Baseball fans and players are making the most out of spring training as teams begin to take shape. There is still a lot of work to be done and a great number of prospects and aspiring players (Tim Tebow) are soon going to be handed their walking papers, shuffled down to the minors or simply (and politely) told that perhaps baseball isn’t their appropriate vocation. When the final rosters emerge and MLB Opening Day is here, an exciting season is going to get underway.
Rocky Times In Colorado?
Nolan Arenado just signed an eight-year contract extension with the Colorado Rockies last year, but this doesn’t mean his future is secure. It’s known throughout the league that he and GM Jeff Bridich don’t see eye to eye, and Arenado is incensed that the executive Cy would “disrespect” him. They have to spend time together because of spring training, but rocky times in Colorado could lay ahead as Arenado is on the short list of potential trades to be made before Opening Day.
Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez got off to a slow start when he hit the National League, and his future seemed a little unstable. However, the Atlanta Braves saw something in him that attracted their attention, and it appears they were right. He’s getting off to a good start and spring training finds him with a 2.08 ERA and just seven hits allowed across a little more than eight innings. Since the Braves are going to need someone to take the place of the injured Cole Hamels, Hernandez seems to be up for the challenge.
The Cleveland Indians are getting off to a respectable start, and part of it can be squarely placed on the shoulders of Bobby Bradley. He hasn’t always been consistent, especially in spring training, but is getting off on the right foot with a .313 at bat, two homers and four RBI. With three weeks left in the camp, the Indians are beginning to look like a real baseball team again.
The Washington Nationals are still reveling in their World Series victory from last season, which they secured despite allegations of cheating on the part of the Houston Astros. Still, there’s no time to bask in the glory of yesteryear, and the team has to get ready for a new season. Joe Ross is hoping to make a difference on the mound for the team and has already logged five scoreless innings as he tries for a spot in the rotation. Left fielder Juan Soto is ready to bring his bat to the plate and the 21-year-old is showing all the makings of an eventual MVP.
The 67 players working the field for the Tampa Bay Rays during spring training all come with impressive talent, but, eventually, some will have to be dismissed. Among that list most likely won’t be Hunter Renfroe, brought over from the San Diego Padres last December, who has been able to light up the field both in left field and at the plate. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, who switches between third base and outfield, is on a $12-million free agency acquisition signed in December, and his chances are looking good, as well.
It hasn’t been all fun and games the past couple of weeks, though. Last night, the Arizona Diamondbacks were ready to take on the Kansas City Royals when the game had to suddenly be delayed. It appears that a police canine unit sensed something was off with a vehicle outside the stadium and led the local police department to call in its Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team to search for a bomb. Fortunately, it was a false alarm and the game was able to proceed (the Royals won, 6-4).
While it isn’t uncommon for the opposing teams’ fans to heckle players when they get to the plate, this year is going to see a whole new level of attacks, at least for one team. If spring training is any indication, the Houston Astros are in for a very long season and are not going to be able to escape the sign-stealing controversy that is now rocking the league. As the team travels for away games once the regular season starts, the negativity is almost certainly going to get worse.