I got to the Dbacks’ camp pretty early yesterday. Earlier than a lot of writers did. But almost all the players were there before I was. That’s just what they do this time of year And one player — Juan Pierre — was at White Sox camp earlier than all of the other players are:
One of the hardest working players in baseball, this is how his day begins every morning during spring training. He’s a man with an internal clock that’s always ticking, ready to rock well before the rooster crows.
“It’s just a routine. Something I follow and believe in. It’s kept me around this long,” says the speedy White Sox outfielder, who stole a career-high 68 bases in 2010, his 11th in the big leagues and first on the South Side.
Nothing stops Pierre from his early morning ritual. Well, except for one thing: The front door.
And that’s because it’s locked. Pierre gets to the clubhouse before even the security guys get there. Before 6AM each day, ready to work his butt off.
There is a lot of false hustle in spring training. Guys who reported to camp early, maybe because they’re truly dedicated, but maybe because they were bored. Guys who show up early each day, maybe because they want to work like Pierre does, but maybe because they want to hang out in the clubhouse and read the paper and b.s. with the guys as they stroll in. The managers know who’s who, however. In this case the media seems to have figured it out too.
And in this case there’s an explanation for why Juan Pierre, for all of his deficiencies as a ballplayer, manages to put together a nice year every couple of years and why he always has the confidence of his managers and coaches. The dude works. And sometimes work makes up for everything.
Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.
Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.
The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.
If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.
If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.
Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.
Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.
It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.