Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports that Derrek Lee will make his spring debut this afternoon against the Phillies, playing first base and batting third. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said last night that Lee will likely get two or three at-bats if he feels well enough.
Lee, who signed a one-year, $7.25 million contract over the winter, was sidelined for the early part of camp recovering from offseason surgery on his right thumb. The 35-year-old first baseman dealt with soreness in his right wrist once he began taking batting practice, but an MRI earlier this month didn’t reveal anything out of the ordinary.
Lee batted .260/.347/.428 with 19 homers and 80 RBI in 626 plate appearances between the Cubs and Braves last season. Though he played better after joining Atlanta for the stretch run, his .774 OPS was his lowest since 1999 as a member of the Marlins.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo has an interesting report today. MLB and Rawlings are developing a new baseball. It will have a tacky surface on the leather, allowing pitchers to get a better grip without having to resort to sunscreen and rosin and pine tar and stuff. Substances which, in theory, are for grip but which are really used by pitchers to doctor the ball, with MLB and opposing hitters mostly looking the other way.
They tested the new balls in the Arizona Fall League last year and Passan talks to a couple of the pitchers who used the ball. More testing would be required, though, so we’re not likely to see the new balls until at least 2018.
As you know, baseball players love change, so I’m sure we won’t hear another thing about the ball and its introduction will go off seamlessly.
Wait. It’ll still have seams. You know what I mean.
The first few days of spring training have been pretty quiet. Guys are going about their business and games are being played, but we haven’t had any news or controversy or silliness or anything fun like that. That’s about to change, however, as Tim Tebow has arrived at Mets camp.
Tebow, a non-roster invite, arrived at the Mets facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida this morning and, unlike every other non-roster invite, had a press conference. You may be surprised to learn that he’s in great shape, is excited to get going and wants to improve steadily each day.
The plan for Tebow is to be a part of the minor league camp, not the major league one, so he’s not going to be as visible at workouts as you might expect. He will be playing in some major league spring training games, however, at least until we get deeper into spring training, after which you’d assume that veterans and players with a real shot of making the big club will play longer.
In the meantime, you can buy Tebow shirts. But not Curtis Granderson ones, it seems: