Indians Equipment Bag

Scenes from Spring Training: Manny Acta is on MY side

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Yeah, it’s another equipment bag shot. I can’t help myself. If you threw a bunch of equipment bags on someone’s front lawn on a cloudy day in November, I’d still take pictures of it.

Hanging around the Indians complex here in Goodyear has been great fun today.  For one thing, the place is crawling with Ohioans, and that’s good juju. I mean, we can’t cook that well and the coasts and big cities frighten and confuse us, but we’re really nice. Oh so pleasant.

Also pleasant: the Indians’ staff.  I came in this morning with an idea to interview someone, and they gave me (a) the general manager, Chris Antonetti; and (b) the Opening Day starter, Justin Masterson. Each of whom were kind and patient with my sub-par interviewing skills. Of course, as I noted this morning, that means that I’ll never write anything honest about them again. Sorry!  Look for the Antonetti interview on NBC SportsTalk tonight at 6PM Eastern.  I’ll write something up about Masterson later.

I wish my interactions with the media were so cordial. Sitting next to me for much of this morning was Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. Oh, we’re friendly with one another. He’s a good reporter and has always been nice.  But today our friendship ended when he — after noting his premature gray hair — said “I’d rather look like Anderson Cooper than Craig Calcaterra.”  I tweeted about it and even Gleeman took Bastians’s side. The anti-baldness sentiment in this country is intolerable. We’re the only minority people feel comfortable slamming. You’re all savages in that way and should be ashamed of yourselves.

But I’m not one to be a victim. I took my fight to the top. When I saw this man warming up before throwing some batting practice:

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That, my friends, is Manny Acta. Who is himself bald. And by good fortune, Jordan “anti-baldite” Bastian was standing there too.  So I told on him:

Me: Jordan said that he’d rather be gray than bald.

Manny: Nothin’ wrong with being bald. My wife says I look good this way.

Jordan: My wife says I look good gray. Wives are good at lying like that.

Me: you should probably take Jordan’s media credentials away.

Manny just smiled.  But then he talked about how he could get hair if he wanted to — “get that surgery” — but that “I’m comfortable in my own skin, man.”  Of course he is. Because he’s Manny Acta and Manny Acta is (a) bald; and (b) bald is beautiful and bald people just understand the world better than the rest of you ugly, covered-up-headed people.

Oh well. And now for no particular reason, I give you a picture of Stevan Pope. The man who has been my cameraman this week.

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Stevan is really good at not making fun of me for not knowing a damn thing about being in front of a camera.  Nice guy.

Going to the Angels-Indians game here shortly. Talk to you later.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.

Masahiro Tanaka throws off mound for first time since October elbow surgery

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According to the Associated Press — via Chad Jennings of The Journal News — Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka threw off a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since undergoing a cleanup procedure on his right elbow last October.

The throwing session took place in New York, and Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild later told the media in Tampa that all of the reports he heard were good.

Tanaka might be behind some of the Yankees’ other pitchers when spring training officially begins, but he should be ready for the start of the 2016 regular season.

The 27-year-old native of Japan posted a 3.51 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 139/27 K/BB ratio across 154 innings last season for New York. He owns a 3.16 ERA (123 ERA+) in 290 1/3 innings since becoming a major leaguer in 2014.

Tanaka is still pitching with a partially-torn ligament in his right elbow that could eventually require Tommy John reconstructive surgery. His surgery last October was of the arthroscopic variety and simply removed bone spurs.

Bud Selig to teach a class at Arizona State law school

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Before Bud Selig ultimately retired, he had a couple of false start retirement announcements only to have the owners beg him to sign on for one more term. In one of those false starts he talked about how the University of Wisconsin had set up an office for him in the history department and that he’d be doing some research and teaching a class now and again. And he has, in fact, taught some one-off seminars at Wisconsin’s law school and the like.

Now something a little more permanent along those lines is in the works for The Greatest Commissioner in Baseball History. The Arizona Republic reports that Selig will join the Sports Law and Business program at Arizona State University’s law school where he will teach and advise as well as start up a speakers series in which he will bring in high-powered guests. No word on how many speakers will talk about big, important historical sports law cases like, say collusion in baseball, which was orchestrated by an ownership class in the mid-to-late 80s, of which Bud Selig was far and away the most influential member. That could get sort of awkward, I suppose.

Either way, it’s a good way to keep busy. I mean, that’s what it has to be as he’s not hurting for cash, what with the obscene $6 million severance package the owners gave him to, I dunno, not give interviews about bad stuff that happened back in the day like Fay Vincent does all the time. Stuff like collusion. Maybe he gets the $6 million for some other purpose. Who can say, really? It’s never made any sort of sense otherwise.

Anyway, good luck in Tempe, Bud. Maybe I’ll stop by your office at ASU when I’m there next month — I always stay in Tempe — and we can chew the fat or climb that butte with the big A on it or something. First round at Four Peaks afterward is on me.

White Sox sign first baseman Travis Ishikawa

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First baseman Travis Ishikawa has agreed to a minor-league contract with the White Sox that includes an invitation to spring training.

Ishikawa was previously reported to have a minor-league deal with the Mariners last month, but the signing was never finalized. Now he joins the White Sox, who have Jose Abreu and Adam LaRoche ahead of him on the first base/designated hitter depth chart.

Ishikawa had some big moments for the Giants in the 2014 playoffs, but he’s a 32-year-old journeyman with a lifetime .255 batting average and .712 OPS in 488 games as a big leaguer.

It’s possible the White Sox could keep him around as a bench bat and backup first baseman/left fielder, but Ishikawa seems more likely to begin the season at Triple-A.