Just what you’ve been waiting for: Cacti on Parade

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For the last few years the All-Star Game host city has featured statues of some local symbol or icon plastered with MLB logos. The Statue of Liberty, the Gateway Arch, Mickey Mouse, etc.  I’m still waiting for them to do it with a beer in Milwaukee, but I’m not holding my breath.

In the meantime we have Arizona this year, where they’ll make statues out of police officers demanding proof of citizenship from non-blond people.

I keed!  It’s Cacti on Parade:

MLB has teamed up with licensee Forever Collectibles to design a series of MLB-themed cactus statues. A total of 10 statues in four different designs measuring seven and a half feet tall and weighing more than 700 pounds will be stationed at key locations around the greater Phoenix area.The statues will be uniquely decorated with bold graphics celebrating the 2011 All-Star Game, the D-backs and each of the 30 MLB clubs and the American and National Leagues. In addition, one of the statues will commemorate significant milestones in D-backs history.

I would have hoped that the statues would be bigger than seven and a half feet because, having spent 10 days in Phoenix over spring training, I discovered that absolutely no one walks in that city, so people will be buzzing by these things at 70 miles per hour.

As for the significant milestones in Dbacks history, One will obviously relate to the 2001 World Series. Another might be some major Randy Johnson accomplishment.  Perhaps we’ll see one of A.J. Hinch, moments before the team revolt undermined his tenure as manager, some seventeen minutes into said tenure.  I’ll defer to Dbacks fans for the others, but if we wait a few more weeks to paint these things, I’m sure one depicting Kirk Gibson killing someone with his bare hands will be appropriate.

Bring on the Cacti!

Pirates looking for outside outfield help

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.

Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.

Matt Barnes ejected after throwing at Manny Machado’s head

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On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.

For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”

Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.

MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”

Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.

Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.

The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.