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More observations from Hohokam Park

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Sorry I’m all photo crazy today. Just really jazzed to be where baseball is happening and I feel more like soaking it in than thinking too hard about it.  Here’s something to soak in:

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Seven bucks for an Old Style? Yikes. He told me I “looked like an Old Style Man.” I politely declined. I mean, I’m not above snagging a beer while I’m at the park — it’s not like I’d take it up to the press box — but I’m not gonna start in with Old Styles three innings in to my first spring training game when I’m running a monster sleep deficit.

Something else to soak in: Yasiel Puig’s name auto-corrects on an iPhone to “Haskell Lying.”  He also hit the crap out of this ball as I was walking along the concourse:

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I’m really curious to see how Puig does. He hit .330/.430/.581 with 17 homers and a 39/49 K/BB ratio in 327 at-bats at age 19 in Cuba. Many are skeptical about how he projects — and obviously me watching two whole plate appearances from him today means nothing — but he could be a lot of fun.

Random: The Cubs wear their regular season uniforms for home spring training games. I like that a lot. Dress for the job you want. Look the part be the part. More teams should do it. And yes, this is coming from a guy who wears pajamas all day, but (a) I have the job I want; and (b) wearing pajamas is looking the part for this gig.

Also fun: I spent the first few innings in a seat up high along the third base line. Right above me was a party deck with some corporate types, out for a corporate outing at the old ball park. Overheard:

P.A. Announcer: “Now batting for the Cubs, number 12, Alfonso Soriano.”

Man 1: Soriano. Why do I know that name?

Man 2: I think he used to play for the Yankees, right?

Man 1: Yeah. He’s the Yankees second baseman. Or he was. A year or two ago, I think.

Man 2: Yeah.

High beer prices, less-than-plugged-in crowds. But I don’t care a lick because I’m at a ballpark.

Now where’s that Old Style guy? If I can get him down to $5, we may be able to do some business.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.