Confirmed: Joe West is in big trouble

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Joe West.jpgYesterday I presumed, based on some comments from Bob Watson, that umpire Joe West was going to get disciplined over his recent antics.  Last night Jeff Passan of Yahoo! confirmed it. West might even get suspended:

A source said the league plans to suspend or fine West, one of its
most tenured umpires, after he solicited reporters this week to talk
about the controversy he created in April when he called the New York
Yankees and Boston Red Sox “pathetic and embarrassing” because of their
long game times.

Between West dredging up a subject MLB was peeved he addressed in
public in the first place, and the fallout from his ejections of Chicago
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and pitcher Mark Buehrle on Wednesday,
his behavior reached a tipping point for baseball officials. MLB
reprimanded West during a phone conversation Thursday and will continue
to consult with the World Umpires Assocation – of which West is
president – to determine the severity of his punishment.

I would have hoped that the “tipping point” would have come before the whole deal about West having his publicist solicit the media — he’d already done enough in my mind — but whatever it took Major League Baseball to get on this case, good for them finally getting on it.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals’ Opening Day starter

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Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.

Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.

Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.

The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.

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.