Spring training games aren’t loaded with the weight and thrill of the regular season, at least not when it comes to stacking wins and building a case for contention in the playoffs. Still, there’s nothing to say we can’t enjoy the 13-run wins, foul ball mishaps and mammoth home runs from some of baseball’s greatest players.
Take National League MVP Kris Bryant, for instance, who catapulted a grand slam off of right-hander Brock Stewart during Saturday’s 9-3 win over the Dodgers:
The Cubs were up 3-2 in the fourth inning when Bryant struck, padding the lead behind starter Kyle Hendricks in the team’s bid for their second Cactus League win of the spring. It was his first home run of 2017, albeit not one that will count towards his total when he attempts to repeat his success as MVP and World Series champion later this year.
Bryant slashed .292/.385/.554 with 39 home runs (only one of them a grand slam) and 102 RBI in 2016, leading his team — and the rest of the National League — with a career-best 8.4 fWAR. He’s 2-for-12 in Cactus League play through five games.
The Dodgers beat the Twins last night thanks to a Cody Bellinger three-run homer. But Bellinger was not the only Dodgers rookie who had a notable game. A far more unconventional one is worth mentioning as well.
That rookie is reliever Edward Paredes, who made his big league debut last night. What makes him unconventional: he’s 30. Turns 31 in September, actually. Paredes pitched professionally for 12 years before making it to The Show. Most of that time was in the affiliated minors in the Mariners, Indians, Angels and Dodgers organizations. He spent time in the independent Atlantic League in 2013-15 as well.
Paredes did not do anything heroic last night. It was more of a right place/right time kind of appearance, retiring the side in order with a fly out, line out and a ground out and remaining the pitcher of record while Bellinger hit that three-run homer. That’s enough for a W, though. A W that Paredes waited a lot longer for than most pitchers who notch one in the bigs.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network says that the Nationals could pursue Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray if Stephen Strasburg‘s forearm issue lingers. Strasburg left Sunday’s start early due to forearm tightness, saying he was unable to get loose. Sometimes that’s a sign of a major injury. Sometimes it’s just a thing that happens and then goes away.
The Nationals will have to make a determination as to how big a deal this all is pretty soon, though, as a lot of other teams, including the Yankees, Brewers and Astros have all been linked to Gray. It seems inevitable at this point that the A’s will move their ace before Monday’s trade deadline.
Gray is set to start tonight. It may very well be his last in an A’s uniform.