If you asked most baseball experts, they’d tell you that Angels prospect Tyler Chatwood is not ready for the big leagues. He made just one appearance above the Double-A level last season and turned 21 years old in December. There’s still an awful lot of polishing on the docket for the youngster.
But he didn’t play that part on Saturday evening against the White Sox. In fact, he looked like an experienced veteran.
Chatwood allowed only one run and five hits over seven innings in below-freezing temperatures at Chicago’s U.S Cellular Field, shutting down a powerful White Sox lineup by mixing a high-90s fastball and mid-70s curve. He walked only two and struck out three, needing only 92 total pitches to earn his first career major league victory in Anaheim’s 7-2 win.
The Angels are only relying on Chatwood here in mid-April because both Scott Kazmir and Joel Pineiro have landed on the disabled list. The young right-hander isn’t going to be guaranteed a rotation spot for the rest of the season, or even the rest of this month, but he can sure make things interesting if he continues to have success against quality major league lineups.
If Chatwood is doing the job and Kazmir continues to look lost when he returns, the Halos will have a big decision to make. And upside usually rules when it comes to such things.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.