Craig Calcaterra

Matt Harvey

Matt Harvey to make his regular season debut on April 9


Kevin Kernan of the New York Daily News reports that Matt Harvey is likely to make his regular season debut on April 9 in Washington against the Nationals. That’s the Mets’ third game of the season.

Obviously that all assumes that Harvey’s spring goes well. As reported the other day, Harvey will make his spring game debut on Friday.

Harvey’s workload is expected to be closely monitored and somewhat limited in his first season back from Tommy John surgery, but it will be done in a less heavy-handed fashion than, say, Stephen Strasburg’s work was limited a couple of years ago. Rather than a hard cutoff, the Mets plan to skip starts and limit innings in specific starts so that he can be available all season long and, if necessary, the playoffs.

Harvey, 25, owns a 2.39 ERA and 261/57 K/BB ratio in 237 2/3 innings over his first 36 starts in the majors.

Baseball media is rooted in public relations just as much as it is rooted in news

press hat

Ever notice that the folks who cover sports full time are often a bit late to get on to stories that are bad for the sports they cover?

That, sure, once someone breaks something negative there is a big pile-on, but (a) why is it that a person who lives and breathes the sport every day tends not to be the one breaking it; and (b) where were the guys who cover this sport day-in, day-out when that negative thing was there, just waiting to be talked about? Think PEDs, business issues in which players were taken advantage of by ownership, racial strife, the plight of minor leaguers and the like.

Today, over at The Hardball Times, Jack Moore takes a look at the history of baseball reporting and illustrates how the symbiotic relationship between sports media and the teams and leagues they cover has, historically, worked against negative news — or, sometimes, even perspective-providing news — from being broken by the very people who are closest to the game:

The baseball reporter’s job doesn’t and couldn’t exist without the access granted by owners and executives. The owners and executives, naturally, expect something in return: free advertising and publicity, putting baseball into the minds of readers and viewers, ideally in a way that paints the league in a positive light.

Over the generations, the role of the sportswriter has evolved. Although sports remains the journalistic “toy department,” some writers have shirked the PR role to become valuable reporters and great storytellers. But today’s sports journalism grew from the seed of Lewis Meacham and the rest of the baseball writers whose job it was to, as Connie Mack put it, “make us ‘news.’”

It’s a good read that explains an awful lot about how most of the baseball news we all consume is filtered through some pretty specific 150-year-old lenses, the sorts of which most readers — and, I bet, most of the actual current reporters — don’t often realize.

Russell Martin made a point to emulate Derek Jeter . . . and Joey Votto

Russell Martin

It’s not a terrible surprise to read a story about a former Yankees player who learned some lessons from Derek Jeter while they were teammates. Blue Jays’ catcher Russell Martin certainly did, he tells the New York Times. Specifically, the idea of having a regular routine and the notion that, in the middle of the game, you always have to have the attitude that the pitcher you’re facing can’t get you out.

But he also decided, at some point while playing in Pittsburgh, to emulate Joey Votto:

Early last season, during a game against Cincinnati, Martin watched from his crouch as Reds first baseman Joey Votto exasperated the Pirates by fouling off one good pitch after another.

As annoyed as Martin was, he figured that if Votto could do it, so could he. (You might say that was the Jeter in him.) He went back to the Pirates’ bench and declared, “I’m going to do the Joey Votto.”

What Martin meant by that was fighting off pitches he didn’t want and waiting for his pitch. It’s an approach Martin credits for raising his average and his on-base percentage even if it has cost him some power.

Which is pretty hilarious, actually. Talk to your average Marty Brennaman-listening Reds fan and they’ll tell you that’s an awful, awful thing to do. Funny, then, that major league hitters think it’s a pretty spiffy approach.

But I suppose old Marty and Brian from Deerfield Township know better.

Curt Schilling lowers the boom on some men tweeting threats against his daughter

Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling wrote a proud papa tweet about his daughter being accepted to college and getting to continue to play softball, which she’s played for years. Anyone who is a parent — or anyone who had great, proud parents — have had or have been the recipient of those sorts of feelings before and can certainly relate.

Sadly, a few sick idiots decided it was somehow appropriate to respond with awful, violent and sexually-explicit tweets about Schilling’s daughter. Rape threats and the like. So Schilling took to his blog to call such crap behavior out. And not just to complain, but to identify the jerks saying such things and to display their tweets.

His efforts had results: one of the guys tweeting rape threats and other awful things was fired from a part time job he had as a ticket seller for the Yankees. Another one now has local police investigating his tweets to see if a crime occurred.

I can’t say that I blame Schilling at all. I wish he didn’t have to do this, but given how horrible Twitter is at policing threats of violence against women, he probably did. Lucky for him and his daughter his platform and profile is such that his speaking out like this got some results. Most people aren’t so lucky.

All of that aside, I have no idea what the hell is wrong with people.

Josh Reddick gave up his number to Billy Butler for an X-Box

Oakland Athletics v Toronto Blue Jays

John Hickey of the Mercury-News reports that Josh Reddick gave up his number 16 to Billy Butler when Country Breakfast signed with the A’s. The price? Not high: “For Reddick, giving up 16 wasn’t a major hardship, particularly since he got a new X-Box from Butler out of it as a token of appreciation.”

John Lackey gave Pat Neshek an autographed Babe Ruth ball when he was traded to the Cardinals last year. A.J. Burnett started a college fund for Daniel McCutchen’s kid in exchange for a number. Julio Borbon once gave Adrian Beltre his number for an expensive watch. Jim Thome gave Alexi Casilla a Rolex. My favorite of all time — which I mention whenever this comes up — was former Giants punter Jeff Feagles who got Plaxico Burress to pay for an outdoor kitchen at his vacation home in Phoenix in exchange for number 17 and — before that — got Eli Manning to send the Feagles’ family on a vacation to Florida in order to give up number 10.

So, in the grand scheme: an X-Box seems a bit . . . light.

I feel like the price was low, though, thanks to some psychology on Butler’s part. Read in the article how he talked about how it was such a duty — he even calls it an “unwritten rule” — for a player to give up his number to a guy with more service time. Which may very well be true, but the way in which Butler talks up that proposition for the article — like it’s a law — makes me wonder if Butler put that pitch to Reddick too. You know, to lean on him some.

And maybe he sold Reddick some undercoating too. Great deal on that undercoating.