Spring training begins in February. Thirty seconds after spring training begins, pitchers start doing those fielding drills in which they cover first base. They do those fairly damn continuously until, oh, five minutes before the first pitch on Opening Day. Pitchers moan about it, but there’s a reason they do this. Just ask the Rockies, who lost last night’s game in large part to a pitcher’s failure to cover the bag.
The Padres had runners on first and second with one out Edgmer Escalona was pitching for Colorado, when Chase Headley grounded to Todd Helton at first base. Helton checked the runner heading to second, realized he had no shot at him, and turned to flip it to the covering Escalona.
Except Escalona wasn’t covering and Headley managed to beat Helton in the foot race to the bag. That loaded the bases, and the Padres’ seventh run came one batter later when Nick Hundley hit a sac fly that would have been out number three if Escalona had remembered his training. The Padres ended up winning 7-6. Jim Tracy after the game:
“You’re taught from Day 1 that a ball hit to the right side on the ground, you move to that direction. It’s that simple.”
Or at least it should be. What won’t be simple is next spring training if the Rockies miss the playoffs by one game, because Tracy will likely run pitcher fielding practice from dawn to dusk and tell his hurlers to get their arms in shape on their own time.
Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the Blue Jays have signed Steve Pearce to a two-year deal worth $12.5 million.
Pearce, 33 had some health issues in 2016, but he hit .288/.374/.492 across 302 plate appearances when he was on the field and he mashes lefties in particular. Pearce is versatile as well, logging time at first base, second base, right field, left field, and DH in 2016 while splitting time between the Rays and Orioles.
Last week Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang was arrested in South Korea for driving under the influence of alcohol and leaving the scene of an accident. That’s bad, but it turns out that it’s nothing new. The Yonhapnews Agency reports that Kang has been arrested for DUI three times since 2009:
Gangnam Police Station in southern Seoul confirmed that it was Kang’s third DUI arrest, with the three strikes law resulting in the immediate revocation of his license. According to police, Kang had also been arrested for a DUI in August 2009 and May 2011. No personal injuries were reported in either case, though he’d caused property damage in the latter incident.
The report also notes that a companion of Kang initially claimed that he, and not Kang, was behind the wheel at the time of the accident which led to Kang’s arrest last week. It was later revealed by the car’s black box, however, that Kang was driving. So add in some obstruction of justice, whether it is charged or not, to the scene. Police are investigating that.
Between all of this and the fact that Kang is under investigation for an alleged sexual assault in Chicago this past season, a pretty ugly portrait of the Pirates’ infielder is beginning to reveal itself.