Craig Calcaterra

Philadelphia Phillies' Maikel Franco celebrates as he runs around the bases after his three-run home off Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Guido Knudson during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game Friday, March 18, 2016, in Clearwater, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Associated Press

Maikel Franco hits his seventh home run of the spring


Spring training stats are pretty meaningless, but at some point a guy is either pitching so well or hitting so well that you can’t help but think it means good things are in the offing. It helps if the player doing the damage is good as it is and is projected to be even better. That’s the case with Maikel Franco of the Phillies, who hit his seventh spring training homer today.

The dinger, a three-run blast, came in a joke of an inning, as the Phillies scored nine runs in the fourth against the Pirates. They’d go on to win 15-12. In addition to Franco’s blast Ryan Howard hit a grand slam and Peter Bourjos and Cameron Rupp each went long as well. Howard drove in five runs.

Here’s Franco’s blast. Imagine how much farther it would’ve gone if, instead of merely showing up on time to training camp, he showed up early.

Rays closer Brad Boxberger out at least 8 weeks

Brad Boxberger
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) Tampa Bay Rays closer Brad Boxberger will miss at least eight weeks after having abdominal muscle surgery.

The American League saves leader had the operation in Philadelphia, manager Kevin Cash said Friday. There is no timetable for his return, but Cash said the team will have a better idea after the first four weeks of recovery.

Cash added that the “core muscle” injury had been nagging Boxberger this spring and he needed to take care of it.

“It was very unique that it wasn’t really causing pain,” he said. “Had we not got it fixed, then it nags for a long time. . Box was in good spirits, and (it was) a very successful procedure.”

In 2015, Boxberger had 41 saves in 47 opportunities. The 27-year-old right-hander was 4-10 with a 3.71 ERA. He was an All-Star for the first time.

Cash did not name a new closer. The team will distribute the role for now among Alex Colome, Xavier Cedeno, Danny Farquhar, Steve Geltz and Ryan Webb.

“It’s a blow because he’s so valuable to our team, especially at the back end of a game,” Cash said. “We have a number of guys that could try to fill that void for the first month of the year. . We will close how it matches up and who is ready to pitch on each given night.”

Paul Konerko talks about retired life and being burned out on baseball

Paul Konerko

As the White Sox contend with a surprise retirement, their most famous planned retiree in recent years, Paul Konerko, visited Camelback Ranch. Colleen Kane of the Tribune has a story about him and it’s pretty enlightening with respect a recently-retired player’s mindset.

Konerko is entering his second season as a civilian and he’s not at all ready to come back as a coach or in some other formal capacity. He has little kids at home still and talks about “burnout” from baseball. From the context it’s not the same sort of burnout you or I might feel at our regular jobs as there isn’t an element of, I dunno, disillusion to it that your typical burnt out office worker feels. It’s more like being spent. Like, Konerko was just done with baseball when he left and still feels done with it and doesn’t have an itch to return. Unlike some players who try to come back, you get the sense that Konerko left at just the right time.

He also offers this glimpse into the day-to-day of retired life, which I found amusing:

“The first year is great because everything that happens, good or bad, you’re like, ‘This is great,’ because it’s a new experience,” Konerko said. “Even when stuff goes wrong, something breaks at the house, you’re like, ‘Hey, I’m here to fix it. This is great.’

“After the first year, you’re like, ‘All right, I’ve been running a lot of errands to the store.’ Doing the same things over and over again, it kind of gets monotonous.”

And then, a year or two later, after the runs to the store go from monotonous to miserable, you replace Robin Ventura, presumably.