Scenes from Spring Training: Meet The Mets Part 2

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Francoeur Marquis small.jpgAfter walking the grounds I went to the media work room. Same setup as the Winter Meetings, writ-small: tables with outlets and internet connections, a lot of handouts with lineups and player facts written on them, and a bunch of working reporters who looked at me like I was from Mars. I knew most of them though, and as they walked in I kept thinking “I wonder if he read that post I wrote calling him a dumbass that time.”

One of the reporters brought in bagels for everyone. A voice from the back of the room yelled “where the bagles from?”  The reponse “Panera.”  Dejected groans filled the room.  Panera bagels are perfectly edible of course, but even a Midwesterner like me knows that they don’t compare to the real McCoy.  I actually felt kind of sorry for all the New York reporters for having to deal with something so inferior to that which they are used to. It’d be like someone from California trying to give me what they consider to be bratwurst.

As I uploaded pictures and surfed the web, I listened to the New York media chatter. Two guys were discussing Bob Klapisch’s piece about Darryl Strawberry from Saturday. They were convinced that Klapisch included all the bits about Strawberry smoking and his gut and everything as a way of getting back for some dismissive things Straw said to Klapisch during their interview. “Bob’s just killing Darryl,” one of the guys said as he read, “he must have been pissed off.”  A few minutes later one of them looked at his Blackberry and said “Rodriguez is still out with pink eye.  What the f— kind of pink eye lasts three weeks?” Good question. My daughter had pink eye last year. Two days of drops and it was over.

Leaving the media room I walked out onto the field. The Nationals had arrived and were taking batting practice and infield.  Mets players were hanging around.  At one point Jeff Francoeur and Jason Marquis had a mini-Braves reunion. I was surprised to see Ivan Rodriguez taking BP as established veterans don’t usually make road trips in spring training, but there he was hacking away. He obviously didn’t like how it went, though, because as he left the cage he threw his bat towards the dugout. It landed close to a photographer. Pudge gave the “I’m sorry” wave. The photographer gave the “no problem, but if it had hit me I would have sued you and retired, so next time throw it a bit harder” wave in return.

By this time the Mets reporters had assembled in a little circle in front of the Mets dugout. I went to go eavesdrop.  I heard two really good dirty jokes and some stories about guys from New Jersey with bad grammar. Then the subject of Davey Johnson — now an assistant to the GM in Washington — came up. One of the writers said that they heard Johnson might make the trip to the game. An almost hushed reverence came over the four or five of them, and then one of them said “Oh, I hope he comes down, gosh I’d love to see him.”  After dropping f-bombs and ethnic jokes for five minutes, the sudden switch to “gosh” made it feel like I’d entered church or something.  The old writers really love them some Davey Johnson.

After a quick lunch in the media room — questionable chicken and pasta that they actually charged us for rather than provided gratis — it was up to the press box.  After all, there was an actual game to be played yesterday.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.