Damon's Steal: instant history

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On the one hand, the double steal by Damon in the 9th doesn’t really
matter, right? He’d be on second base before the A-Rod hit and still
would have scored, even if someone had thought to cover third.

On the
other hand, Brad Lidge was on the mound, and that guy is something less
than grace under pressure. You know he was worked up about that play
when he hit Teixeira, and you have to figure he was still thinking
about it when he threw the pitch to A-Rod. Heck, he may have still been thinking about the Pujols homer in the 2005 NLCS or that time he got the wedgie during 7th grade gym. Fine pitcher all things considered, but an ice man he is not.

But who cares about the cold analysis here: as it happened, were you thinking anything but “WOW!” or, if you’re a Phillies fan, at least a hearty “WTF?!!”  I personally have no horse in this race, but I’ll admit that I stood up and shouted at
my TV when Damon took off from second, just as amazed at the steal itself as I was at how quickly he reacted, realizing that
there was no one at third and that he had the edge in the footrace. My
next thought was “man, they’ve been playing baseball for more than 150
years, so you’d think everything that has happened could happen, and
then something like THIS happens.” I’m guessing some guy will dig deep
somewhere today and find an account of this happening before, but the
fact that he’ll have to dig is testament enough to that play.

But maybe it hasn’t happened. Think about the perfect storm of
weirdness that had to occur for Damon to be able to swipe two: (1) the overshift
had to be on with the third baseman covering the play, just like they did for Teixeira; (2) someone had to be stealing with an overshift
on, which by definition means that someone is attempting a steal when a
fierce pull hitting lefty is at the plate, which is usually a dumb play — you let your slugger slug; and (3) a defensive brain fart had to occur, at least to the extent that the
pitcher not covering third on a stolen base — something which doesn’t
come up too often — can be considered a brain fart.

If I had to guess,
I’d say that someone got a double steal awarded to them on a bad
scorer’s call at some point, when an error really should have been
recorded. My guess is that it happening exactly like Damon did it has never
happened before.

I also have to guess that with Cliff Lee going next, my pick of the Yankees in six is looking pretty safe. Although, if shell shock and momentum and all of that enters into it, they may just wrap it up tonight.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally¬†asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

John Lamb had back surgery in December, will likely get off to late start in 2016

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John Lamb was part of the Reds’ return package in last July’s Johnny Cueto trade and he had a strong showing at the Triple-A level in 2015. But the young left-hander posted a 5.80 ERA in a 10-start cup of coffee with Cincinnati late last season — his first 10 appearances as a major leaguer — and now comes word from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Lamb will probably have to get off to a late start in 2016.

Lamb underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back — a surgery that went unreported by the Reds until Tuesday afternoon. Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged on MLB Network that Lamb is behind the team’s other starting pitchers and will likely open the coming season on the disabled list. The hope is that he might be ready by mid-April.

It’s a small but frustrating blow for a rebuilding Reds team that will be looking to establish some foundational pieces in 2016. Once he is recovered, Lamb will be expected to fill the Reds’ fifth rotation spot behind Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen.

This is going to be an ugly year for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.

Masahiro Tanaka throws off mound for first time since October elbow surgery

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According to the Associated Press — via Chad Jennings of The Journal News — Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka threw off a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since undergoing a cleanup procedure on his right elbow last October.

The throwing session took place in New York, and Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild later told the media in Tampa that all of the reports he heard were good.

Tanaka might be behind some of the Yankees’ other pitchers when spring training officially begins, but he should be ready for the start of the 2016 regular season.

The 27-year-old native of Japan posted a 3.51 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 139/27 K/BB ratio across 154 innings last season for New York. He owns a 3.16 ERA (123 ERA+) in 290 1/3 innings since becoming a major leaguer in 2014.

Tanaka is still pitching with a partially-torn ligament in his right elbow that could eventually require Tommy John reconstructive surgery. His surgery last October was of the arthroscopic variety and simply removed bone spurs.