Off to see the A’s vs. Italy

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I’m going to Phoenix Municipal Stadium today to see the Oakland A’s play a game against team Italy from the WBC. It’s a warmup game for everyone, obviously. I just don’t know for which team it is a greater formality.

The big names on team Italy: Anthony Rizzo. Chris Denorfia. Nick Punto, who I’ve already seen play three friggin’ times in the past six days. Jason Grilli. Drew Butera and Tyler De La Torre are the team’s catchers, but Mike Piazza is a coach and even at this point might still be a better option. Pat Venditte will be there. That’s the guy who can pitch with either arm. I sorta want to see his two-thumb glove.

I’m about as hazy about WBC things as anyone you’ll meet, but my understanding is that once a team loses two games in the first round they’re done. Italy plays Mexico in its first real WBC game and should likely get beat. Then Canada. If they somehow make it through that they probably have the United States to deal with. What I’m saying is, today’s exhibition against the A’s is one of the final few games this squad is going to play together.

But it should be fun anyway. Maybe the uniforms will be nice. And heck, with my last name perhaps I can convince someone to let me play a little.

Mets sign Jose Lobaton to minor league deal

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The Mets signed catcher Jose Lobaton to a minor league contract, the team announced Friday. The deal includes an invitation to spring training, where it’s assumed Lobaton will be in the mix for a backup role behind Travis d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki.

Lobaton, 33, is coming off of a four-year stint with the Nationals. He put up his worst career numbers in 2017, producing -0.6 fWAR after slashing just .170/.248/.277 with four home runs in 158 plate appearances. While he’ll give the Mets little to work with at the plate, his near-decade of experience behind the dish should make him a decent emergency option, if nothing else.

In the meantime, the Mets are expected to roll with a d’Arnaud/Plawecki platoon to start the season. Both catchers saw slight upticks in value over the 2017 season: d’Arnaud turned in 0.8 fWAR after hitting a career-high 16 home runs, while Plawecki collected 0.6 fWAR and three homers after raising his batting line over the Mendoza Line for the first time since 2015.