So I'm going to Spring Training

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Florida card.jpgI’ll be blogging as usual today, but first thing tomorrow I’m leaving on a jet plane and heading to Florida to check out some Spring Training wonderfulness.  It should be great: I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m working on a new grip for my changeup. The voice of the turtle is heard in our land and all of that.

The plan:

  • Mets camp on Sunday, when they play the Nats. That is, assuming the Mets don’t read this blog and decide to ban me from the premises;
  • Tuesday and Wednesday will be in Fort Meyers for the Twins and Red Sox, who will be playing the Cardinals and the Rays, respectively;
  • Thursday will be busy: Pirates-Rays at Bradenton during the day, Yankees-Braves in Tampa that night and at some point I probably need to see my mother-in-law who spends her winter in that neck of the woods. She’s not in the best shape of her life, but she’s doing pretty well for a 75 year-old woman;
  • Friday will likely be spent loitering at whichever camp in the vicinity seems the most interesting;
  • Saturday its the Phillies in Clearwater, where I’ll do my best to avoid catching a spike on the turf at Bright House Field.

Things I hope to accomplish apart from getting the hell out of Ohio for a week: Meeting some people. Learning some things. Grokking some spring training zeitgeist. Seeing how much I can get away with on the NBC expense account. Making an enemy or two. Buying my kids alligator key chains and stuff. I suppose if I try I could crack the back end of the Mets rotation. It’s all rather up in the air, actually, which makes this whole endeavor rather exciting.

If anyone has any ideas of stuff they want me to see, do, ask or whatever, by all means, let me know.  Short of that, I’m just going to jump in and see how deep the water is.

Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.