When I saw that FOX is going to debut Justin Bieber’s new video prior to Game 3 tomorrow, my first impulse was to scoff, as people of a certain age and disposition always scoff at whatever teen sensation is out conquering the world at any given moment.
But my second thought is to appreciate the move as pretty brilliant. Not just for Justin Bieber’s marketability — who cares? — but for baseball’s.
Game 3 is the early start game, with the first pitch going down before 7PM. The early start combined with all that Bieber Fever is going to ensure that a ton of young, impressionable minds are going to be watching. While I predict that the vast majority of the Bieber people will go off to shop for glittery lip gloss or trade Silly Bandz or whatever it is Bieber people do once the video is over, even a tiny percentage of those folks is a big number of people. If they stay, and if they watch, baseball may do what it’s always accused of being unable to do, and that’s attract some young fans.
A pipe dream? Maybe. But not every baseball fan was created via a nice game of catch with dad or watching the Brooklyn Dodgers through a knothole or whatever the hell old Brooklyn Dodgers fans claim they used to do. Some fans just happened to see baseball on TV once and it caught their fancy. If three minutes of bubblegum pop makes even a couple thousand new baseball fans, I for one will be happy to endure it.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.