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Ryan Braun: ‘Any good hitter has to be pitched up and in at times’

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We’ve written plenty in this blog today about Tony La Russa and the shenanigans in Tuesday night’s Cardinals-Brewers game, so while it’s been fun, I’m not going to rehash the whole thing again.

If you need a recap, go here, here and even here.

But I did want to point out that Ryan Braun, the innocent victim in all of this, handled the whole thing perfectly. If you’d like a lesson in maturity, Mr. La Russa, have a talk with Mr. Braun.

From Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“I get it; I certainly understand where he (La Russa) is coming from,” said Braun. “At the same time, i think any good hitter in this league has to be pitched up and in at times. I get it, Prince gets it. You have to throw Albert that way, (Matt) Holliday, Lance Berkman. You can’t allow guys to be comfortable.

“Occasionally, you have to make that pitch. Nobody wants to hit anybody. I don’t think that’s really the intent. Clearly, we weren’t trying to hit Albert on an 0-1 pitch, first and third with nobody out, and Holliday and Berkman coming up next. But I think any good hitter in this league has to be pitched that way on occasion. Again, the intent is never to hit anybody.

“In general, every good hitter, anybody that can consistently drive the ball and hit home runs, occasionally you have to throw them inside. That’s just the way the game works.”

There are plenty of good nuggets in the story, so click and read. Braun said the incident was over for him and he didn’t expect any lingering problems. He also said that he was surprised the Cardinals decided to hit him with the score tied late in the game, joking that “maybe it was an accident.”

And on a final note, Braun said that while walking to first base he told Yadier Molina that the Brewers didn’t hit Pujols on purpose, and that Molina agreed. La Russa has also stated that he didn’t think the Brewers hit Pujols on purpose, but that he needed to send a message by going inside on Braun.

But this begs the question: If the Pujols plunking was an accident, what message is La Russa trying to send? That he’ll do whatever it takes to protect his players from accidents? It’s all very silly, really, and Braun deserves praise for laughing at the whole thing.

On a side note, I tackled the issue of baseball’s unwritten rules last year, and Braun happens to be featured prominently in the piece. Check it out here.

You can follow Bob on Twitter here, or if Facebook is your thing, be his friend here.

Drew Smyly brings youth and experience to Mariners rotation

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Trades don’t surprise Drew Smyly anymore.

At age 27, the Seattle Mariners left-hander has been dealt twice. The first swap sent him from the team that drafted and developed Smyly, the Detroit Tigers, to the Tampa Bay Rays in midseason 2014. That trade landed star pitcher David Price in Detroit.

“I was surprised by that one,” Smyly said.

The most recent trade involving him came in January, when the Rays shipped Smyly to Seattle for three prospects in one of many moves by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. Smyly immediately joined the Mariners’ projected starting rotation, and is having fun getting to know his new teammates at spring training by way of manager Scott Servais’ clubhouse icebreakers.

Servais thinks Smyly is a solid fit as a still young yet experienced pitcher.

“One, being where he’s at in his career age-wise and service time, he’s kind of at the point where, put him in the right environment … very good defensive outfield, he’s a fly ball guy, maybe he does step up and take the next step,” Servais said. “Getting out of the American League East certainly should help him, but there’s no guarantees. Our division’s pretty tough.”

Servais suggested that another Arkansas native, ex-big leaguer Cliff Lee, might have helped sell Seattle on Smyly. Lee is a former Mariner and the two share an agent.

Smyly went 7-12 in a career-high 30 starts last season in Tampa, but won five games from July 30 to the end of the season after starting out 2-11. From May 21 to July 18, he lost seven straight starts.

“Pitching’s tough, you know,” Smyly said. “To manipulate the ball, to make it do different things, to put it in the strike zone with hitters that know what they’re doing. … I just had a rough stretch but I show up at the field every day, play catch and work on my craft and you know, that’s going to turn around one day.”

The 32 home runs Smyly surrendered in 2016 figure to be reduced in Seattle’s pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

“It can only help,” he said. “But it’s still going to be up to me to execute pitches and pitch well.”

Smyly is set to join the U.S. World Baseball Classic team shortly. Before that, he’ll make his first spring training start in the middle of next week.

“It’s an honor to be able to put your country on your chest and play with some of the guys on that team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it big time.”

NOTES: Servais plans to roll out what figures to be Seattle’s opening day lineup in the spring training opener Saturday against San Diego. It’s OF Jarrod Dyson, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, OF Mitch Haniger, 1B Dan Vogelbach, C Mike Zunino and OF Leonys Martin. … Servais said Cano and Cruz will play a little more than is typical for early spring games, as the two will depart for the World Baseball Classic in early March. … LHP Ariel Miranda will start Saturday, then RHP Chris Heston Sunday, RHP Yovani Gallardo on Monday and ace Felix Hernandez on Tuesday.

Mitt Romney’s sons are trying to buy a stake in the Yankees

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30:  Tagg Romney son of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives an interview during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:

The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.

I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.

In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.