Get to Royals’ spring training early this year

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2011 is going to be a rough, rough year for Kansas City. But as we have noted a number of times in recent months, the future is bright.  And the future will be on display this spring, because the team has invited many of its big name prospects to big league camp:

A total of 23 non-roster invitations to big league camp have been extended by the club, and six of those went to players ranked by Baseball America among the organization’s Top 10 prospects.

Those six are first baseman Eric Hosmer, who was ranked as the Royals’ No. 1 prospect by the publication, third baseman Mike Moustakas (No. 3), and left-handers John Lamb (No. 4), Mike Montgomery (No. 5), Danny Duffy (No. 7) and Chris Dwyer (No. 8). Right-hander Aaron Crow, who was ranked ninth, is on the 40-man roster, so he’ll be in camp, as well.

As is usually the case, these guys will get their hacks for a week or two and then they’ll be sent back to minor league camp.  But it has to be exciting for Royals fans to be able to get the sneak preview.

The only problem is going to be when these prospects totally outperform the guys who are going to be on the big league roster when they break camp. Awwk-ward!

Javier Baez: “This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it.”

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Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.

While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.

Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”

He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”

Mike Trout proposes change to spring training umpiring

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.

According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”

Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.