Good morning, all. Despite Mother Nature fighting as much as she can to keep winter around, spring is certainly around the corner. I can tell as interest is being gathered for summer softball teams, and that includes me being invited to join a second league this year. It's a team where I probably know only 3 other members, so our first team-building exercise will be to visit the batting cages at Grand Slam. I'll be pleased that we'll all be hitting off the softballs, and not turning this into a macho contest of who can hit off the hardest thrown fastballs. Viva mediocrity!
- Our first link is with our very own Vance Worley, who is possibly the best starting pitcher that will see major league action this year. David Laurila of FanGraphs sat down with Worley at spring training and discussed his pitching repertoire, which includes a 4-seam fastball that moves like a cutter, a cutter that moves like a slider, a knuckle-curve, and the odd pairing of a splitter and change-up. Also, Worley acknowledges that he doesn't get a lot of hitters to swing and miss, which doesn't correlate to his above-average strikeout rate. Despite that, he points out that an out is an out, and just like Rick Anderson and Ron Gardenhire have preached to Francisco Liriano all last season, getting an at-bat over in 3 pitches or less is not a bad thing. Worley seems to be aware of what he can and can't do, and I'm definitely interested to see how he pitches in a more forgiving ballpark this year.
- Sticking with the Twins rotation, Mike Pelfrey has lost 30 lbs. since last season, dropping from 270 to 240 (he's 6'7" tall, so don't freak out that he's still seemingly chunky). However, he's doing it without the aid of a healthy diet, as he admitted to the Pioneer Press on Thursday that his Wednesday night dinner before his start was fried chicken strips and gravy from Dairy Queen. An increase in cardio has been the real reason for his weight loss, but as Aaron Gleeman has said many times on his podcast, when you're overweight, you don't need to do much to lose those first 15 lbs. or so.
- Here's our latest collection of odd injuries suffered by players in spring training during the last week. First, Cardinals lefthander Marc Rzepczynski was golfing with teammates when he tried a punch shot around a tree, and something (he honestly doesn't know what) struck him in the eye last week. Scrabble's vision is a little foggy in the eye, but the estimated timetable had him returning sometime soon. Second, A's outfielder Michael Taylor was attempting to throw away a wad of gum when his hand hit the dugout ceiling, creating two gashes in the pinkie finger of his right hand. One of the cuts has not fully healed, so he should be able to return to action once that happens. Finally, and the most painful of all, was Mets infielder Jordany Valdespin getting hit by a Justin Verlander 94 MPH fastball right in the nether region. Even worse is that Valdespin later revealed that he wasn't wearing a cup, which is quite easy to deduce when you see him crumpled on the ground after the play. Here's two quotes from Verlander after the game (bolded part is from me).
"Next one, he totally squared at me. Right out of the hand it’s, ‘Oh, (redacted). That is right at his balls.’"
"Rhythm was off. That led to everything. Fastball control was not good. Change up was bad. Slider was bad. Breaking ball was alright."
- Lastly, Vin Scully is widely considered to be the best announcer in baseball, and he is set to begin his 64th season announcing Dodgers baseball games. Being around for that long means having a large collection of stories, and Scully shared one with MLB.com's Lyle Spencer that he's kept private for nearly 60 years. Back in 1955, Scully called Game 7 of that season's World Series, and then had a date after the game. At the time, it was probably an ordinary date, except the woman that Scully went out with was Joan Ganz, who went on to create Sesame Street 14 years later. I recommend reading the linked article to learn more about that story, along with a few others that Scully has to tell.