With the start of spring training each year comes the start of position battles — two or three guys, fighting for one roster spot or one particular gig.
The Braves have a position battle going on in the back end of their bullpen, where Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters are vying to become Billy Wagner’s replacement at closer. The Pirates have a similar thing going on between hard-throwing relievers Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek.
Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle is not expected to settle on one of the two until well into the Grapefruit League schedule, but one Pirates beat writer has identified a favorite.
Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wrote Sunday in his “Spring Training At A Glance” column that “most signs point toward” Hanrahan winning the gig because of his past experience closing games and his heftier contract.
Hanrahan, 29, posted a 3.62 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and struck out 100 batters in only 69.2 innings last season. He will make $1.4 million this year as a first-year arbitration-eligible player. Meek, 27, finished with a 2.14 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 70 strikeouts in 80 innings in 2010. He is not yet eligible for salary arbitration.
The Pirates might not have the greatest overall roster, but the back end of their bullpen should be just fine.
Per Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, a fan fell into the Yankees’ dugout at Safeco Field in the eighth inning of Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Mariners.
The Yankees were heading into the bottom half of the inning when catcher Brian McCann heard “a loud thud” and looked over to find a fan laying on the dugout floor. According to McCann, the fan “basically knocked himself out.”
Manager Joe Girardi said the incident “kind of freaked me out, actually.”
McCann added, “You don’t know his intentions. It looked like he was trying to run on the field, but he didn’t make it there. It could have been worse.”
That McCann and Girardi aren’t immediately trusting of an uninvited visitor to the dugout has merit. In 2002, two fans ran onto the field and attacked Tom Gamboa, then the Royals’ first base coach. One of the two was in possession of a knife. Typically, fans that trespass are drunk and want attention, but to echo McCann’s sentiment, you never know.
There’s a headline you’ve never read before. Rangers starter Yu Darvish has taken 12 plate appearances in the major leagues over parts of four seasons and has yet to homer. Not surprising. He pitches in the American League and wasn’t a particularly great hitter when he pitched in Japan, either. He had four singles and a double in 38 PA over parts of seven seasons from 2005-11.
Which made this all the better:
That was a 1-2 fastball from Reds starter Tim Adleman and Darvish hit it out to dead center field at Great American Ball Park. That’s a ride.