Yoenis Cespedes is one smart dude

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Many people thought that the Yoenis Cespedes would sign with the Marlins. He’s Cuban! It’s Miami! It fits so perfectly!  And then it didn’t happen, of course.

In light of all of the Ozzie Guillen stuff, it seems pretty smart, no?  Because who would want any part of that minefield? Not Cespedes, that’s for sure. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports:

“Miami’s very political, and he feels more at ease, more relaxed here,” said Amaury Pi-Gonzalez, the longtime announcer who’s working on the A’s Spanish broadcasts this year. “When I met (Céspedes), I said, ‘I will not ask you anything political.’ He said, ‘Even if you did, I won’t talk about it.’

“From that indication, he doesn’t want to get involved. He just wants to play ball. He could be idolized in Miami, but the pressure would be humongous … The Marlins never had a big Cuban superstar (hitter). He could be a hero on that team, but if he lays an egg, the pressure could be bigger than in Oakland.”

Pressure to perform, sure. But what happens the first time he does a putatively fluff interview for the Sunday insert and says something like “I met Castro at a state dinner once. He could really dance well” and he doesn’t back that up with a condemnation of his policies?

He doesn’t need that kind of trouble.

Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals’ Opening Day starter

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Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.

Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.

Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.

The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.