TAMPA — I made a miscalculation in schedule and did not realize that both the Phillies and the Yankees are playing night games rather than day games today. That means the closest team with a day game to me is (a) 75 miles away; and (b) is the Atlanta Braves, who play the Nationals at 1pm this afternoon.
I haven’t actively tried to avoid the Braves while I’m down here, but I have thought that it might be OK if I miss them. Partially because I was just at Disney World in December and I wouldn’t mind avoiding it out of principle, partially because the Braves are my team. I like to see my team, of course, but I do wonder how I’ll approach the job today given that I’ll be in their clubhouse and press box and stuff. I’m not the sort who will cheer in the press box — that’s the ultimate reporter no-no — but I don wonder if I can refrain from bitching in the press box. Like, if Fredi Gonzalez bunts in the second inning of a 0-0 spring training game, will I be able to refrain from grumbling at him?
Well, I suppose we’ll see. Check back later today for that. And follow me on Twitter during the game. I may have to use that as an outlet.
For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East
Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams. The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.
Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:
Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays
Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.
On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.