There’s a story in the Detroit Free Press about Ian Kinsler’s dissatisfaction with his stolen base totals from last year. He swiped only 15 bases and was caught 11 times. The former total was his lowest since his rookie season, the latter total was his highest ever. He discusses the reasons for why this was in the article and they make sense.
It’ll be interesting to see if, as Kinselr wishes, he’ll be able to improve on that now that he’s in Detroit. The Tigers were dead last in all of baseball last season in both stolen bases (35) and stolen base attempts (55). This despite having putative speedy fellows like Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter and Jose Iglesias in the lineup. Of course, they also had Jim Leyland at the helm, not Brad Ausmus, and Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera in the lineup and neither of those are guys who you (a) want running; or (b) want to take the bat out of their hands by running when they’re up.
Maybe the Tigers run more under Ausmus. And with Fielder gone — and the speedy Rajai Davis around — you have to figure that they will attempt more than 55 steals. Still, it seems unlikely to me that the Tigers — who were second in the AL in runs per game, after all — are going to radically change their approach. So while Kinsler should wind up with more than 15 steals, I wouldn’t expect a return to 30.
Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?
Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.
Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.