Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez has been added as a guest on Monday’s edition of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. It will be, no doubt, appointment television as Martinez has shown himself to be quite the personality, even after retiring from baseball.
Martinez offered post-game analysis during the playoffs last season for TBS and has appeared on MLB Network as well. Memorably, he criticized Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley for his takeout slide that broke Ruben Tejada‘s leg during the NLCS last year. Martinez said, “That is something that is mind-boggling coming from a second baseman. It kind of bothers me to see that.”
Astros shortstop Carlos Correa has quickly become one of Major League Baseball’s select stars, winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award last season with a .279/.345/.512 triple-slash line, 22 home runs, 68 RBI, 52 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases after making his debut in June.
Correa had, to this point, not been involved in baseball’s ongoing culture war between old and young players, pitchers and hitters, white and non-white players. He penned a column for Sole Collector in which he says the sport of baseball is “stuck in the past”. He continues, “We’ve romanticized the game’s past so much that we’ve forgotten about its future.”
Perhaps most poignantly, Correa writes:
The past has been glorified so much that we resist any change at all for fear that it will degrade traditions but in doing so we have stopped the game from progressing forward. We are surprised and offended when we hear someone say the game is boring or dying, but we don’t take action to fix it.
Correa joins Bryce Harper in criticizing the culture of baseball. In an ESPN feature last month, Harper said, “Baseball is a tired sport because you can’t express yourself.”
As Correa noted, even commissioner Rob Manfred thinks bat flips — a common form of expression and flair among younger players — are “good for the game“. Now, we just need to make older players (mostly pitchers) stop throwing baseballs at hitters’ heads in retaliation for flipping a bat.
Defending National League MVP Bryce Harper didn’t need any time to warm up for the 2016 season. The Nationals’ outfielder homered in his first at-bat of the season during Monday’s game against Braves starter Julio Teheran. Anthony Rendon had been picked off prior to the home run, so the dinger only put the Nats up 1-0 in the first inning.
Harper, now 23 years old, led the National League in home runs last season with 42. It’s scary to think he could get even better.
Harper, by the way, also has four Opening Day home runs under his belt.
Athletics starter Sonny Gray has been scratched from Monday’s Opening Day start against the White Sox due to food poisoning, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Rich Hill will start in Gray’s place, Slusser adds.
It’s not the first time Gray has battled a stomach ailment. The right-hander missed a start last summer when he was hospitalized for a few days with gastroenteritis. Let’s hope that Gray’s current illness isn’t nearly as serious.
Hill, 36, put himself back on the radar with four starts for the Red Sox at the end of the 2015 regular season. The lefty yielded only five runs on 29 hits and five walks with 36 strikeouts over 29 innings. He’s no Sonny Gray, but he’s as capable as anyone else in the Athletics’ rotation to take the hill on Opening Day.
The Reds open up the 2016 season shortly against the Phillies, pitting starter Raisel Iglesias against Jeremy Hellickson. Iglesias getting the start is notable not just because he is Cuban-born, but because he will be only the fifth starter since 2000 to make an Opening Day start within his first 20 games, per MLB’s Stat of the Day account on Twitter. The others: Sonny Gray (2014), Stephen Strasburg (2012), Runelvys Hernandez (2003), and John Lackey (2003).
It’s also notable because Iglesias wasn’t the Reds’ first pick to start on Opening Day. It was supposed to be Anthony DeSclafani, but he suffered a strained oblique and had to be put on the disabled list. DeSclafani is not alone. Fellow starters Homer Bailey (Tommy John surgery), John Lamb (back surgery), Michael Lorenzen (elbow), and John Lamb (back surgery) will also start the season on the DL.
This is not to discredit Iglesias. He is arguably the most talented pitcher the Reds could’ve sent out on Opening Day. The right-hander, in 16 starts and two relief appearances last year, put up a 4.15 ERA with a 104/28 K/BB ratio over 95 1/3 innings. Iglesias particularly began to catch fire in the final two months, compiling a 3.13 ERA in nine starts between the beginning of August and his final start on September 13.