Everything you want to know about the Cactus League experience

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It’s still raining in the desert and most teams here have cancelled morning workouts. I figure it’s just a matter of time before they bang the games too, so I’m sort of in a holding pattern, trying to figure out how to spend my day. I may go to the Italy-Canada WBC game, which is under the roof at Chase Field. I don’t know. The only set plan is USA-Mexico this evening.

In the meantime I’m eating tasty stuff in one of the best joints in all of Phoenix and reading basebally things. Here’s a basebally thing: an interview with me about all of the Cactus League parks over at ParkGrades.com. Stuff like:

Question about Phoenix Municipal Stadium – Phoenix Muni is the oldest of the Cactus League Stadiums, and you’ve described as “how the Soviets would build their stadiums if they had the good sense to like baseball.” My question to you: how would the Soviets have built their rosters if they had they good sense to like baseball?

 Craig: Probably a lot of corner guys. First basemen with pop but not good glove work. Power first. A lot of Ivan Drago types. I say that under the assumption that it’s still OK to make fun of Soviets. If not, I apologize if I have offended any Soviets.

Enjoy.

Check out Minute Maid Park without Tal’s Hill

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During the offseason, the Astros finally got rid of Tal’s Hill in center field. It was a throwback to older stadiums, some of which had uneven topography — Crosley Field, namely. As unique as it was in the age of cookie cutter sports stadiums, most of us were holding our collective breaths hoping no one ruptured an Achilles or suffered another brutal injury trying to navigate the hill while attempting to catch a fly ball.

We saw what it looked like during reconstruction:

And now, via Julia Morales of ROOT Sports, we see what it looks like after all the work has been done:

The Astros are allowing fans with Lexus Field Club tickets to stand on the new warning track to watch batting practice and shag fly balls as well, Morales notes. Lexus Field Club is where Tal’s Hill used to be.

Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

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Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.