Jason Heyward, whose middle name may as well be “Braves phenom,” announced his arrival with authority when he smashed a Carlos Zambrano offering into the cheap seats for a three-run home run in his first at-bat. [Watch here]
And Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew dazzled the crowd with his inside-the-park home run against the Padres.
But the play of the day goes to Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle, whose through-the-legs flip to first baseman Paul Konerko (after he stopped a hard grounder up the middle with his foot) for an out was simply amazing.
White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham was among the impressed, as he told the Chicago Tribune:
“I was right there, so I got a pretty good look. It was pretty awesome. I was talking to the second-base umpire Bruce (Dreckman) and he said, ‘turn off the cameras now, it’s the best play of the year, first game.’ Unbelievable play. Mark’s a good athlete, and he showed it right there.”
You can watch the play – and be amazed – here. Watch the interviews below.
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Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has played in exactly one Grapefruit league game this year, and that was way back on March 2. Since then he has been totally absent from the Nats’ big league spring games, playing instead on the back fields in sim games and in minor league contests.
While that’s not an unusual course of action for an injured or rehabbing player, both Zimmerman and the Nationals insist that there is nothing wrong with him. Per this report from MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, they’re saying that Zimmerman “simply prefers to get his work done in the more controlled environment of minor league games, where the rules are lax.” He doesn’t have to dive for balls, he can lead off every inning, etc. Manager Dave Martinez says Zimmerman simply doesn’t like the usual spring training grind and that this is working for him so he’s fine with it too.
Are you buyin’ that? Not sure I’m buyin’ that.
I suppose weirder things have happened. The Minnesota Twins once let Jack Morris go back to his farm in between starts rather than stay with the club. Other accommodations have been made for veterans, especially in spring training. But this is way more in keeping with a team hiding an injury. Though I have no idea why the Nats would choose to hide an injury to Zimmerman. They’ve talked at length about Daniel Murphy‘s knees and Adam Eaton‘s seemingly never-ending rehab. If Zimmerman has some aches and pains, you’d think they’d talk about it.
On the other hand, if this is a legit story and it is simply an accommodation for a veteran who doesn’t like the normal spring training grind, look for Zimmerman to be a trailblazer, because there are a LOT of dudes who hate spring training too and would love to change things up like this.