A sleepy morning in Angels camp

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Not a lot happening around here today. The biggest topic of conversation surrounds when Albert Pujols is going to run the bases. Mike Scioscia said “this weekend.” Then, a few minutes later, Pujols was down by third base jogging and rounding the bag. A debate ensued among reporters as to whether that constituted “running the bases.”  It was decided that, no, that did not count.

Mike Scioscia used to give his little press availability in his office, but now he does it outside:

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It’s my third straight year of coming to Tempe, and for the third straight year Scioscia corrected a reporter who said that some random problem X was the team’s biggest issue, saying “no, personally I worry about the bullpen.” I think all managers worry about the bullpen. Even managers with good bullpens worry about the bullpen. I imagine it’s no coincidence that managers have more influence over the bullpen than anything else. Managers are all zen and don’t worry as much about that which they cannot control. Or something.

Soon that little scrum devolved into Scioscia and Pedro Gomez discussing their favorite restaurants in Phoenix. Scioscia’s is Chelsea’s Kitchen. Gomez’s is Trattoria Arrivederci. If you go, tell ’em Pedro sent you. But you can’t prove that.

Josh Hamilton was teaching Jered Weaver how to hit lefties here:

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I guess it could conceivably come up in interleague play. If I’m Scioscia, though, I tell Weaver to keep the bat on his shoulder, don’t get beaned and get his butt back to the dugout.

Pujols looked fine taking grounders:

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Guy could fall out of bed and play baseball. It’s hard to describe, but just seeing him do, well, anything, makes you realize how friggin’ talented he is. He looks better than anyone else simply pulling his windbreaker over his jersey.

Coach Dino Ebel hits flies to guys:

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They don’t seem to have one of those fly ball machines here. Maybe Casey Kotchman’s fly ball machine injury has fundamentally changed teams’ relationship with technology. I dunno.

The red rock/butte backdrop both here and at Phoenix Municipal where the A’s play scream Cactus League more than anything else here. I still remember the first time I saw Cactus League highlights on ESPN or whatever back in the 80s. In my mind, they all look like this:

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From the players’ parking lot, this stuck out in the sea of Escalades and Tahoes:

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Someone is trying to keep a low profile.

Really, not much happening here today. Just a nice, 70-something degree day without a cloud in the sky and a baseball game starting in an hour or so. Life is hard.

Michael Bourn opts out of his minor league deal with the Orioles

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Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.

Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.

As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.

Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.

Rob Manfred talks about playing regular season games in Mexico

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The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.

Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.

“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”

A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.

Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.

Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.