Craig Calcaterra

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Chipper Jones and his cat enjoyed the National Championship Game last night

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Chipper Jones in retirement: Hating Angel Hernandez, starting forest fires, having shade thrown his way by current Braves, saving stranded travelers and livetweeting the OSU-Oregon game last night via selfies:

Keep killing retirement, Chipper.

Daniel Nava may switch-off of switch-hitting

Daniel Nava AP
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This comes up from time to time for switch-hitters with extreme platoon splits. The Nats have considered asking Danny Espinsoa to stop switch-hitting.  Aaron Hicks did it. Shane Victorino. Even Chipper Jones gave it a moment’s thought when he had some power issues from one side in the middle of his career. It can be a touchy subject. But Daniel Nava and the Red Sox are considering it, and Nava seems OK with it. From Rob Bradford of WEEI:

“I have thought about it. Is it something I’m going to do? I don’t know. It’s a tough thing to do,” he said. “[Shane] Victorino did it a couple of years ago, just dropping it. It definitely runs through my head. It’s definitely something I’m considering doing, but at the same time it’s something I’ve never done. Would I even be effective lefty on lefty, or would it be better hitting against lefties from the right side. I would have to go out and give it a test run.”

Easier for Nava of course, as a guy who is fine facing righties as a lefty (he had a .372 OBP against righties last season). When a switch hitter has trouble with righties, however, not being a switch hitter can basically gobble up most of his playing time.

As it was, Nava hit .159/.209/.190 against lefties as a righty last season. And isn’t that much better as a righty in his career (.209/.287/.298). Nothing to lose by giving lefty vs. lefty a go now, right?

Cuban RHP Yoan Lopez signs with the Diamondbacks for $8.25 million

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Ben Badler of Baseball America reports that Cuban righthander Yoan Lopez has agreed to sign with the Diamondbacks for $8.25 million.

Badler says that Lopez, who is only 21, typically registers in low-90s, but that he has filled out some and his velocity has ticked higher at times. In Serie Nacional, Badler says that Lopez posted a 3.12 ERA with a 28-11 K-BB mark in 49 innings in seven starts. Read Badler’s whole scouting report here, including a video of Lopez’s fastball.

Badler thinks Lopez will begin in A-ball.

The Red Sox create a Department of Behavioral Health

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Alex Speier of the Boston Globe notes the announcement of a new position in the Red Sox’ front office. It belongs to one Dr. Richard Ginsburg, a sports psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is the head of the Sox’ new Department of Behavioral health:

The staff plans to place an emphasis on the emerging field of “mindfulness,” in which individuals consciously identify and take stock of the circumstances surrounding them to avoid getting overwhelmed or distracted. So, rather than getting distracted by a hostile crowd while batting in the ninth inning of a tie game, a player is trained through mindfulness to recognize that crowd prior to the at-bat and implement behaviors such as controlled breathing to manage his response to it.

The department will also oversee “Neuro-scouting,” which Speier explains in the article and which would be an excellent title for a movie about baseball set in a mildly dystopian future, perhaps starring Tom Cruise.

Seriously, though: any edge you can get, you take. Any tool you can give players to help them succeed, you give them. So good for the Red Sox for doing something new.

Now let us sit back and wait for the columnists and talk radio guys to make fun of this because, as we’ve seen so many times over the years, sports is the one area in life where innovation is typically seen as a bad or mock-worthy thing.

Pedro Alvarez is not at Pirates’ minicamp. He is not required to be. But maybe he should be?

Pedro Alvarez
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Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has a story about Pirates’ minicamp. And Pedro Alvarez’s absence therefrom. Which is totally cool per the collective bargaining agreement because Alvarez is on the 40-man and guys on the 40-man are not required to attend minicamps.

But Alvarez is also in a unique situation in which his ineptness at third base required him to move to first base last August, and a foot injury kept him from actually playing first base. Since the Pirates are expecting him to be their everyday first baseman this season, he could use all the time he can get to figure out the position. But GM Neal Huntington knows he can’t force Alvarez to come and get the extra work:

“We open the facility (because) we want as many guys as possible to come together and get ready to go because we’re not too far away from spring training,” Huntington said. “The union, obviously, has been very aggressive in (its) right to protect the players from having to work too hard in January and be under club control in January. We get that.

“Pedro had the complete option to come or not. We expect him to be ready to go on the first day of spring training and to get after it.”

I don’t think it’s crazy for those comments to be interpreted as “Jesus, we sure wish Pedro had his butt down here learning first base, but I suppose I can’t say that.” And man, I would love to hear Huntington’s off-the-record comments about all of that.

If I were Alvarez, I would first say “oh my God, how did I become Pedro Alvarez?!” But then I would probably say to myself “you know, it may be a good idea to be in minicamp, even if I don’t have to be.”