As John Shipley at the Pioneer Press notes, it’s been a bad few months for Alexi Casilla. I believe that the technical term for his performance at the plate in 2009 is “butt.” Then the Twins signed Jim Thome, who took his uniform number. Then they signed Orlando Hudson who took his job. But at least he was compensated for the number thing:
First Orlando Hudson took his job, then Jim Thome took his number. At least Thome gave him a Rolex. “A very nice watch,” Alexi Casilla assures us . . .
. . . When Thome, a likely hall of famer with 564 career
home runs, was acquired this winter, Casilla surrendered his No. 25 to
the former Twins nemesis — happily, he said. Now Casilla wears No. 12,
the number he wore as he helped lead his team to the Dominican finals
Given where Casila is these days — it’s not inconceivable that he’ll be cut loose by the Twins — you wonder if Thome should have saved his money and just waited things out.
Still, I love the whole shadow economy of uniform numbers. A couple of years ago Morgan Ensberg was turned down when he offered Wilson Betemit $5,000 for number 14 on the Yankees. Giants’ punter Jeff Feagles was the Warren Buffett of this biz, once demanding — and receiving — an outdoor kitchen in his vacation home in Phoenix in exchange for giving up his number 17 to Plaxico Burress. Before that he got a family vacation to Florida from Eli Manning for giving up number 10.
If I was on the Red Sox I’d jump on number 23 now in anticipation of that big Adrian Gonzalez windfall. Joey Gathright and Adam LaRoche shared it last year, so I think it’s available.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo has an interesting report today. MLB and Rawlings are developing a new baseball. It will have a tacky surface on the leather, allowing pitchers to get a better grip without having to resort to sunscreen and rosin and pine tar and stuff. Substances which, in theory, are for grip but which are really used by pitchers to doctor the ball, with MLB and opposing hitters mostly looking the other way.
They tested the new balls in the Arizona Fall League last year and Passan talks to a couple of the pitchers who used the ball. More testing would be required, though, so we’re not likely to see the new balls until at least 2018.
As you know, baseball players love change, so I’m sure we won’t hear another thing about the ball and its introduction will go off seamlessly.
Wait. It’ll still have seams. You know what I mean.
The first few days of spring training have been pretty quiet. Guys are going about their business and games are being played, but we haven’t had any news or controversy or silliness or anything fun like that. That’s about to change, however, as Tim Tebow has arrived at Mets camp.
Tebow, a non-roster invite, arrived at the Mets facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida this morning and, unlike every other non-roster invite, had a press conference. You may be surprised to learn that he’s in great shape, is excited to get going and wants to improve steadily each day.
The plan for Tebow is to be a part of the minor league camp, not the major league one, so he’s not going to be as visible at workouts as you might expect. He will be playing in some major league spring training games, however, at least until we get deeper into spring training, after which you’d assume that veterans and players with a real shot of making the big club will play longer.
In the meantime, you can buy Tebow shirts. But not Curtis Granderson ones, it seems: