Surprisingly, some of you thought I was being serious yesterday when I made that crack about no one giving hell to Mariano Rivera for not changing his number on Jackie Robinson Day. Of course I know that he wears 42, the last player allowed to do so by virtue of being the last active player who was wearing it when Major League Baseball retired it in 1997.
There’s no way it ever could have been predicted back in 1997 that he
would be the last man to wear the number, but I’m struggling to think of
anyone more worthy of it than Rivera. The guy just oozes grace and professionalism. Indeed, it’s hard to point out anyone who played in between Jackie Robinson’s retirement and Rivera’s debut who ranks higher in these categories than Mo does.
The New York Times has a nice piece about Rivera and 42 this morning. Worth a read on one of baseball’s most special days.
For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East
Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams. The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.
Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:
Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays
Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.
On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.