Terry Collins, commenting on Luis Castillo not showing up to Mets camp until — gasp! — he was required to show up:
“I was hoping he would be here,” Collins said. “Yeah, I was hoping he would be here, just so I can get the conversation over. And, again, I’m a real believer in sending a message to the organization as a player.”
Yes, in Castillo’s case I can see the value in showing up early. He’s fighting for a job and it makes all kinds of sense to act like he’s fighting hard.
But has the idea of showing up early gotten out of control? Seems like everyone’s either doing it or talking about it. It won’t be long, I imagine, before even the non-bubble players are being thought less of for actually showing up when they are required to show up rather than appearing all gung-ho about it.
The NFL got into some trouble with this a few years ago with those allegedly “voluntary” minicamps that guys lost their jobs over if they didn’t attend. I wonder if we’re not heading in that direction in baseball too. And if the union is going to start saying something about comments like Collins’.
The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.
At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.
Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.
From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.
Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.