiple starts this spring. 

However, Cain's not too concerned, even after taking an MRI.

There is a history -- and this is something to watch -- of pitchers going to the postseason one season and having trouble the next because of the increased workload. While Cain's not worried, it'll be something to monitor with all of the Giants' pitching staff. (San Francisco Chronicle)

ANOTHER WART: Hopefully Orioles starter Brian Matusz won't tweet a picture like Michael Cuddyer, but he'll also be having a wart professionally removed.

Matusz's wart is on the middle finger of his pitching hand. Still, he threw two scoreless innings on Wednesday even with the wart. He had it some last year, but pitched through it. He said it bothers him some on his breaking ball. (Baltimore Sun)

WAS THAT REALLY A CONSIDERATION? Oliver Perez has been the New York media's favorite target for a while, but is this really necessary? The New Your Daily News' "breaking news" from "a source" is that the Mets have internally decided Perez will not be a starter during the regular season.

The Daily News' Andy Martino wrote that the day after he wrote the team would cut Perez (and his $12 million salary) if he didn't perform well in his start on Thursday. Well, he threw two scoreless innings against the Cardinals, so Martino didn't get his wish. Instead, he had to find a new way to pile onto Perez.

Hey, it's not to say Perez doesn't stink. He does. Or that he's not overpaid -- he is. It's just, this breathless reporting seems almost like piling on. Sure, the Mets have said he's in contention for the rotation, but the Mets say a lot of things, and it's not like we believe those.

NOW HE COULD BE IN A ROTATION: Neftali Feliz wasn't too happy with his first start of spring. Still, he threw two scoreless innings, so it wasn't bad. He also threw three different pitches, but struggled with his command and rhythm.

The Feliz story may be one of the more interesting ones of spring, and certainly something to watch as the month goes along. He'll throw three innings next week. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

VISA TIME: Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati's opening-day starter, could pitch his first spring training start because of a visa problem, but he should be able to make his next start after a quick trip to his native Dominican Republic.

"Everything is set," he told the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay. "They're just waiting for me to pitch it up."

He was unable to pitch in games at which admission is charged because he came to camp on a travel visa, not a work visa. His work visa was held up because of his failed drug test and suspension last season.

COCO CONTRITE: A's outfielder Coco Crisp said he's embarrassed about his DUI arrest on Wednesday morning. (San Francisco Chronicle)

GO METS OR GO HOME: Former Cardinals and A's closer Jason Isringhausen is back in camp for the Mets, after starting a comeback last season in the Reds system.

Isringhausen played in Triple-A last season, but says his bus-riding days are over. If he doesn't break camp with the Mets, he'll just go home and call it a career. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

OR JUST GO HOME: Boston's J.D. Drew says he's considering retiring after this year. It's been one of those things he's hinted at before and is hardly a surprise. (Boston Herald)

SO WHO IS A-ROD? According to Wikileaks, a U.S. diplomatic cable on the 2009 Iranian election called President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the "George Steinbrenner of Iran" when talking about his influence over the national soccer team.

I'm guessing that wasn't a compliment. (Associated Press)

WHAT'S A WORLD SERIES WORTH? How much are World Series starts worth to a Hall of Fame discussion? Or, even more words about Jack Morris from Baseball Prospectus.

Honestly, I used to be a Morris for the Hall guy, I'm not anymore. I used to not be a Bert Blyleven guy, but I am now. But I'll certainly never change my feeling that I never want to hear another Morris-Blyleven debate.

A BETTER SCORECARD: An interview with Bethany Heck, the designer of a new, better, scorebook. Heck's 20-game scorebook is like "if Moleskine made a scorebook…" (Bugs & Cranks)

WHAT TO WATCH: Jake Peavy will make his first start since July 6 today against the Angels in Tempe, Ariz.

"Hopefully, we'll see some of the hard work we've done pay off," he told the Chicago Tribune.

QUARTERBACK SHOWDOWN: There's a Groundhog Day aspect to spring training, so Padres manager Bud Black found a way to break up the monotony -- a quarterback combine.

While Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert (seriously, could you draft a quarterback named "Blaine") did this in Indianapolis last week, Black had his former quarterbacks -- top prospect Casey Kelly, Cory Luebke, Orlando Hudson and Nick Hundley -- go through their own competition Thursday morning.

According to MLB.com's Corey Brock, the three went through several drills, including hitting a moving target. Luebke, a high school quarterback in Ohio, upset Kelly, who signed a letter of intent to play QB at Tennessee.

"We're here for six weeks," Black said. "… We try to do some things to keep the guys going."

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: The Reds have announced the front-runner for the year's best bobblehead. On July 2 against the Indians, fans will receive the combination Dusty Baker bobblehead and toothpick holder. The bobblehead even has Dusty with a toothpick in his mouth (and, of course, sweatbands on his arms). So far, it's the best bobblehead I've seen on tap for this year, with the Reds also getting second place for their Jonny Gomes bobblehead and arm, mimicking the way Gomes tugs at his helmet before every at-bat.

Dusty Baker

IF YOU'RE NOT ALREADY BEARDED OUT: The literary journal McSweeney's is selling a "How to Beard Yourself Like Brian Wilson" poster.

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Posted on: March 3, 2011 9:39 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 9:47 pm
 

Getting to know the Royals

EscobarBy Evan Brunell

MVP

There's not a lot to get excited about in regards to the Royals. All they're doing is just biding time for the influx of top prospects. But one player who is important to K.C.'s future is Alcides Escobar, expected to open the season at short.

Escobar was part of the return for Zack Greinke and is hoping to deliver on the promise that once made him a top prospect himself before falling flat on his face in his first full major league season. With a minor league reputation as being a good fielder and someone who can hit for average and get on base, the Royals need Escobar to show something this coming season. They do have Christian Colon, who was drafted in the first round of the 2010 draft, in the minors, but he's not expected to remain at short long-term. Escobar probably will get one more year after 2011 to prove himself should he fail, but it would do wonders for the team's developmental and mental needs if he can deliver on his promise.

PLAYER ORACLE: Lou Piniella to ... uhh ... Billy Butler:

  • Lou Piniella played with Otis Nixon for the 1983 New York Yankees
  • Otis Nixon played with Hideo Nomo for the 1997 Los Angeles Dodgers  
  • Hideo Nomo played with Billy Butler for the 2008 Kansas City Royals

POP CULTURE

George Brett, along with a host of other players, appeared in an episode of Fantasy Island in the tenth episode of the first season.

In the episode, Brett dropped a routine infield ball and struck out against a person on the island fulfilling his fantasy. (That person? Gary Burghoff, otherwise known as 'Radar' from M*A*S*H.) Brett later said that his brother Ken said George would be the perfect "fool" for those embarrassing moments.

But as the below teaser for the episode reveals, Brett faced pretty stiff competition from Radar, who unveiled a wicked pitch that defies all conventional pitch names, so let's just call it the mythical gyroball.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com