Veteran infielder Alex Cintron opts for retirement

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32-year-old infielder Alex Cintron, who had been playing with the Padres’ Triple-A club, decided to retire Tuesday, according to Tucson broadcaster Tim Hagerty.

Cintron chose to quit even though he was playing quite well.  He had two hits in his final game Monday, and he was sporting a .350/.394/.500 line in 60 at-bats for Tucson.

It’s easy to forget now, but the switch-hitting Cintron had 2,056 major league at-bats to his credit.  He won the Diamondbacks’ starting shortstop job by hitting an impressive .317/.359/.389 with 13 homers in 448 at-bats in 2003.  Technically he wasn’t a rookie at the time — though he had only 82 at-bats between 2001 and 2002, he spent too much time on the major league roster to qualify — or he would have found himself on some Rookie of the Year ballots.

Unfortunately, Cintron never duplicated that success.  He played in 154 games for the Diamondbacks in 2004, but he hit .262/.301/.363 and finished with only four homers.   He was somewhat better as a utilityman in 2005, but the Diamondbacks traded him to the White Sox for reliever Jeff Bajenaru after that season.  He went on to hit .268/.299/.366 with seven homers in 473 at-bats for the White Sox over the next two years.

After the 2007 season, Cinton started bouncing around.  He had 133 at-bats with the Orioles in 2008 and 26 with the Nationals in 2009.  He didn’t appear in the majors last year, and he opened this season in Mexico before signing a minor league deal with the Padres.

So, it wasn’t a remarkable career, but it was certainly a very good one for a guy who lasted all of the way to the 36th round in the 1997 draft.  Cintron twice finished in the top 10 in the NL in triples, and on July 8, 2004, he became the first player in Diamondbacks history to homer from both sides of the plate.

There is, indeed, an MLB-to-Portland group

Associated Press
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On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”

There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.

It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:

On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.

“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”

One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.

None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”