Scenes from Spring Training: Yu Darvish Mania

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I’m not gonna say that there’s a lot of interest in Yu Darvish’s first start, but the Padres’ PR staff has roped off 100 seats in a section along the third base line as an auxiliary media section.  Yeah, this is not your usual Wednesday morning in the Cactus League.

I got here super early and made my way to the press box to find that every single seat had a name tag on it already, with seats reserved for everyone from Ken Rosenthal on down to the weekend sports reporter of KBFE radio from East Nowhere, Texas. Add to that the usual huge contingent from the Japanese media and we’re talking a really full house.

Indeed, and this is not a joke, here is where I set up in the press box when I got here:

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A few minutes later someone from the Padres’ PR staff upgraded me from the folding tray to a folding table. Which they didn’t have to do given that I’m basically squatting, but these guys are really awesome. No joke: other major league PR staffs can take a cue or two from the Padres’ people, because they are on point today.

After I got sorted, I headed over to the Padres’ facility. Because the Peoria Sports Complex is one of those new mega-facilities housing two teams (the Mariners train here too), it was a long walk, But it’s a beautiful morning here. Crisp, a little on the cool side for Arizona, but perfect for anyone who hails from normal climes. I don’t mean to brag about how awesome my job is all the time because I know that can be annoying, but sometimes I have to pinch myself when I realize that I’m getting paid to smell the freshly-cut grass, listen to bats cracking from distant batting cages and take in perfect desert-in-winter weather. It’s beyond words.

When I got to the Padres’ place, I checked out the bulletin board. The lineup was up. As I wrote it down, a man sidled up next to me and said “skip made out a pretty good lineup today, eh?”  I was about to agree when I turned and saw that it was Bud Black who said it. What a jokester. For the record, the lineup facing Darvish today will be Cameron Maybin, Orlando Hudson, Jesus Guzman, Carlos Quentin, Will Venable, Mark Kotsay, James Darnell, John Baker and Everth Cabrera. Not quite an Opening Day lineup, but not bad either.

I made my way over to Orlando Hudson’s locker. He was friendly and accommodating like most veterans are. I was kind of worried that the Padres players would get sick of all of the questions about Darvish, but if Hudson was annoyed he didn’t show it. He said that he was interested in seeing Darvish up close — he has really only seen his World Baseball Classic action — but that it wasn’t that big a deal. It’s still so early in spring training that he’s just trying to get his timing right and all of that, so it really doesn’t matter who he’s facing. Makes sense. I suppose the Darvish stuff is more interesting for the media than it is for those guys.

As for Darvish himself: he won’t be here for another hour and a half or so. When he does get here, he’ll look up and see this, however:

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Yep: wind blowing out hard. Since I took that picture it has shifted towards right field a bit, but it’s still blowing out strong. I wish Yonder Alonso or some other real lefty power was in the lineup today.  Wind-aided or not, if Darvish gets taken deep a few times I imagine there would be a full-on media meltdown, and that would be great fun.

I’ll be checking in later with reports of how the most anticipated two innings in recent spring training history go.

David Price likely to be scratched with a “barking” elbow

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David Price is reported to have a “barking” elbow and it is expected that the Red Sox will scratch him from tonight’s start against the Royals in Boston. Dan Shaughnessy reports that the elbow soreness is similar to what he was feeling in the spring and that the Red Sox may place him on the disabled list. UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that the Red Sox gave Price an MRI yesterday.

Price was knocked around for six runs — five earned — in five innings against the Angels in his last start. He was also the subject of controversy soon after that after Shaughnessy reported the details of his run-in with Dennis Eckersley on the Sox team plane in June. That incident and his elbow are obviously separate things, but that’s not stopping the talk radio from people using the report of Price’s elbow to question is fortitude and stuff. Which is dumb, even if it is predictable. If you want to question Price’s character, fine, but to suggest that it’s related to his health is a silly way to go about it.

Price is 5-3 with a 3.82 ERA and a 63/22 K/BB ratio in 66 innings across 11 starts this year. The Red Sox are a half game up on the Yankees in the AL East.

The Yankees and A’s are at an impasse on a Sonny Gray deal

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There was a lot of talk yesterday that the New York Yankees and the Oakland A’s were close to a Sonny Gray deal, but that seems to be at an impasse now, as Jon Heyman reports that the A’s want either either Clint Frazier or Gleyber Torres and the Yankees say both of those prospects are off limits.

Frazier, who has held his own with a .284/.299/.541 line since his callup at the beginning of the month, is a key part of the Yankees future or — if you think Brian Cashman is bluffing here — a prime trade chit for someone better than Sonny Gray. Torres, despite his season ending due to Tommy John surgery following a freak play, is widely considered the Yankees shortstop of the future. Again, no one is untouchable in the right deal, but it’s an open question as to whether Sonny Gray is really the guy you burn your top prospects for.

There are lesser pitchers for whom the Yankees could trade, such as Jaime Garcia. Or, if they want to take a chance on a rental, they could go after Yu Darvish. But at the moment it does not seem like a Gray-to-New York deal is gonna happen.