Instant Karma: Angel Pagan and John Harper

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There’s nothing wrong pe se in John Harper’s Daily News column today. In fact, I’d probably rather see Fernando Martinez get the nod over Angel Pagan until Beltran comes back too. But he’s written enough dunderheaded stuff in his life that I got a chuckle out of this anyway.  The column:

The ball was hit to shallow center field, too shallow for a runner to score from third. Or so it seemed. However, Angel Pagan promptly showed again that his instincts for baseball never seem quite right, and offered reason to ask whether he should play center field in Carlos Beltran’s absence.

Today’s Mets-Cardinals game: Angel Pagan hit two-run, come-from-behind walk-off homer with one out in the ninth.

It proves virtually nothing, and Harper’s criticism of Pagan’s defense stands, but I like it simply because it illustrates how the model of writing in which a guy is bashed one day, and is made a hero the next day that seems so popular in the east coast tabloids really doesn’t lend itself to baseball.  The long view matters so much more in baseball than in any other sport, and we get so much less of the long view than we probably should.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.