Clint Barmes plays catch for first time since hand fracture

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For the first time since fracturing a bone in his left hand in late March, Astros infielder Clint Barmes was able to put on a glove Saturday and play catch.

The 32-year-old reported no abnormal pain or discomfort in his hand during or after the light workout and still has his sights set on a late April or early May return to the major leagues.

Barmes spoke Sunday morning with Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle and seemed optimistic about reaching that goal:

“It was sore, but I didn’t expect to come out and feel 100 percent on my first day,” Barmes said. “It was great to be out on the field with a glove on my hand.”

Barmes is aiming to take dry swings with a bat on Monday, then he’ll slowly progress to live batting practice. Once activated from the disabled list, he should begin seeing regular starts at shortstop for Houston.

Yoenis Cespedes blames a lack of golf for his early season slump

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Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.

It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.

Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:

He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.

“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”

The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.