Greinke’s arm, bat power the Brewers past the Nats

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Did you like that headline? Sounded just like a real newspaper article, huh? Never had one day of J-school!

Anyway, Zack Greinke, some may recall, was a pretty good prospect as a position player back in high school. He swung a nice bat and, indeed, many think he could have gone pretty far a hitter.

That was a long time ago, of course, but he got some wood on a ball today, hitting the go-ahead home run in the fifth inning of the Brewers-Nats game.  Oh, and since they pay him to pitch he did a little of that too, striking out ten dudes in seven innings of work.

This was the Brewers’ 13th win in the past 16 games.  Or their 27th in their last 50.  Or their 104th in their last 212th.  Remember, I didn’t go to J-school, so I never learned how to properly construct those littler sports reportery-sounding statistical blurbs.

The point stands, however: the Brewers are hot. And even if that four-team race so many of us predicted in the NL Central this year doesn’t materialize, we may very well have the makings of a pretty nice two or three team race soon.

Note: I am aware that the photo is blurry. Just as I’m pretending to be a real journalist for the purposes of this post, I think the AP photographer was pretending to be an artist. I kinda like it when they do that.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉