Dodgers starter Zack Greinke told Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles on Saturday that he “can’t think of one reason to be excited” for his club’s season-opening showcase against the Arizona Diamondbacks on March 22-23 at the Sydney Cricket Grounds in eastern Australia. Those comments have not gone unnoticed down under.
A few excerpts from the Sydney Morning Herald:
Organisers in Sydney are far from thrilled with Greinke’s outburst but are holding off on making comment until they’ve spoken to relevant parties in America.
The opening series at the SCG has been planned in close consultation with the Major League Baseball Players Association and the Dodgers and Diamondbacks clubs, and Australian baseball representatives have now asked for a please explain.
Arizona pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Patrick Corbin have spoken of their desire to be a part of history in Sydney, but it seems big brothers the Dodgers may feel the venture is beneath them.
The Dodgers are also reportedly considering leaving their No.1 pitching ace Clayton Kershaw back in the United States, with their March 22-23 opening series against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Sydney looking more like a chore for the powerhouse side than a historic chance to spread the baseball gospel.
Greinke is celebrated for being open and honest, but he was probably too open and honest in this case. A trip to Australia is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for most U.S. citizens and spreading baseball passion is a worthy pursuit. Nobody wants to hear a $147 million pitcher whine about being slightly inconvenienced.
Greinke is tentatively scheduled to start the second game of the two-game Australian series.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.