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Scenes from Spring Training: The Giants are relaxed

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I got here just as the Giants’ clubhouse was opening.  What it lacks in luxury compare to the Diamondbacks’ palace out at Salt River, it makes up for in tranquility.  Bruce Bochy doesn’t need to bring in Navy Seals to teach the Giants how to deal with it. They’ve dealt with it.  They’re the champs and they know it.  Random observations:

Brian Wilson walked into the clubhouse right behind me. He was drinking a Starbucks and holding a folded USA Today.  I would have expected absinthe and some anarchist tract. Either his carrying of the symbols of the corporate bourgeoisie are part of an ironic put-on or else he’s not quite the loose cannon he pretends to be.

But don’t worry: Wilson was later seen giving an interview to a print reporter, sitting on a metal bleacher seat in a still-chilly stadium while wearing his underwear and t-shirt, so he’s still wacky.

The lineup had just been posted on the bulletin board. Miguel Tejada (batting third) and Travis Ishikawa (batting ninth) were looking at it. Ishikawa to Tejada: “Third? I thought that was for the best hitter on the team. What are you doing hitting third?”  Tejada to Ishikawa:”Not hitting ninth.”

It’s been written several times already, but seeing Pablo Sandoval up close really brings home how much damn weight he has lost.  He doesn’t merely look good for a fat guy. He looks good. And it’s not just fat. His shoulders and arms are fairly awesome. And it may or may not be worth noting that he love, love, loves to sing aloud and dance some to his iPod.

Tim Lincecum is starting today. He came in with a pony tail, wearing a vaguely Asian-looking sweatsuit/pajama thing and carrying an iPad in a battered leather holder. It was all very zen. How anyone’s iPad holder can be as battered as his so soon in the product’s life is a mystery to me. I can’t decide if Lincecum takes it rock climbing or if he pays a premium to some trendy boutique that pre-weathers iPad holders for well-heeled customers.

    A TV was on in the little room where players were eating breakfast. A report of Adam Wainwright’s Tommy John surgery came on.  Players watched the report silently. There was no singing and celebration. I just thought I’d get out in front of that one in case Hal McCoy is hanging around here and heard it differently than I did.
    For reasons I can’t really explain I watched Barry Zito stretching on the field. I feel obligated to note that he seems able to stretch his arm and shoulder way more than the other players can. This is important. This means something.

The best thing of all this morning? The grills are fired up here in the ballpark.  Beer is being dispensed. There’s a mediocre cover band committing atrocities of 1970s classic rock hits out on the concourse. It’s on, babies. A real baseball game between two teams.  In a little bit over an hour, pitches will be thrown in anger.

And all is right with the world.

A Mexican team wins the Caribbean Series for the third time in four years

Mexican players celebrate their victory in the Caribbean Series baseball final against Aragua Tigres of Venezuela, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Designated hitter Jorge Vazquez hit a game-winning home run leading off the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday, lifting Mexico's Venados de Mazatlan to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory and the championship of the Caribbean Series. (AP Photo/Roberto Guzman)
Associated Press
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For those who aren’t familiar, Serie del Caribe, or the Caribbean Series, is the highest club level baseball tournament in Latin America, pitting the champions of the winter leagues in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela against one another in a bacchanalia of baseball that, if there was justice in the world, we’d all be watching instead of football.

This year’s installment ended last night with Mexico’s Mazatlan Venados beating Venezuela’s Aragua Tigres 5-4 in the final game at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Jorge Vazquez — who Yankees fans may remember from a few years back — provided the winning margin when he hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning.

This is the third Serie del Caribe title for a Mexican club in the past four years, with Naranjeros de Hermosillo winning in 2014 and Yaquis de Obregón winning in 2013. Pinar del Río from Cuba won it last winter. This is the first time the Venados have won it.

As we noted yesterday, this was longtime MLB starter Freddy Garcia‘s last game. He gave up four hits and allowed two earned runs over five and a third innings for the Tigres, getting a no-decision.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

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Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.