It was reported on Friday that Stephen Strasburg’s new innings limit for the season is 180. Bill Ladson of MLB.com has a source telling him that that is not accurate, and that there is not necessarily a magic number of innings. Rather:
The Nationals are expected to have right-hander Stephen Strasburg miss two or three regular-season starts, according to a baseball source.
Well enough. But here’s the jaw-dropper:
The same source went so far as to say Strasburg will not pitch in the postseason once he is shut down.
I’m all for taking care of your young pitching talent, but I’m sorry, I find that to be utterly mind-boggling.
One can say anything one wants about caution with respect to Strasburg’s health — and I hate to echo Jeff Francoeur’s wisdom when it comes to anything — but how do Mike Rizzo and the Nationals expect their fans to take it if, in Game 5 of the NLDS, the TBS cameras repeatedly show closeups of Strasburg sitting idly by in the dugout while Edwin Jackson gets lit up by the Cardinals or someone?
I guess they say they’re protecting their most valuable asset for a long and triumphant tomorrow. If so, they had better hope it actually comes. Because there’s certainly no guarantee of that.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.