Craig Calcaterra

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jeremy Hellickson throws in the bullpen during a spring training baseball workout Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, in Clearwater, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Associated Press

Jeremy Hellickson is the Phillies’ Opening Day stater

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The Phillies have named Jeremy Hellickson their Opening Day starter.

Hellickson signed with the Phillies in November. He was 9-12 with a 4.62 ERA with the Diamondbacks last year but came on better later, posting a 4.17 ERA and averaging 7.8 K/9 IP in his final 20 starts. He’s improved his groundball rates a bit, but he’s still dinger-prone.

The Phillies start the year in Cincinnati, which is one of the most homer-friendly parks in the league, though their lineup is not all that production-friendly, so I suppose it’s as good a start for Hellickson as any.

The Rays were stuck on the tarmac in Cuba for seven hours

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The Rays-Cuba National Team game ended around 5pm yesterday. It’s about an hour flight from Havana to Tampa. The Rays didn’t get home until 5AM this morning.

Why? Their charter plane had a mechanical problem which needed a part that was not available in Havana so they had to wait for a second plane to be flown in. The charter carrier was Eastern Airlines, so apparently the part was being flown in from 1983 (my fellow olds will get that one).

Anyway, the social media hashtag that the Rays had been using for the trip was #RaysInCuba. While stuck on the tarmac, Chris Archer altered it a bit:

The Rays play the Twins in Fort Myers in less than an hour. My guess is that the road squad is going to consist of a LOT of non-roster dudes. If they get fined for that, they can send the bill to Eastern Airlines.

Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon respond to Donald Trump

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Yesterday Donald Trump was quoted saying that the Ricketts family had done a “rotten” job running the Cubs. Or, at the very least, that he might run ads saying that they did. So either he believes that the well-run, lucrative, talented, 97-win Cubs team has been run in “rotten” fashion or else he knows better and simply doesn’t care if facts get in the way of whatever he feels like yelling about.

Hmm. Donald Trump do that? Impossible!

Anyway, you shouldn’t be surprised that some Cubs folks responded to The Donald. From the Tribune:

“I have no comment on that,” Epstein said with a grin and a sigh. “I think that speaks for itself, as does our season last year and the turnaround of the franchise.”

The article notes that Theo rolled his eyes when he said that. I’m assuming Epstein doesn’t care much for Trump, but after having to respond to such matters to the media, he may be on board with Trump’s desire to throw the press into jail or whatever it is he’s stumping for.

Joe Maddon too:

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was equal parts amused and muted, though he added that he has voted and has been very entertained this political season “to the point where I prefer watching FOX and CNN over ESPN any day of the week.”

“Wow, I don’t want to get in a battle with Mr. Trump,” Maddon said. “I have no idea what this is all about. … Maybe Mr. Trump didn’t follow the season last year. I have no idea.”

The second paragraph is sensible. The comment about preferring Fox or CNN over ESPN: maybe crazier than anything Trump has ever said.

Just a week and a half until actual baseball, everyone!