Pitcher fielding practice is pretty damn basic. Know what else is basic? Not making the third out at third base. It’s something Brett Gardner forgot on Monday night when he was caught stealing third base to end a would-be Yankees scoring threat. It’s also something Carl Crawford forgot when he got nailed at third trying to advance on a sac fly in the 10th inning, ending the ballgame.
Though maybe we should go easy on Crawford, because the throw that got him was an absolute humdinger. Watch Greg Golson in right field with the laser shot right here. It’s totally possible that will be the play of his life.
The kicker to that play is that even if Crawford makes it, he’s at third with two outs. Sure, a wild pitch or an infield hit could score him then, but the odds strongly favor the Rays needing and getting a solid base hit to score over those options. Crawford is damn fast. He can score from second. I realize that this is hindsight, but it strikes me that trying to move to third in that situation is too great a risk.
But those of us without a rooting interest have to enjoy it. There aren’t many plays in baseball more exciting than an outfielder killing the runner. Especially when the runner has jets like Carl Crawford does.
Not all players coming in to spring training are in The Best Shapes of Their Lives. Some have put on a few pounds, such as Miguel Sano, notes Twins GM Thad Levine:
Sano has been given medical clearance to engage in all baseball workouts with his teammates, his surgically reinforced left shin now completely healed, though the Twins intend to lighten his schedule to prevent any new injuries.
They’d like to lighten something else, too: His “generous carriage,” as General Manager Thad Levine delicately put it last week. Sano’s conditioning understandably lags, after a winter largely spent incapacitated by the surgery.
Sano’s conditioning has often been a topic of conversation among the members of the Minnesota press corps, though not always in good faith. For example, last year when Sano injured his shin by fouling a ball off of it, one member of the The Fourth Estate found a way to make a column out of blaming the freak injury on Sano’s conditioning. At least in this instance his colleague is correctly noting that the poor conditioning is a result of the injury and not the cause.
Still, it’s just another issue facing Sano this spring. He’s out of shape, coming off of an injury, and — not that he’s due any sympathy for it — he’s facing a likely suspension arising out of the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him late last year.
So this spring we’ll be seeing more of Sano, it seems. At least until that time we’ll be seeing less of him.