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.

Kris Bryant on Joey Votto: “He’s the best player ever … He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

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The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”

Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.

Video: Daniel Descalso hits D-Backs’ third inside-the-park homer of the season

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Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.

It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.

As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.