Scenes from Spring Training: Oh no, there goes Tokyo


And now, stuff I thought about and observed before learning that Coco Crisp was arrested for DUI last night

I know I’m dwelling on this a lot, but the extent to which Hideki Matsui dominates things here at Athletics’ camp cannot be overstated. From the press box to the on-the-field warmups and even down to the litter you see on the sidewalk outside the ballpark, everything is about Godzilla here.

I don’t envy these guys on the Matsui beat.  Talk to U.S. beat writers who cover a given team and you learn that it’s not easy coming up with a new angle for a new story every day, and they’ve got 25 guys plus minor leaguers and coaches to choose from. Now apply that to the a given Japanese beat writer who has to come up with a new angle every single day for one guy.  And figure in the fact that, rather than the 3-5 beat reporters Johnny Beat Writer has to compete with, the Japanese guys have 20. And they’re doing it over 5,000 miles from home. Poor sods. But I guess it beats working in an office.

They didn’t get to swarm Matsui at his locker this morning, however. The clubhouse was closed due to the annual meeting with MLB Security. Those intrepid souls go from camp to camp this time of year warning ballplayers about the dangers of shysters, bunco artists, grifters, fast women, drug dealers, demon drink and — most of all — Twitter and Facebook. Play cards and carry on all you want, young players, but dear God, watch what you Tweet.

I wandered from the closed clubhouse door and on toward the field when I saw this fellow behind a bench on the third base concourse:

I can haz Trevor Cahill’s autograph?

Then I got on to the field and I saw this:

Can’t help it. I’m a sucker for the equipment-bag-on-freshly-cut-grass-as-the-sun-comes-up-over-the-ballpark shot.  Oh, and I’m also a sucker for anything Rickey Henderson-related:

And the actual Rickey Henderson watching Athletics’ players doing base running drills is more than a little Rickey Hederson-related. “Rickey thinks that Rickey can still run better than any of y’all,” Rickey did not say but I imagine he was thinking.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.