The baseball season is a very long one. For the next eight months, bats will be cracking and gloves will be popping from coast to coast throughout all hours of all days. We’re here to help you keep up with the night-in, night-out goings-on of the show.
Big Fish, New Ponds
A full slate across the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues presented the first competitive opportunity to check out familiar faces in new homes. Atop the watch list was the former Miami Marlins’ outfield triumvirate. Miami’s latest roster-gutting destruction spread a lot of talent across the majors.
All of Miami’s formerly vaunted outfield was in action Friday: Reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton started in right field for the New York Yankees, playing four innings and drawing a walk while also grounding into a double play; Christian Yelich went 1-3 for the Milwaukee Brewers; and Marcell Ozuna got a few DH at-bats for the St. Louis Cardinals, driving in a run on a sacrifice fly.
Fellow Fire-sale Fish Dee Gordon started his Seattle Mariners’ career with an opposite-field double and scored a run. He also logged three innings in center field.
But at Least Miami Has Scott Van Slyke
Scott Van Slyke is a non-roster invitee to Miami camp. That means he doesn’t have an official spot on a team that has a full roster mostly as a function of baseball’s rules and not as a reflection of big-league talent.
Van Slyke needs to make an impression. He did:
— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) February 23, 2018
The 31-year old outfielder went 2-2 with two home runs–one of which was a grand slam–and five RBIs. For a player who has about a month to make a compelling case for a bench spot, it was a fantastic start. For a team stripped to the bone, it was good for a needed smile.
It All Counts to Ian Happ
The Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers will play a lot of meaningful games against each other throughout the regular season. But for Ian Happ, Spring Training game one on February 23rd is no time to give an inch:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) February 23, 2018
Happ’s diving catch was the highlight in an otherwise listless performance by Chicago, who managed five hits while fielding a team absent most of their starting lineup. Milwaukee’s offseason trade bait Domingo Santana stroked a couple doubles, while second basemen Eric Sogard drove in both of the Brewers’ runs.
Old Faces in Old Places
I’m still not entirely sure why the Los Angeles Dodgers traded for Matt Kemp; the 33-year old outfielder is out of place on a loaded young roster, and his unwieldy contract doesn’t have a place on a team looking to control their payroll. He isn’t expected to make the team out of Spring Training, and the Dodgers have already shopped him this winter. He might end up DFA’d. Kemp’s return to Los Angeles could just be a Cactus League cameo, but while he’s here, he might as well crush a few balls for old-time’s sake.
He opened his return trip with a three-run homer off Chicago White Sox pitcher Tyler Danish, smoking a nothing-ball over the left field wall. L.A. dropped 13 on the White Sox, who at least got to see a little more of Yoan Moncada I guess?
Spring Training is About the (Camera) Angles
Check out this fantastic baseline shot of a Chris Carter sacrifice fly from the Angels’ opener against the Oakland Athletics:
— Angels (@Angels) February 23, 2018
The Spring Training experience is unique for a lot of reasons, including all the alternative looks at the field that minimalist stadiums and simpler production create. It’s never not entertaining.
Yonder Alonso‘s First Pitch Impression
former red yonder alonso crushes a ball for the first run of spring training pic.twitter.com/opGZGXfQfV
— Matt Allaire (@AllaireMatt) February 23, 2018
Last season, in 68 at-bats where he made contact with the first pitch, Yonder Alonso hit .500 with a 1.324 OPS and five home runs. He smashed the first pitch he saw as a Cleveland Indian off a tin roof.
Positive. Passionate. Proud.
It’s been just over a week since the unfathomably tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida abruptly ended 17 lives and irreversibly altered so many others. In support of the victims, MLB teams donned the caps of the school’s ball team, an interlocked burgundy “SD” set on a black hat, itself set on professional athletes around the country. The Marlins hosted the baseball and softball programs at their spring opener.
It’s a small gesture of honor and solidarity, but an important one: Sports are inconsequential when atrocities take place, but their high-exposure platform keeps critical memories from being forgotten in a constantly churning media landscape. Survivors and family members have been working admirably to inspire change in the wake of an experience they shouldn’t have had, and anything that keeps their cause and colors in focus is valuable.
The tribute is what Spring Training and the work of students from Stoneman Douglas are about: small actions now that could matter significantly in the fall.
Khurram Kalim is a senior writer for Bronx to Bushville.