Brian Roberts was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in his Grapefruit League debut against the Twins on Friday night. The 32-year-old second baseman had been slowed since the beginning of camp due to a slight herniated disk in his lower back.
Roberts told Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com that his performance at the plate was “obviously, not stellar” but that’s not completely unexpected with a layoff of several months.
“My last at-bat, actually I started to finally feel a lot more
comfortable in the box. My first two, I was pretty clueless,” Roberts
said. “But that’s the way it is every year. It doesn’t take long; it
only takes a couple of at-bats just to kind of get your timing going,
see the velocity. That’s the biggest thing; you just haven’t seen
velocity up until this point.”
Manager Dave Trembley said he could “care less” about the results, as long as Roberts continues to swing the bat without any pain. The O’s skipper stated that “he had every reason to be confident” that Roberts will be ready for Opening Day. Provided Roberts doesn’t feel anything in his back in the coming days, he should only need a few more games to prepare for the new season.
Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg lasted only two innings in Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks. The right-hander reportedly had trouble getting loose and it showed: he yielded a hit and three walks to the 10 batters he faced. According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Strasburg had “some nerve impingement that has been alleviated.”
Manager Dusty Baker expects Strasburg to make his next scheduled start on Saturday at home against the Rockies, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Strasburg was examined by doctors, who deemed him to be in good shape — enough to not warrant undergoing an MRI.
Through 20 starts, Strasburg owns a 3.25 ERA with a 141/37 K/BB ratio across 121 2/3 innings. Though the injury scare isn’t what the Nationals hoped for, he’s done well in the first year of his seven-year, $175 million contract extension.
Cubs starter John Lackey didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field against the White Sox. The right-hander hit four White Sox batters over the course of five innings. He yielded just two runs, though, on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He left with a 4-2 lead.
Lackey hit Jose Abreu with one out in the first inning, then hit Abreu again in the fifth. He then hit Matt Davidson and Yoan Moncada shortly thereafter. Chris Beck relieved Carlos Rodon for the White Sox in the bottom of the fifth and promptly hit Ian Happ with a fastball to lead off the frame. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale issued warnings to both benches and the beanings stopped.
So, how often do pitchers hit four batters in a game? Not that often! The last to do it was the Reds’ Josh Smith on July 4, 2015 against the Brewers. Before that, it was the Nationals’ Livan Hernandez on July 20, 2005 against the Rockies. Lackey is only the ninth pitcher to hit four batters in a game since 2000 and the 26th since 1913. The only other Cubs pitcher to do it besides Lackey was Moe Drabowsky in 1957.