On the road to Arizona

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As much as I love the ice and cold of the great Midwest, it’s time to leave that nonsense behind for a spell.  As you read this, I am en route to Phoenix.  Spring training, my friends. Cactus-style.  I’ll be there until a week from Friday.

While I’m in Arizona I’ll be taking in baseball in some form or another at all times. Today is a travel day, but I’m going to loiter around a camp tomorrow — haven’t decided which one yet — and I’ll take in games every day between Friday when the Giants and Diamondbacks kick things off in Scottsdale through next Thursday.  In the mornings before games there will be more loitering about the practice fields and clubhouses. It’ll be a pip!

For those of you who followed my exploits in Florida last spring, it will be a lot like that.  I’m going to try to be a little more multi-media about it this year, however, so by all means, follow me on Twitter, where I’ll be throwing up real time observations, photos and stuff before I censor myself and edit them into a more respectable, reflective and comprehensive writeup for the blog the next morning.

Oh, and if you happen to be cactusing too, by all means, leave a comment or drop me a line with any tips, insights, happenings or observations of your own. Perhaps then we can find a way to leverage the power of HBT Nation into something greater than the rambling first person recollections of a recovering lawyer with an expense account, a flask, a laptop and a pocket camera. Synergy, don’t you know.

Talk to you again when I get to AZ.

Corey Knebel sets modern record for consecutive appearances with a strikeout

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Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.

Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.

Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.

Joey Votto thinks he can win the Home Run Derby, but hasn’t been invited yet

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Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.

In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”

Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.

Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.