O's don't rule out outside help for second base

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Brian Roberts headshot.jpgWhile acknowledging that the Orioles are confident Brian Roberts will be ready for the start of the season, team president Andy MacPhail concedes that he is beginning to worry about the pace of his recovery.

“It’s getting to be something that’s on my radar screen, even though at
the present time our athletic staff feels like he’s going to be ready by
Opening Day. By now we have to start thinking about, ‘What if he isn’t
ready?'”

Roberts was diagnosed with a small herniated disk in his back last month and experienced a setback this week with a reaction to some anti-inflammatory medication. Currently suffering with “flu-like” symptoms, Roberts is expected to be sidelined from baseball activities through at least Thursday. As the regular season looms, MacPhail hasn’t ruled out seeking outside help if Roberts continues to face setbacks.

“We will see what’s out there,” he said. “Obviously, we have weekly
calls with our pro scouts, and we have to let them know what’s going on
in our camp. We might have to shift their focus a little bit from what
the initial menu was. And then, obviously, we are going to have to start
exploring more internal options as well.”

There isn’t much left in free agency, but looking at current internal options, Justin Turner could be a decent stopgap in a pinch. Turner, 25, was acquired from the Reds in the Ramon Hernandez trade in 2008. He doesn’t project to be a major league regular, however he has a .307/.373/.430 batting line over four seasons in the minors, doesn’t strike out often and won’t hurt you with the glove. Unfortunately, he’s currently nursing a foot contusion.

Of course, the real concern is if Roberts’ back problems will be a lingering issue throughout the season.
 

The umps have dropped their Ian Kinsler protest

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Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union —  launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.

Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:

“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”

As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.

I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.

 

Minor league teams prepare for a “total eclipse of the park”

Salem Volcanoes
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The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes are a class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Today, the path of totality of the big solar eclipse we’re not supposed to look at will pass right through the ballpark in which they play. What’s better: the Volcanoes are playing a game against the Hillsboro Hops as it happens.

This was by design: the team’s owner requested this home game when the schedule was made up two years ago specifically to market the heck out of the eclipse. They’re starting the game at 9:30 this morning, Pacific time, in order to maximize the fun. Spectators will receive commemorative eclipse safety glasses to wear. The game will be delayed when the eclipse hits and a NASA scientist named Noah Petro, who is from the area, will talk to the crowd about what is going on.

Salem-Keizer isn’t the only minor league game affected, by the way. There are six games in all which will feature a “total eclipse of the park.” Turn around, bright eyes.

There are no home MLB games going on in the path of totality, but MLB has put together a helpful guide in order to maximize your baseball and eclipse pleasure. If you line up some good beer with that you’l have your very own national pastime syzygy.