The protests against Arizona hosting the 2011 All-Star Game continue (although much more quietly this week), but the team is not at all worried:
“I’ve had absolutely no indication that we’d lose the game. In fact, I’m confident that it will stay here. I think it’s a difficult
precedent for any league to set, making decisions based upon
controversial state bills.”
That’s Dbacks’ CEO Derrick Hall, who makes a point I generally agree with, but who is seemingly forgetting that the NFL set exactly that precedent with the Super Bowl in 1993.
And when I say I agree with his point, I’m not saying that the game shouldn’t be pulled (I’m kind of agnostic on that at present) or that baseball should make some sort of statement on the immigration law. I’m simply agreeing with the notion that, yeah, it’s pretty hard for a league to pull a marquee event like an All-Star Game just like that.
It’s a politics thing. No, not immigration politics, but internal baseball politics. The horse-trading, lobbying, interest-balancing and boot-licking (along with any number of other “ings”) that goes into granting a city an All-Star Game is of a scope so great that backtracking on one of those decisions creates a ripple effect.
If you pull the game from Arizona in 2011, you probably have to promise another one back to them once the law is changed or the heat dies down or something. That runs into the other teams who are already scheduled or are lobbying to be scheduled in the future. And then there’s the question of where to play next year, which kicks off a whole new, more urgent round of all of that stuff.
Baseball doesn’t want any part of that. For that reason, I seriously doubt that they’ll move the 2011 All-Star Game absent some major, major event like civil unrest on the streets of Phoenix or a MLBPA-sanctioned boycott of the game. Riding out extrernal heat is much easier for them as an organization than creating new internal heat.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.
According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.
Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.
While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.
Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.
More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.
Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.