Tag:NL East
Posted on: March 1, 2012 1:46 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 4:46 pm
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Players, managers react to new playoff format

By Matt Snyder

MLB Playoff expansion
With the news spreading throughout baseball that playoff expansion is very likely for the 2012 season, some reactions from players and managers have started to trickle out of camps. As one would expect on a divisive issue, the reactions are all over the map.

For a very brief recap to those who haven't read about it yet, it's extremely likely that starting this season, MLB will have two wild card teams play one head-to-head game, with the winner advancing to face the division winner with the best record in the LDS. The second and third division winners will face each other. The new collective bargaining agreement established that this system would begin by 2013, but it's likely it will begin this season.

Anyway, here are some of the reactions we've gathered thus far:

Blue Jays manager John Farrell (CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler)

"I think it's great for baseball. Hopefully, we're in the mix to land one of those spots."

Mets third baseman David Wright (Andy McCullough via Twitter)

"That would have been nice five years ago."

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel (CSNPhilly.com)

“It’s hard to swallow sometimes if you play all year and win a lot of games and somebody who did not play as good as you consistently all year gets in and wins. But that’s the way it goes and that’s the process that we live with.

“I understand everything about that and I’m not knocking that. That’s what it is. But at the same time, I look at it as I’m not a second-place guy or third place or fourth place. Basically that’s the part – for me, personally, you shouldn’t get nothing for second or third. That’s the American system.”

Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen (MLB.com)

"Anytime you involve more people, it's good for the game. I think the Commissioner is doing a tremendous job adding people to have a chance to see playoff games, and I think that's great for the fans. This game, we play for them."

Red Sox DH David Ortiz (ESPN Boston)

“One game? That’s kind of crazy. You know how many things we’ve got to move around and pack for one game? It’d make more sense for two wild cards to play at least a two-out-of-three series while the other teams take a break for three days because they won their divisions.”

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (TampaBay.com)

"I think it's exciting. It's exciting for all of us. ... I think the goal was to allow more teams to have a chance in the end, to hold on to those playoff hopes for longer.''

"I think it was pretty unanimous around the league that the more playoff spots the better. Once you get into the playoffs it's more revenue for the ballclub, it's more excitement for the players, so I think it would be a no-brainer for everybody.''

"I don't think anybody's 'comfortable' with [one-game playoff] -- it's an uncomfortable feeling going into any game that you know you could go home, your season could end. But at the same time, it's exciting -- you're in the playoffs now.''

Braves third baseman Chipper Jones (MLB.com)

"I'm not for it. I think the elite teams deserve to make it to the playoffs. Pretty soon, Major League Baseball is going to be like the NBA. There will be more teams that make it than don't. The season is too long as it is. Now you're going to give teams more travel. I don't agree with it, but we're just a piece of meat. We do what they tell us to."

Braves backup catcher David Ross (MLB.com)

"I like the one game for all of the marbles kind of thing because it's either put up or shut up," Braves backup catcher David Ross said. "It's going to be fun. The fans are going to be tuned in. It will get a lot of media attention. It will be a lot of fun."

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly (ESPN Los Angeles)

"I like it because it forces those two teams to use their best pitcher, so they have to use that guy to get in (to the next round). On paper, that gives the advantage to the team that wins the division because they can line up their rotation the way they want it. It seems fair to me that the team who wins the division gets that advantage.''

White Sox pitcher Chris Sale (ChicagoSports.com)

"Obviously, it’s exciting. Two more teams into the playoffs. At the same time, you want to be one of those teams for sure in there. You want to win the division. "They said it today, you are not playing for second place. It would be great if that did happen, but from here on out, we are going for that No. 1 spot."

White Sox manager Robin Ventura (ChicagoSports.com)

“In the past, when they added (the wild card), it created excitement and even last year, the last day of the season it added fun. You never know. It just depends on how the season goes. But it’s exciting for teams to get in. That’s for sure.”

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 8:48 pm
 

Mariners' Gutierrez to start season on DL

Franklin GutierrezBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez will once again miss opening day, and he could miss all of April after the team announced he suffered a partially torn pectoral muscle.

The good news is he isn't expected to need surgery. He will need at least four weeks before he is able to participate in any baseball activities.

"At this point, we don't know," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik told Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. "Every body responds to things differently. We do't know wwhat he'll be able to do and at this point, we'll probably just ease him into things gradually."

Last season Gutierrez didn't play until May after being diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome during spring training.

Chone Figgins played center field in Wednesday's intrasquad game. Michael Suanders and Casper Wells, along with Figgins, are candidates to replace Gutierrez while he's gone.

Gutierrez played in just 92 games last season, hitting .224/.261/.273 with one home run.

He left Tuesday's workout with the pectoral injury and had an MRI the same day. He flew back to Seattle on Wednesday to see the team's doctor.

In other injury news from Wednesday:

• Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett was scheduled to return to Pittsburgh on Wednesday to have his right eye examined by team doctors after his bunt attempt hit him in the face.

According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Burnett joked, "Where did the bone go?" after the ball hit him in the face.

Burnett wasn't scheduled to throw on Wednesday.
 
• Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson threw his first bullpen session since suffering a concussion on Feb. 20. Hanson threw 30-pitches and told rpeorters he felt good.

"I think I threw a little better than I had expected," Hanson said (via MLB.com). "I've had some time to think about some mechanical stuff. I was surprised by how well I threw."

Hanson may throw live batting practice on Friday, but he still has to pass one more part of the concussion impact test.

•The Angels' Kendrys Morales is making progress from his 2010 ankle injury, hitting from both sides of the plate, something he didn't do last spring. He also added S-turns in his running -- another thing he never did last season.

"He's in a different position now because he's had nothing but a progression to the point where you can see that he'll progress to playing games in a couple of weeks," manager Mike Scioscia told reporters, including Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register.

• Keeping with the theme of Angels displaced by Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo was cleared by doctors on Wednesday to return to the field.

Trumbo, who had a stress fracture in his right foot, is attempting to make the move to third base. [Orange County Register]

• Cubs catcher Geovany Soto will miss the start of the Cactus League with a sore groin, but told reporters it wasn't a big deal.

"It's spring training, and there's no hurry to get out there," Soto told reporters, including Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. "I want to be there as much as I can, just to play. I've had four months off and you train hard all offseason, so you want to get every game possible to get ready for the season."

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:32 pm
 

Now batting for the Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton

By Matt Snyder

Young Marlins slugger Mike Stanton's birth name is actually Giancarlo Cruz-Michael Stanton. He just started going by Mike in school because of the constant mispronunciations.

“It got really annoying having seven classes having to correct seven different people every single day.’’ he said (Fish Tank Blog). “Mike is part of my middle name so it was the easiest (solution). But I never changed it because I didn’t like it.’’

And now, Stanton says he's going to be introduced -- at least in all home games -- as Giancarlo Stanton from this point forward.

The Fish Tank blog post notes that Stanton is pretty easy-going with the name choices, so it's cool if you keep calling him Mike. His teammates have a wide variety of names they call him.

“Everything,’’ he said with a smile (Fish Tank Blog). “Cruz. Giancarlo, Mike, Mikey, Big Mike, Big Foot, Bam-bam. Man-Child. I respond to 25 different names.’’

Stanton, 22, is one of the brighter young stars in all of baseball. He amassed 56 home runs before his 22nd birthday (which was last November). Last season, his second in the majors, he hit .262/.356/.537 with 34 homers, 87 RBI and 79 runs. If he continues to develop on this path, I'm pretty sure Marlins fans will be happy to call him whatever he wants.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:11 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 1:39 pm
 

A unique perspective on Posey-Cousins collision



By Matt Snyder


Last May 25, Marlins bench player Scott Cousins bowled over star Giants catcher Buster Posey. The immediate result was a run scored that led to an extra-innings victory for the Marlins. In the process, however, Posey was injured and it turned out to be season-ending. He broke his fibula and tore three ligaments in his ankle.

The aftermath brought lots of backlash in Cousins' direction. At first, Posey wouldn't return his phone calls. Giants fans all over Twitter and message boards called the play dirty and threw taunts and insults Cousins' way. Those will all surely be rekindled when the Giants and Marlins face each other this season, too.

But new Giants reliever Clay Hensley has a unique perspective. He was on the Marlins when the play happened and is now playing for the Giants, so there's no worry of bias in standing up for a teammate. He was Cousins' teammate and now he's Posey's. Andrew Baggerly of CSNBayArea.com collected some really good quotes on the situation from Hensley.

On Cousins' perspective: “Awful,” Hensley said (CSNBayArea). “You’ve got a player, Scott Cousins, who plays hard and he’s a good guy and a good kid. He just wanted to make a play to help win a game. He’s in his home town, trying to cut a groove for himself with the ballclub. He personally felt he had no room (to slide). Nobody can say one way or the other besides him ... It was tough to watch. I know for his part of things, nobody felt worse than he did. You play the game hard, but you don’t want to hurt anybody.”

On the Marlins' locker room after the win: “It was quiet. Nobody was celebrating,” Hensley said (CSNBayArea). “I can guarantee you there wasn’t any, `Yeah, we got his ass!’ Nothing like that. Everybody was trying to figure out how bad it was. At the same time, Cousins was pretty distraught – wrecked, really – by it as well ... You’re playing to win every time you take the field, but baseball is like one big family. You don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

On Cousins' mindset the rest of the season: “(The collision) is something that affected him for a long time,” Hensley said (CSNBayArea). “We’d try. We'd say things. I remember I told him, `Hey, all you can do is keep your head up, keep working hard.’ That’s easy to say. I mean, this happened to him in his home city. Now we get home (to Miami) and he’s getting hate mail. It was really, really tough for him. He was definitely, really upset about the whole situation.”

Obviously Posey had a worse time last season than Cousins did, as the catcher had to rehab from a broken leg. I don't think Hensley is suggesting otherwise. But the hate in Cousins' direction is definitely unfair. Home-plate collisions are part of baseball. Just because Posey was injured on the play doesn't make it dirty. Hopefully by now all Giants fans have turned the page.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 12:23 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 1:02 pm
 

Bryce Harper deletes Twitter account

By Matt Snyder

Phenom outfielder Bryce Harper -- the top prospect for the up-and-coming Nationals -- has decided to delete his Twitter account.

"I was just over it. Got bored and decided to leave," Harper said Wednesday morning (MASNSports.com).

It's hard to tell if he's being totally up front, because it's possible he just got sick of all the hate. Plenty of players in the recent past have deleted accounts due to fan abuse -- Mets catcher Josh Thole comes immediately to mind as one example.

Harper has received some backlash for tweets he's sent, including him openly cheering for the Yankees in the ALDS last season. He also defended his favorite teams (a blatant fair weather variety: Yankees, Duke basketball, USC football, Cowboys and Lakers) recently on Twitter in a few exchanges with fans. Harper himself was polite and came across as not being bothered, but at some point the constant taunts surely gets to be a bit much.

Nationals spring training
Earlier this week, manager Davey Johnson mentioned social media use to his ballclub:

"We warned them about Tweeter (sic) and Facebook and all kinds of sites," Johnson said (MASNSports.com). "Nothing's secret anymore. I did point to a couple guys and said, 'Now you listen to this.' I'm (not) mentioning any names, but you know probably who."

Harper told reporters his Twitter account deletion had nothing to do with Johnson's warning, though.

Personally, I don't see any great reason for an athlete to bother with Twitter. Sure, there's plenty of adulation to go around -- if they're really desperate for more of it -- but the general public can be pretty collectively brutal, personal attacks and all. Some of the stuff crosses lines normal people would never even come close to crossing. Not only that, there's the issue of accidentally saying something stupid and getting raked over the coals for that.

It's a total guess, but I can't see how the good can cancel out the bad for an athlete on Twitter.

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Posted on: February 28, 2012 7:39 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 9:26 pm
 

Braves' Freeman could miss two weeks

Freddie FreemanBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Spring training always has its share of bumps and bruises, along with legitimate injuries, but it often takes a little time to figure out which is which.

Here's a brief roundup of some of Tuesday's injuries from around baseball.

• Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman could miss two weeks after his right knee popped out of place as he tried to scoop a low throw at first base.

"I was just doing pick drills and the knee gave out," Freeman told reporters (via MLB.com). "The kneecap went this way and I came back in. When I did this when I was playing in Triple-A, it took me two weeks. So that is what we are going on."

Freeman said he had a similar injury in 2010 and he could have come back after a week, but the team didn't want to push it.

• Speaking of the Braves,right-hander Tommy Hanson will retake his concussion test on Thursday and could throwing to live batters again that same day if he passes it. Hanson has been cleared for conditioning and throwing, but not for full workouts yet. He suffered a concussion in a car accident on Feb. 20. (MLB.com)

• Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who has been dogged by injuries and illness each of the last two seasons, left Mariners camp on a cart Tuesday.

Seattle manager Eric Wedge told reporters Gutierrez hurt something in the pectoral region and had an MRI. The Mariners are still waiting on word of the results of the MRI. (Seattle Times)

• Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth was held out of Tuesday's workout due to back spasms.

"I'm not worried," Nationals manager Davey Johnson told reporters. "There's plenty of time."

Johnson said he didn't expect Werth to play in either of the Nationals' first two exhibition games, but he didn't plan on using too many of the Washington regulars in those games anyway. (NatsInsider.com)

• Rays rookie left-hander Matt Moore missed a second day with an abdomen strain, but Rays manager Joe Maddon told reporters the team isn't worried, they're just being cautious.

"It's an over-conservative thing we're doing right now," Maddon told reporters. "I really believe the next day or two, he should be fine." (St. Petersburg Times)

• Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is expected back in camp on Wednesday after having his Achilles tendon examined in Baltimore on Monday. The Phillies said they wouldn't have word about his status until he returns. (CSNPhilly.com)

• Joba Chamberlain, who underwent Tommy John surgery last year, threw off the mound for the first time Tuesday since the surgery. He threw 16 pitches and said he felt good afterward. He hopes to return in June. (Star-Ledger)

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Posted on: February 28, 2012 1:19 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 1:21 pm
 

Nationals' Johnson says it's playoffs or bust

Davey JohnsonBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Nationals manager Davey Johnson is confident in his team, even if others may think the Nationals are a year or two away.

"We should make the playoffs," Johnson told CSN's Kelli Johnson (via the Washington Post). "There's no doubt in my mind."

The TV reporter asked Johnson if he'd consider this season a failure if the Nationals didn't make the playoffs.

"No question in my mind," Johnson said. "And they can fire me."

The 69-year-old Johnson took over the Nationals last June and went 40-43 in his 83 games of the season.

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Posted on: February 28, 2012 11:34 am
Edited on: February 28, 2012 12:02 pm
 

Guillen's one rule: be on time for the anthem

Ozzie Guillen

By C. Trent Rosecrans


There's been a lot of talk about rules in the last couple of days in response to Bobby Valentine's new rule banning alcohol in the clubhouse. The Marlins don't have such a rule.

New Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen went on a rant -- a rant that could only come from Guillen -- about his one rule: be on time for the National Anthem.

Here's part of what he said, from Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post:
"I don’t care if you go there buck-naked with your pants (bleeping) down your ass, your hair down to your legs. Just win games. When you win games you look cool. When you lose games, you look dirty," Guillen said.

"Be on time and play the game right – that's my rule. It should be that way. If you're late, you better give me a good excuse…

"You're late for the (bleeping) National Anthem? The National Anthem is (bleeping) 10 minutes before the game starts. We're going to start in 10 minutes and you're late?"
"A lot of people have been kllled to make this country free for us. You should be there for at least two minutes," he said.

"Respect that, especially if you come from another (darn) country, you should be there an hour before…

"I think it looks good for baseball when you are in the stands and you see the team respect the National Anthem," he said.

"Kids can see that, the respect."
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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