- The Arizona Diamondbacks are suing the Maricopa County Stadium District to alter the terms of their lease so they can seek a new ballpark before it expires in 2028.
- Former New York Giant Daryl Spencer passed away yesterday at the age of 88.
- Micah Owings talks about the role his faith has played in his professional baseball career. After spending last season in the Atlantic League, the 34-year-0ld pitcher has an invitation to spring training with the Seattle Mariners.
- Rich Mueller looks at a 1992 interview with then-Topps Vice President of Sports Sy Berger as he reminisces about the “Boyhood Photos of the Stars” subset that debuted 45 years ago in Topps’ 1972 set.
The rain stayed away from Trenton yesterday afternoon so a few hundred baseball fans could meet this year’s Thunder team.
There were free hot dogs and sodas, quick tours of the ballpark and a chance to watch the players take batting practice… but I think everybody came to get autographs.
And this early in the season, almost all of the players seemed happy to be signing autographs for fans – not that they had much choice at a team-organized autograph session.
Dante Bichette Jr. asked my friend Bart – dressed in Boston Red Sox gear as always – “Do you root for us?” Bart answered, “Of course I do – I root for all you guys to make it to the major leagues because that was my dream.” Bichette asked, “But do you root for us to beat the Red Sox?” “No,” Bart answered truthfully, and they both laughed.
The session was well-organized, with players set up in four different groups on the concourse because of the weather concerns. (Last year, the autograph stations were set up on the field where they could be spread out more.) Fans were given a map identifying who would be signing where as they entered the ballpark, and it was possible to get through all four lines if you were close enough to the front of your first one.
When I got home, I caught the Angels’ 2-0 victory over the Mariners. It was definitely a win for the “we want faster games” crowd, ending in just a little over two hours. But I don’t know how many people found it exciting television – C.J. Wilson and Huston Street held the Mariners to just two hits and no runs, while James Paxton and the Mariners bullpen were almost as stingy. The game’s only offense came from a David Freese two-run homer in the fourth inning, and neither side really had many other scoring chances.
I guess we can breathe a sigh of relief that an MRI found no structural damage to Jenrry Mejia‘s elbow, but I still wonder if a second Tommy John surgery is in his future.
Former New York Mets pitcher Johan Santana is hoping to return to the major leagues in 2015 after missing all of the last two seasons due to injuries.
But Santana’s comeback has not been going smoothly. Santana, 35, retired six straight batters in his first appearance with the Navegantes del Magallanes on January 13th. However, Santana’s manager Carlos Garcia told reporters that the pitcher’s left shoulder has been slow to recover and he won’t pitch again in the Venezuelan Winter League.
FOX Sports reporter Jon Morosi tweeted that Santana may still throw for MLB scouts, but those plans are unclear.
I’d love to see Santana’s comeback be successful – it’s always better to be able to leave on your own terms than to have injuries force you out the door. But at this stage, we might have to get ready to accept the idea that we watched Santana’s final MLB appearance on August 17, 2012.
“[Oliver Perez’s] path to being an invaluable member of the Mariners actually began the day he left the Mets for good.
“‘I couldn’t believe it,’ Perez said in a recent interview. ‘I got home and I cried with my wife. I was in shock. But I was only 29. My family told me, ‘You are too young to quit.’ ‘”
— “Dumped by Mets, Perez Revives His Career as Mariner” by David Waldstein / New York Times
Here’s something I didn’t expect to see: the Seattle Mariners have re-signed Oliver Perez to a one-year contract. The deal is reportedly worth $1.5 million guaranteed, plus an additional $600,000 in performance bonuses.
Perez, 31, would likely have attracted considerable attention on the free agent market, given his returned velocity, which we wrote about back in September. He posted a 2.12 ERA in 33 relief outings for the Mariners last season in a comeback off the scrap heap.
I have a hard time thinking of Ollie as a potentially valuable reliever after watching him struggle with walks and home runs during his final years in New York. And the one time I saw him pitch this year, he didn’t manage to retire any of the left-handed batters that he faced. But hey, small sample sizes.
Best of luck to Ollie, and best of luck to the Seattle Mariners – I just would have thought a 75-87 team would want to give younger players a chance.