Boycott Arizona

A renewed call for baseball to move the All-Star Game away from Arizona

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There was a great deal of controversy over the 2011 All-Star Game being in Phoenix in the wake of Arizona passing its controversial immigration bill last year.  That more or less died down as an issue as far as baseball was concerned after the federal government sued Arizona over the law, suspending its implementation until the matter is resolved. Selig said that was good enough and everyone moved on to other things.

Dave Zirin revives the call for a baseball boycott of Arizona in a column in The Nation today, but he’s not just focused on S.B. 1070. Rather, he believes that All-Star Game should be moved because of it, the Giffords shooting, Governor Jan Brewer’s general mendacity and another new piece of proposed legislation — not passed yet — targeting school children who are illegal immigrants.  Overall, Zirin wants baseball to move the All-Star Game because because Arizona is “dangerous and bigoted” and is  “a state with aspirations of apartheid.”

I’ll say this much: the politics and general zeitgeist of Arizona make me happy I live in Ohio, and it takes an awful lot to make me happy I live in Ohio. That said, I think Zirin and others who are advocating for the All-Star Game to be moved are fighting a lost cause.

Bud Selig is the last man on the planet who would take a stand on anything. Especially a stand that would cost him or his fellow owners money, as moving the game at this late a date would do.  There are contracts in place. Stuff has been printed. The room has been rented, if you will. Bud Selig would play that game in Arizona if God Almighty came down from the heavens and commanded him to move it.  Bud would probably say something like “well, I understand and appreciate His objections, but I’ve been around long enough to know that there are two sides to every issue, so I …” and then he’d just ramble on a while more.

So Selig is a dead end. What would be more effective in my mind would be to reach out to the ballplayers likely to be selected to the game and try to persuade them to sit it out. As Zirin notes, there were already multiple players who said last summer they’d be loathe to participate in an Arizona All-Star Game as a result of S.B. 1070.  Rather than picket the ballparks and demand that Selig do something, why not try to persuade them and others to take a public stand?

That game is going to be played no matter what. If the protests leading up to the game are to prevent it, they’ll be increasingly ignored as the game’s inevitability grows.  But, if some big names noisily beg out, it will be much harder for people to ignore. The media will have to write and report about their absence.  People will talk about it and the reasons for it. And ultimately, isn’t that the point?

Evan Gattis undergoes surgery for hernia; recovery is 4-6 weeks

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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle shares the bad news

One of the Astros’ big bats won’t be taking hacks when the Astros hold their first full workout on Feb. 23.

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis recently underwent surgery to repair a hernia, the Chronicle has learned, taking away most of his spring training at a minimum. The recovery is four to six weeks but fortunately for Gattis and the Astros, the injury is not considered severe.

Gattis was working hard on his overall conditioning this winter, even telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart in late January that he had already dropped 18 pounds. It sounds like the big slugger might have gone a bit overboard with those workouts, and now he is in real danger of missing the first couple weeks of the 2016 regular season.

Gattis batted .246/.285/.463 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 153 games last season for the Astros. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and has a hearing with the Astros scheduled for February 16 to determine his salary for 2016. He requested $3.8 million and was offered $3 million when figures were exchanged a little over three weeks ago.

Suddenly the Astros’ front office might have a new talking point for those arbitrators.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

John Lamb had back surgery in December, will likely get off to late start in 2016

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John Lamb was part of the Reds’ return package in last July’s Johnny Cueto trade and he had a strong showing at the Triple-A level in 2015. But the young left-hander posted a 5.80 ERA in a 10-start cup of coffee with Cincinnati late last season — his first 10 appearances as a major leaguer — and now comes word from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Lamb will probably have to get off to a late start in 2016.

Lamb underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back — a surgery that went unreported by the Reds until Tuesday afternoon. Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged on MLB Network that Lamb is behind the team’s other starting pitchers and will likely open the coming season on the disabled list. The hope is that he might be ready by mid-April.

It’s a small but frustrating blow for a rebuilding Reds team that will be looking to establish some foundational pieces in 2016. Once he is recovered, Lamb will be expected to fill the Reds’ fifth rotation spot behind Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen.

This is going to be an ugly year for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.