Yunel Escobar thinks he was misunderstood in Atlanta

13 Comments

Upon joining the Blue Jays in Baltimore on Friday, Yunel Escobar told reporters — well, through an translator, Blue Jays bench coach Nick Leyva, anyway — that he felt he was unfairly criticized during his time in Atlanta, according to the Associated Press.

“There was a problem [in Atlanta],” Escobar said. “I feel bad that I was
getting a label I don’t think I deserved. It was inappropriate because
I’m not the type of person and not the type of player that people were
putting the label on me as being.”

The criticism has reached new heights since the trade, with ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeting on Thursday that Alex Gonzalez was greeted with a standing ovation when he walked into the Braves’ clubhouse.

Whether he acknowledges it or not, Escobar has earned the reputation as a player who dogs it on occasion. I can’t claim that I have watched the Braves as much as Craig does, but his nonchalant style was pretty obvious in last weekend’s series against the Mets. Perhaps it was the last straw for Braves manager Bobby Cox.

Let’s hope Escobar uses this trade as a motivation to be the player we all expected him to be. Beating out a bunt single in his first at-bat with the Blue Jays is a pretty good way to begin rehabbing his image.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.