Scenes from Spring Training: It finally feels like baseball

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Maybe you don’t have to be at a ballpark on a 75 degree day in March in order for it to feel like baseball season, but it sure does help.  Because I gotta tell ya, I’m feeling baseball today.

My last actual working duty of the day happened a few minutes ago. I interviewed Torii Hunter for tonight’s NBC SportsTalk show.  You can check it out at 6PM on the NBC Sports Network. I won’t give it all away, but I can give you a tantalizing hint of the bombshells I got Hunter to drop: the Angels “just have to take care of [their] business” and it’s awful nice that key players aren’t injured this year like they were last year.  Just nuts, I realize.

Anyway, when I got done with Hunter I walked around the ballpark for a while before the first pitch.  Stuff I saw:

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Sorry. I just can’t resist the cliche equipment-bag-on-the-field-before-a-game photo. I take it every single time it presents itself.

On the other hand, I probably should resist pics like this:

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That was the second orange Marlins cap I saw in the space of about ten minutes. We all said they were ugly. We underestimated the number of dudes like this in the world.

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Ah, more traditional fans. All waiting for autographs. I walked in front of people like this along the entire first base line. Three times during my journey I was asked to pick up Sharpie markers people dripped on the field. I’m going to invent a little tether device and market it to autograph-seekers. Or else I’m just gonna stop giving the markers back and hoard them.

Meanwhile:

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The White Sox put their hands in the air. And they wave them as if they believe there are no repercussions.  Two White Sox were not stretching, though. Dayan Viciedo was being a nice guy:

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And Adam Dunn was throwing a baseball for some reason. As if that’s going to come up sometime this year or something. Whatevs, Adam.

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Oh, wait. He got the start at first base today. God, I love spring training.

The game started a few minutes ago. John Danks looks awful through one inning so far, and it’s 2-0 Angels.  Who I keep calling the Cardinals because they’re wearing red today and Albert Pujols plays for them.

Bear with me. It’s still spring training for me too.

Marcus Stroman loses no-hit bid in the seventh inning of WBC final against Puerto Rico

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
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Update (11:57 PM ET): And it’s over. Angel Pagan led off the bottom of the seventh with a line drive double down the left field line off of Stroman, ending the no-hitter. Manager Jim Leyland immediately removed Stroman from the game.

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U.S. starter Marcus Stroman has held Puerto Rico hitless through six innings thus far in the World Baseball Classic final. The Blue Jays’ right-hander has held the opposition to just one base runner — a walk — with three strikeouts on 68 pitches.

WBC rules limit a pitcher to throwing a maximum of 95 pitches in the Championship Round, so Stroman has 27 pitches left with which to play. If he hits the limit during the at-bat, he can continue throwing to the completion of that at-bat. Needless to say, though, Stroman won’t be finishing his potential no-no.

The U.S. has given four runs of support to Stroman. Ian Kinsler hit a two-run homer in the third inning. Then, in the fifth, Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen both provided RBI singles. Update: The U.S. tacked on three more in the top of the seventh when Brandon Crawford drove in two with a bases-loaded single and Giancarlo Stanton followed up with an RBI single.

We’ll keep you updated as Stroman and any pitchers that follow him attempt to complete the no-hitter. Shairon Martis is the only player to throw a no-hitter in WBC history. However, the game ended after seven innings due to the mercy rule, or as it’s known now, the “early termination” rule.

Video: Ian Kinsler homers in WBC final, rounds bases solemnly

Harry How/Getty Images
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Ian Kinsler found himself in hot water on Wednesday evening when he criticized the way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play baseball. It is his hope that kids watching the World Baseball Classic decide to emulate the emotionless way players from the U.S. play baseball as opposed to the exciting, cheerful way players from other countries tend to play the game.

Needless to say, Kinsler’s comments didn’t sit well with many people, but he has the most recent laugh. Kinsler broke a scoreless tie in the top of the third inning of Wednesday night’s WBC final against Puerto Rico, slugging a two-run home run to left-center field at Dodger Stadium off of Seth Lugo.

Kinsler, of course, rounded the bases solemnly which is sure to highlight just how cool and exciting the game of baseball is to international viewers.