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.
Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.
Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.
Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.
Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.
It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.
While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.
The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”