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Scenes from Spring Training: Oh no, there goes Tokyo

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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.

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.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.