Heyward, Hanson impress as spring play begins

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The Mets started off the Grapefruit League schedule with a 4-2 win, but it was the young Braves that stole the show Tuesday in the first game of the spring season. Tommy Hanson started and struck out three in two scoreless innings for Atlanta, while Jason Heyward, batting third and playing right field, walked twice and delivered a hard single through the right side of the infield in his three plate appearances.
Some notes from the game:
– The Mets scratched David Wright, Jose Reyes, Jason Bay, Jeff Francoeur and Luis Castillo from the starting lineup because of a rain shower that ended about an hour and a half before the game started. If that’s acting a little gun shy, well, it’s rather hard to blame them.
– Of course, the Mets did suffer the first injury in an exhibition game anyway. Elmer Dessens, the team’s second pitcher in, limped off the field in the third after taking a comebacker off his leg.
– In addition to reaching all three times up, Heyward had a steal of third base and an advancement to second on a wild pitch that he got a very good read on. The 20-year-old doesn’t need to hit 450-foot homers in order to impress.
– Kris Medlen, who was terrific in middle relief during the second half of last season, followed Hanson in the third and also pitched two scoreless innings. He may not get any starts this spring, but the Braves will want to keep him rather stretched out in case Jair Jurrjens has a setback or another starter goes down.
– Mets non-roster invite Russ Adams had the first homer of the spring, a solo shot off Chris Resop in the eighth that concluded the scoring for the day.

Alex Dickerson to miss 2017 season after undergoing back surgery

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Padres’ outfielder Alex Dickerson won’t see PETCO Park anytime soon — at least, not as its starting left fielder. The 27-year-old was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his lower back prior to the start of the 2017 season, and hasn’t made any kind of substantial progress in the months since. According to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, he suffered a setback in his recovery process last week and is set to undergo a season-ending discectomy next Wednesday.

Over 285 plate appearances, Dickerson batted .257/.333/.455 with 10 home runs and a .788 OPS for the Padres in 2016. He missed several days with a right hip contusion last July, but hasn’t experienced any substantial health problems since undergoing surgery in 2014 to repair a torn ligament in his left ankle.

The expected recovery period for lower back surgery is 3-4 months, according to Lin, which puts Dickerson’s estimated return just a few days before the end of the regular season. The Padres aren’t scraping the bottom of the NL West, but their 29-44 record doesn’t bode well for a postseason run this year. Assuming Dickerson rehabs his back in a timely manner, he should be in fine form to enter the competition for left field next spring.

Video: Hanley Ramirez’s No. 250 career home run barely left the field

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Hanley Ramirez played a pivotal role during the Red Sox’ 9-4 win over the Angels on Friday night, crushing a two-run homer off of Alex Meyer to bring the Sox up to a four-run lead in the fourth inning.

Well, crushed might be the wrong word. The ball cleared the right field fence with a mere 350 feet, landing just beyond Pesky’s Pole to bring Ramirez’s career home run total to an even 250.

According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, Ramirez’s milestone blast wasn’t the shortest home run of the year — not by a long shot. That distinction currently belongs to Rays’ outfielder Corey Dickerson, who skimmed the left field fence at Rogers Centre with a 326-foot homer back in April.