Craig Calcaterra

Victor Martinez

Victor Martinez thinks he’ll be ready for Opening Day

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Victor Martinez was expected to miss the beginning of the regular season due to surgery to repair the meniscus of his left knee. But he’s in Lakeland today and he tells the press that he thinks he’ll be good to go for Opening Day:

Martinez, entering the first year of a four-year, $68 million deal, hit .335/.407/.567 last year with 32 homers and 103 RBI. Having him healthy and productive in 2015 is essential for the Tigers’ playoff hopes.

Predictably, the Daily News mocks A-Rod for his performance in an intrasquad game

Alex Rodriguez
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I wrote this yesterday after the Yankees played an intrasquad game in which (a) a pitching machine was used instead of a real pitcher; and (b) Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-2:

In other news, in case my tone was unclear or misleading, this does not matter. At all. Regarding anything. Just remember that tomorrow when the usual New York suspects make a point to talk about A-Rod’s o-fer.

I figured that talk would come in a snarky aside about the Yankees. Nope, it got the whole back page:

Points for the pun — New York tabloid puns are usually pretty funny, actually — but hoo-boy for making a big deal out of this. Or, at the very least for making a selective big deal out of this. Chris Young struck out against the machine. No one in that Yankees lineup yesterday, that I am aware of, hit for the cycle or anything.

In other news the New York Daily News is gonna be really sad when they don’t have A-Rod to kick around anymore. I sorta worry about them, actually.

 

Matt Harvey to make his regular season debut on April 9

Matt Harvey
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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
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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
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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.