Travis Hafner quietly having a good, healthy year in Cleveland

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He’s no longer the middle-of-the-lineup monster he was from 2004 to 2006 and the Indians have been pretty miserable all season, but Travis Hafner is quietly having a very productive and mostly healthy year.
He’s already played 101 games after shoulder problems limited him to a total of 151 games in the previous two seasons and Hafner has hit .298/.391/.483 in 80 games since a terrible first month.
That can’t compare to the incredible .308/.419/.611 line he posted during his three-year peak, but Hafner is hitting .347/.418/.551 since the All-Star break and has come back from the injuries to re-establish himself as a very solid designated hitter and middle-of-the-order threat. I’d credit the Indians for having the patience to stick with him throughout all the health problems and mediocre production, but in reality they didn’t have much of a choice.
As part of a contract extension signed in mid-2007, he’s making $11.5 million this season and is still owed $13 million for both 2011 and 2012, plus a $2.75 million buyout for 2013. His contract isn’t going to get any less cringe-inducing for Indians fans, but at least Hafner is back to being an asset again.

Zack Greinke named the Dbacks’ Opening Day starter

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 21:  Pitcher Zack Greinke #21 of the Arizona Diamondbacks poses for a portrait during photo day at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on February 21, 2017 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Not a surprise, but a news item on a slow news day is a news item on a slow news day: Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo has named Zack Greinke as the club’s Opening Day starter.

Greinke’s first season with the Diamondbacks is not exactly what the club hoped for when he signed a six-year, $206.5 million deal in December of 2015. He dealt with oblique and shoulder issues while struggling to a 4.37 ERA over 26 starts. Greinke hasn’t pitched yet this spring, but will make his spring debut on Friday. He and the club are obviously hoping for a quiet March and a strong beginning to the season.

Either for its own sake or to increase the trade value of a player who was acquired by the previous front office regime.

“La Vida Baseball,” celebrating Latino baseball, launches

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A new website has launched. It’s called “La Vida Baseball,” and it’s all about celebrating the past, present and future of Latino baseball from a Latino perspective.

The site, produced in partnership with the Hall of Fame, has four general areas of focus:

  • Who’s Now: Focusing on current Latino players;
  • Who’s Next: Focusing on top prospects here, in the Caribbean and in Central and South America;
  • Our Life: Off-the-Field stuff, including player’s lives, lifestyles and hobbies; and
  • Our Legends: Focusing on Latino baseball history, Hall of Famers and overlooked players.

As the site has just launched there aren’t yet a ton of stories up there, but there is one about Roberto Clemente, another about Felix Hernandez and some other stuff.

The site is much-needed. Baseball reporters for American outlets are overwhelmingly white, non-Spanish speakers. Reporters, who, generally, gravitate to the players who are the most like they are. Which is understandable on some level. When you’re writing stories about people you need to be able to communicate with them and relate to them on more than a mere perfunctory level. As such, no matter how good the intentions of baseball media, we tend to see the clubhouse and the culture of baseball from a distinctly American perspective. And we tend to paint Latino players with a broad, broad brush.

La Vida Baseball will, hopefully, remedy all of that and will, hopefully, give us a fresh and insightful depiction Latino players and their culture.