The beauty of spring training is that the ballparks are so cozy and intimate that you can hear conversations going in in the stands. That is also the curse. Marc Topkin of the St. Pete Times:
Rays manager Joe Maddon summoned security to remove a fan – wearing an Orioles jersey – who he said was yelling racist comments at CF B.J. Upton in the dugout duing Sunday’s game at Charlotte Sports Park.
“He said something racial and I didn’t like it,’’ Maddon said. “He can say whatever he wants, but don’t go there. And I didn’t want B.J. to go up into the stands or do anything at that point. So I just wanted to make sure he was taken out of there. There is no room for that at all.’’
A man who said he was the ejected fan went on Twitter later Sunday, claiming Maddon lied and he said nothing racial.
Topkin, however, reports that Maddon, Upton and multiple Rays’ coaches did too. I’m not exactly sure why Maddon would lie about such a thing. If you gave me a list of 300 major league managers and asked me which one would be most likely go after a rude but not racist heckler, I figure Maddon would be around my 299th or 300th choice. Say what you want about him, but being distracted by petty stuff is not really his m.o.
Everyone has First Amendment rights. Not everyone has carte blanche to exercise them to their fullest extent on private property. Good for Maddon for having a total jackwagon run out of the joint.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.