With still no return date for Marco Scutaro in sight and Giants second basemen hitting a repulsive .170/.262/.296 for the season, the decision was made to call up 2011 first-round pick Joe Panik prior to Saturday’s game against the Diamondbacks.
The 23-year-old Panik was having a fine season in Triple-A, hitting .321/.382/.447 with five homers and three steals in 293 at-bats. That’s a big improvement over last year’s .257/.333/.347 line from Double-A Richmond. Drafted as a shortstop, he became a second baseman last year, seeing only spot duty at his old position. This year, he had played 61 games at second and 10 at short in Triple-A.
Brandon Hicks has been the Giants’ primary second baseman with Scutaro sidelined due to back problems, starting 56 of the team’s 74 games at the position. However, he’s hitting just .172/.289/.339 overall. The Giants’ .558 OPS from second base is the fifth worst mark any team is getting from a position this year. The only positions worse are Padres second basemen (.451), Cardinals second basemen (.534), Rays catchers (.536) and Mets catchers (.555).
Jeff Passan of Yahoo has an interesting report today. MLB and Rawlings are developing a new baseball. It will have a tacky surface on the leather, allowing pitchers to get a better grip without having to resort to sunscreen and rosin and pine tar and stuff. Substances which, in theory, are for grip but which are really used by pitchers to doctor the ball, with MLB and opposing hitters mostly looking the other way.
They tested the new balls in the Arizona Fall League last year and Passan talks to a couple of the pitchers who used the ball. More testing would be required, though, so we’re not likely to see the new balls until at least 2018.
As you know, baseball players love change, so I’m sure we won’t hear another thing about the ball and its introduction will go off seamlessly.
Wait. It’ll still have seams. You know what I mean.
The first few days of spring training have been pretty quiet. Guys are going about their business and games are being played, but we haven’t had any news or controversy or silliness or anything fun like that. That’s about to change, however, as Tim Tebow has arrived at Mets camp.
Tebow, a non-roster invite, arrived at the Mets facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida this morning and, unlike every other non-roster invite, had a press conference. You may be surprised to learn that he’s in great shape, is excited to get going and wants to improve steadily each day.
The plan for Tebow is to be a part of the minor league camp, not the major league one, so he’s not going to be as visible at workouts as you might expect. He will be playing in some major league spring training games, however, at least until we get deeper into spring training, after which you’d assume that veterans and players with a real shot of making the big club will play longer.
In the meantime, you can buy Tebow shirts. But not Curtis Granderson ones, it seems: