Tampa Bay Rays Photo Day

Dirk Hayhurst walks a fine line

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I’m an unabashed Dirk Hayhurst fanboy, based on “The Bullpen Gospels.” Of course, the dude still pitches and I couldn’t help but wonder as I was reading his book how his writing goes over with teammates.  Seems it’s a tad touchy, but Hayhurst makes it clear that he isn’t out to burn anyone and everyone pretty much understands one another:

“We talked to him about our concerns and he totally ameliorated our concerns by telling us basically how he was going to go about it,” manager Joe Maddon said. “And it’s not about getting anybody, not about writing about anybody in a nonfiction way or being specific.”

Instead, Hayhurst uses an interesting style: making up most names, blurring details and blending characters to create composites (or alleged composites) to provide amusing, entertaining and revealing anecdotes about life in the minors, using them to tell the story of his life (including some deeply personal passages) rather than the team.

Hayhurst is writing a second book and has a contract for a third. Now that he has some major league time under his belt — and hopefully will get more this year — it’s going to be a bit harder for him to blur the lines.  Bill James and Rob Neyer launched a fun little pastime among the baseball geek set with their concept of “tracers” (i.e. going back and fact-checking baseball anecdotes) — and it will be fun to run some tracers on Hayhurst’s future work. At some point he’ll have some fun story about “Donald Prince” that everyone will know is about David Price because Prince/Price had the same line against the Red Sox that evening before the bar brawl, and the game will be up. Which is part of the territory given his increasingly high profile.

I just hope that players today are a little more reasonable than they were back in Jim Bouton’s day, some of whom are still mad at the guy. Which seems nuts given how benign some of Bouton’s revelations seem given the passage of time, but that’s how these things go.

Justin Verlander: “I’d like to see the AL and NL have the same rules… I vote NL rules.”

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 10:  Starting pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning at Safeco Field on August 10, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
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On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”

Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:

To that, Archer said:

For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.

Rusney Castillo disappoints again by not running out a routine grounder

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 18:  Rusney Castillo #38 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after he was caught off third base for the third out of the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 18, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.