Craig Calcaterra

Yasiel Puig

This is how non-insane organizations view players arriving to camp early

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From the Los Angeles Times — headlined “Yasiel Puig says he has more respect for the game,” which is just fantastically on-the-nose — comes a story about how the Dodgers are optimistic that this is the year Puig turns a corner, maturity-wise. Part of that? The fact that he arrived to camp early.

Puig said he did so because he wants to elevate his game and be talked about as one of the best players in baseball. And not just baseball, really, as he cited Kobe Bryant and LeBron James as the sort of stars and leaders he’d like to emulate. And here’s how his team views that sort of drive:

Position players don’t have to be at Camelback Ranch until Wednesday, but Puig reported here last week with the team’s pitchers and catchers.

“That’s the first step,” said hitting coach Mark McGwire . . . “He doesn’t have to be here,” McGwire said. “He’s been here a week prior to when he’s supposed to be here. He could have stayed away today, but look at what he’s doing.”

Thank God he doesn’t play for the Yankees. If he did, some anonymous executive’s head might explode.

Beyond that: a lot of stuff in there about how Puig is vowing to show earlier to the park, work harder and listen to his coaches and teammates more. Given how the Puig narrative has gone in the past couple of years, this is a story worth bookmarking in the event a PuigSplosion hits at some point this season. Or, in case one doesn’t.

Joba Chamberlain has signed a one-year deal to return to the Tigers

Joba Chamberlain
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UPDATE: The physical is passed and the deal is official: $1 million plus incentives. Oh, and Chamberlain’s beard is gone if you care about such things.

7:12 AM: Joba Chamberlain has had a long offseason and had no team when pitchers and catchers reported last week. He has one now, however, reports Ken Rosenthal: the Detroit Tigers, where he spent 2014. He’s signed on a one-year, major league deal pending a physical.

Chamberlain tossed 63 innings with a 3.57 ERA and 59/24 K/BB ratio for the Tigers last season, though his first half was better than his second and his ALDS performance against the Orioles was a train wreck. As Rosenthal reported last month, however, Chamberlain was dealing with some family issues late last season which Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski says contributed to his second half decline.

Columnist wants to take 190 home runs away from Alex Rodriguez

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Philip Hersh — an Olympics writer who hasn’t covered baseball in eons — has decided that today is the day to make a brave claim: someone should go back and take home runs away from Alex Rodriguez:

If baseball’s leaders were fully committed to anti-doping, there would be no way Rodriguez could get close to Bonds’ 762 (***) home runs, no matter how many more years the 39-year-old A-Rod plays.

Because baseball should wipe at least 190 home runs from Rodriguez’ current total of 654.

He wants to do this, see, because that’s the number of home runs A-Rod hit in seasons he has either admitted to or was caught using drugs. No word on why Hersh takes Rodriguez’s word for that here when he would almost certainly call A-Rod a pathological liar elsewhere, but let him go, he’s on a roll. Not as hot a roll as he was on a couple of years ago at Hall of Fame voting time, but it’s hard to beat one’s personal best.

This is obviously an idea designed to inspire a reaction, not one of any actual intellectual merit. If it was the latter, after all, Hersh would explain how to do this with other players like Barry Bonds, whose drug use has been documented but by no means specifically contained to a certain set of years. Or Willie Mays, for that matter, who took what are now classified as performance enhancing drugs. Or any number of other players. Maybe Hersh doesn’t have enough asterisks in his office to handle that part of the conversation.

In any event, we’ve covered this ground in the past. Here is why the whitewashing of baseball history is a bad idea. Here is why the hurt feelings of sports columnists are no basis to even consider trying to do so.

Now, be a good boy, Phillip, and go back and cover individual sports in which individual performances can and are routinely nullified immediately after the fact. We’ll wake you up next December when it’s time to go “stick it to the cheaters” with your Hall of Fame ballot again.

Diamondbacks minor leaguer suspended

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From the blotter:

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that Arizona Diamondbacks Minor League outfielder Matt Railey has received a 50-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Amphetamine, a stimulant in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

The suspension of Railey, who is currently on the roster of the rookie-level Missoula Osprey of the Pioneer League, will be effective at the start of the 2015 Pioneer League season.

Railey was the Dbacks’ third round pick last summer. He has 16 whole games of rookie ball under his belt. Not the best way to kick off a career, friend.

The Mets’ unofficial 2015 motto: “Take the damn thing”

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Team marketing departments often come up with slogans or mottos. Stuff like “Refuse to lose!” or “Won’t be denied!”

Haha, I’m joking. Those were mottos used by my high school’s basketball team in two of their record 16 seasons in which they won the West Virginia state championship (go Flying Eagles! Woo!).

The point being, often times, mottos and slogans are kind of silly. With that, here’s the shirts being issued to Mets players this season:

No word on what “the damn thing” is. The NL East? The wild card? The money and run? The long way home?

Oh well, whatever motivates you.

UPDATE: Resident Mets fan D.J. informs me that “the damn thing” refers to this. So it could be just, like, any game. That’s a better basis than a lot of mottos, I suppose: