Denard Span is somewhat confused

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Funny tweets from Twins center fielder Denard Span yesterday regarding what he thought was his introduction to new shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka:

Funniest thingever happened today! I thought another player that was Asian on our team was nishi!! I asked him how his English was and [he] said “it’s great man, how r u?” then i looked at him like he was crazy… Then he was like I’m not nishi matter of fact I’m from Kansas city lol … I laughed but I was so embarrassed. He was a good sport about lol

Based on the Kansas City birth and the Asian appearance, I’m assuming Span was talking to non-roster invitee infielder Ray Chang.

Here’s a confession: I have a hard time telling ballplayers apart. No, not Asian ballplayers or Latino ballplayers or black ballplayers. Just ballplayers.  I’m so conditioned from watching games on television to expect to see closeups of them with either their names on their jerseys or as a graphic underneath them — or, at the very least, with them standing at their position — that there are some non-superstars who have been around the game a long time that I probably couldn’t identify simply by looking at their face, even if they’re in uniform.

Out of context, even some bigger names might be difficult. If Chris Carpenter or C.J. Wilson sat down next to me at a bar, I’d probably not realize who they were, partially because of the improbability field created by a ballplayer sitting down next to me, probably because they’re out of uniform and thus all of the contextual clues are gone.

People are prone to suggestion, overt or otherwise. Span surely doesn’t know all of the Twins’ NRIs on the first day of camp. If he had been thinking “must meet our new Asian infielder,” and then saw Chang taking ground balls, it makes perfect sense that his brain would click “that’s Nishi.”

But still, that’s gotta be a kangaroo court fine, no?

(thanks to reader Pat McEnroe for the heads up)

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.