Tag:Spring training
Posted on: February 21, 2012 2:24 pm
 

Harper wants to start the season in D.C.



By C. Trent Rosecrans


Bryce Harper showed up at the Nationals' training camp on Tuesday morning and said he's hoping to start the season with the big-league team.

"I'm going to work as hard as I can, keep my mouth shut and play," Harper told reporters, including Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. "I'm going to make their decision hard as much as I can. I want to be up here. I want to play, and I want to play in D.C."

Harper said something similar last season -- even though there was no shot he'd break camp with the team. This year's different. Manager Davey Johnson has asked Rizzo to keep an open mind in the decision about Harper.

Nobody expects Harper to say any less, but the fact he used those words is probably a good sign for Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo who recently said he wanted Harper to mature before bringing him up.

Harper said he's not too worried about the reaction to his Twitter ramblings or the reaction to his aspiration of being a modern-day Joe Namath man-about-town.

"I'm going to get blown up either way, whether I say something right or say something wrong," Harper told Kilgore. "That's just how it's going to be. There's nothing I can really do about that. Maybe there's sometimes I should keep my mouth shut. I need to grow up in that aspect, I guess. But I feel good about what I say, and I'm not going to back down from anything."

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Posted on: February 21, 2012 11:11 am
 

Phillies' Brown: 'I'm fighting to win a job'

Domonic Brown

By C. Trent Rosecrans

A year ago, the Phillies' right fielder's job was Domonic Brown's to lose. And, well, he did.

A broken hamate bone in spring training followed by a thumb sprain slowed Brown at the beginning of the season and then his lack of production led the Phillies to go out and get Hunter Pence at the trading deadline. Brown hit .245/.333/.391 with five home runs and 19 RBI in 210 plate appearances as a 23-year-old last season. He was sent to the minors after Pence joined the team on July 30 and called up in September. He struck out in his only plate appearance in September.

This season the expectations aren't as high for Brown, the team's former top prospect. He's among those in contention for the left field job, along with John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix, but it appears the deck is stacked against him.

Mayberry was the surprise breakout in 2011, hitting .273/.341/.513 with 15 homers and 49 RBI in 296 plate appearances. Nix is a veteran backup, who like Brown, is a left-handed hitter.

In October, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he wanted Brown to get another year of Triple-A under his belt in 2012.

That, unsurprisingly, isn't how Brown sees things.

"I don't know if I need at-bats in Triple-A or if I need to get used to it up here," He told reporters, including David Hale of DelawareOnline.com on Tuesday. "I just know I need to play somewhere."

Triple-A hasn't been much of a challenge for Brown, who has played 69 games over two seasons for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, hitting .298/.390/.453 with eight home runs and 17 stolen bases. Still, he's not played more than 41 games in one season at that level, so there could be some benefit to a full season at Triple-A and seeing teams and pitchers more than once.

The lack of power last season -- seven home runs in the minors and five in the big leagues -- isn't much of a surprise due to the broken hamate bone. Brown said Tuesday his hand is "100 percent" and it took months for him to get there.

As for this spring, Brown trained with Gary Sheffield in the offseason and is excited about his chances to make the team out of spring.

"I'm not at peach if I start at Triple-A. … I'm coming to win a job," Brown said. "I'm fighting to win a job here. That's the big goal."

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Posted on: February 21, 2012 10:45 am
 

Braves' Hanson suffered 'mild' concussion

Tommy HansonBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Doctors diagnosed Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson with a Grade 1 concussion -- the lowest grade -- after a Monday morning car accident, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com. The concussion will keep Hanson out a few more days.

He will be re-evaluated after resting for 48 hours and if he no longer feels dizzy or shows any other concussion symptoms then, he will be allowed to start working out, but he'll still gradually move toward a full workout. The 25-year-old could be back to full workouts by this weekend or early of next week, according to the team.

"If everything progresses like we think it will, he'll be fine," Gonzalez told reporters (including Bowman). "The thing [trainers] do not want to do is bring him back too early and then he gets dizzy because of the concussion. It's just a natural progression."

Hanson blew a tire and went off the road while driving to the Braves' spring training complex on Monday morning.

As our own Jon Heyman noted on Twitter, the only "mild" concussion is one suffered by someone else. As we've come to see in baseball recently with the likes of Justin Morneau, concussions are nothing to take lightly.

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 4:15 pm
 

Manny just the latest A's retread



By C. Trent Rosecrans


The A's adding Manny Ramirez was hardly a surprise -- it had been rumored for a while.

But it should be even less surprising considering the track record of A's general manager Billy Beane. Beane, of course, is probably the most famous general manager since Branch Rickey thanks to Moneyball (the book and the movie), in part because of his eye for a bargain. While the biggest bargains in baseball are usually young players under team control, there's also value in older players that other teams don't want anymore. Beane's had more than his share of those types of players.

In Moneyball (again, both the book and the movie), Beane's addition of a declining David Justice paid dividends as the 36-year-old hit 11 homers in 118 games (not to mention putting up a .376 on-base percentage). Last season Beane picked Hideki Matsui out of the bargain bin along with a Stephen King novel at Barnes and Noble. This season, it's Ramirez, who will get $500,000 contract with the big-league club after serving his 50-game suspension.

Manny RamirezUsually it's former corner outfielders or first basemen who can add a little slugging and some decent on-base skills (two things Ramirez should be able to add), to be used at DH and in the field in a pinch. Sometimes it works, like with Justice, other times it doesn't -- like with Eric Karros in 2004. But it's cheap, so these veterans are as disposable as a cheap razor.

Here's a list of significant players near the end of their career signed by the A's since Beane took over in 1998, followed by the season they played in Oakland, how old they were that season, their slash line, home runs and RBI.

Rickey Henderson 1998, 39, .236/.376/.347, 1, 14 (led the league with 66 stolen bases and 118 walks)
*Kevin Mitchell 1998, 36, .228/.279/.346, 2, 21
*Tony Phillips 1999, 40, .244/.362/.433, 15, 49
Tim Raines 1999, 39, .215/.337/.341, 4, 17
*Mike Stanley 2000, 37, .268/.363/.464, 4, 18
Ron Gant 2001, 36, .259,.344/.420, 2, 13
*David Justice 2002, 36, .266/.376/.410, 11, 49
*Ron Gant 2003, 38, .146/.182/.220, 1, 4
*Eric Karros 2004, 36, .194/.243/.311, 2, 11
*Mike Piazza 2007, 38, .275/.313/.414, 8, 44
Mike Sweeney 2008, 34, .286/.331/.397, 2, 12
Frank Thomas 2008, 40, .263/.364/.387, 5, 19
*Nomar Garciaparra 2009, 35, .281/.314/.388, 3, 16
Jason Giambi 2009, 38, .193/.332/.364, 11, 40
**Hideki Matsui 2011, 37, .251/.321/.375, 12, 72

* retired after their year with the A's
** Matsui is currently an unsigned free agent

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 2:45 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 4:50 pm
 

Beltran gives former teammate a nosejob

Jonathan Niese

By C. Trent Rosecrans

It's not unusual to hear of teammates giving each other gifts -- from watches to cars and just about everything in between. But this is a new one.

Carlos Beltran, now a Cardinal, got Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese a new nose.

Yep, Beltran paid for Niese's nose job this offseason after making a playful barb that Niese needed a new nose. Beltran went so far as to offer to pay for it, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.

"He wanted me to have a new nose," Niese told Rubin. "So he offered to pay for it. I was just like, 'All right.' Then it turned into seeing doctors and to getting it fixed."

The picture above, is clearly the "before."

The surgery may have also been a performance-enhancer for the 25-year-old left-hander. He said the surgery has helped him breathe better.

"It's helped a lot with my running," Niese said. "It helps with my working out. As far as the mound, I'm not sure."

Niese was 11-11 with a 4.40 ERA in 27 games and 26 starts last season, striking out 138 batters in 157 1/3 innings.

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 1:01 pm
 

Braves' Hanson examined after car accident

Tommy HansonBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson went to the hospital on Monday after being involved in a car accident in the morning, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman (via Twitter).

According to Bowman, Hanson blew a tire and bumped his head and is being checked for a possible concussion. The Braves have yet to receive word on his condition.

Hanson, 25, came into the team's spring training home after the accident, but then chose to go to the hospital to get checked out.

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 12:29 pm
 

Burnett joins Pirates, creates competition



A.J. BurnettBy C. Trent Rosecrans


The Pittsburgh Pirates rarely cause a stir in the national media -- but plenty of people were in Bradenton on Monday to see newest Pirates A.J. Burnett throw his first side session of the spring.

Burnett, officially traded from the Yankees to the Pirates on Sunday, reported to Pirates camp on Monday. To make room for Burnett, the Pirates placed Rule 5 selection Gustavo Nunez on the 60-day disabled list with a right ankle injury.

According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, about a dozen reporters spoke to Burnett before the start of Monday's workout. While that number pales in comparison to the media horde that follows the Yankees, it's a pretty sizable scrum for the Pirates.

"It's going to be a fresh start," Burnett said, according to Biertempfel. "It's going to be fun. I'm back in the National League where I can hit and bunt and get the joy back into the game."

Burnett, 35, said he learned from his three seasons with the Yankees -- "one thing I can take from my time in New York is I'll never back down from anything."

With Burnett in camp, the Pirates have six starters for five spots in the rotation. Burnett and fellow new Pirate Erik Bedard will certainly make the rotation. Also involved in the rotation battle are Charlie Morton, James McDonald, Kevin Correia and Jeff Karstens. The team also has Brad Lincoln, as well as non-roster invitees Jo-Jo Reyes and Daniel Cabrera.

"One of the signs of a club getting better is when your decisions get tougher as you move forward," manager Clint Hurdle told reporters (again, via Biertemfel at the Tribune-Review). "We're going to put people on the mound, let them pitch, and it will all shape itself up."

McDonald and Morton are likely to be in the rotation with the new guys, while Correia and Karstens may be battling it out for the last spot.

Correia was an All-Star last season, but the 31-year-old right-hander made the team on the strength of his 11 wins in the first-half of the season and despite a 4.01 ERA. He was 1-4 with a 7.23 ERA in the second half of the season.

Karstens, 29, was 9-9 with a 3.38 ERA last season.

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Posted on: February 19, 2012 1:48 pm
 

Polar opposites Beckett, Lester talk collapse



By Matt Snyder


After a historic collapse in September, blowing a huge wild-card lead to the Rays, the Red Sox offseason got off a turbulent start for several reasons, chief among them a revelation that starting pitchers were drinking beer, eating fried chicken and playing video games in the clubhouse during games. So when pitchers and catchers reported to camp this weekend, obviously the subject came up.

With All-Star pitchers Josh Beckett and Jon Lester, there were two different approaches.

Lester came full of accountability and apology.

“We stunk. I stunk. Tampa Bay was better,” Lester said (BostonHerald.com). “I take complete responsibility for it.”

Beckett, on the other hand, gave what the Boston Herald termed "the bare minimum," while also going a bit on the offensive.

“I’m upset with myself for the lapses of judgment, but there’s also some ill feelings toward some people," he said (BostonHerald.com), with "people" obviously being the clubhouse leak that exposed the locker-room activities.

“I’m not saying we didn’t make mistakes, because we did make mistakes in the clubhouse. But the biggest mistake we made was — the biggest mistake I made — was not pitching well against Baltimore. I was prepared to pitch every time I went out there. I just didn’t execute pitches when I needed to.” (BostonHerald.com)

The Herald also called Beckett "defiant" in the face of the questioning while saying Lester was "contrite."

While it's easy to see that anyone would be annoyed for being outed like that, Beckett's outward frustration shows that he isn't fully accountable for the clubhouse actions. He's only sorry he got caught. It's like blaming the police officer for getting a speeding ticket -- Yeah, I shouldn't have been speeding, but I'm mad at the cop for pulling me over. But the cop wasn't the one speeding, just as the clubhouse leak wasn't the one in the wrong in September. If Beckett was truly accountable, he would be acting like Lester, the true staff ace of the Red Sox.

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