Author: D.J. Short

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and former President Bush

Rob Manfred chats baseball with former President George W. Bush


New MLB commissioner Rob Manfred chatted with former President George W. Bush at the Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas last night and addressed a number of topics regarding the state of baseball.

Bush hosted Manfred in advance of a new exhibit at the presidential library. “Baseball: America’s Presidents, America’s Pastime” opens to the public today and will examine baseball’s relationship with America’s presidents.

Bush, who once owned the Texas Rangers, asked Manfred about instant replay, pace of play, the chances of expansion in Mexico City, and whether he would vote someone who used steroids into the Hall of Fame. Interestingly, Manfred said the only autographed baseball he owns is from Bush, who signed it after he threw out the first pitch before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series.

My favorite exchange might have been this below, via Richard Justice of

Bush asked if Manfred had always been a baseball fan.

“I grew up a Yankee fan,” Manfred said.

When the crowd booed, Bush said, “Good, Rob. Welcome to Texas anyway.”

The conversation was about 45 minutes, but here’s a quick clip below. You can see more at

Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez could be cleared for game action on Sunday

Detroit Tigers v Seattle Mariners

UPDATE: According to Chris Iott of, Cabrera and Martinez will actually get some at-bats in minor league games today. They will lead off five straight innings to get their at-bats in, but they won’t run the bases.

10:59 a.m. ET: Great news here for the Tigers, as Chris Iott of reports that there’s a chance that both Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez will be ready for game action on Sunday.

The final test for Cabrera and Martinez will be running the bases today, but they could be cleared assuming all goes well. The Tigers have split-squad games tomorrow, which would allow them to have both players serve as the designated hitter. They could also have them play in minor league games before advancing to Grapefruit League action. We should have some clarity on the plan later today.

Cabrera underwent surgery last October to remove bone spurs from his right ankle and repair a stress fracture in his foot. Meanwhile, Martinez is working his way back from February surgery to repair torn meniscus in his left knee. Opening Day is still within reach for both of them.

Daniel Murphy shut down for a week with a hamstring injury

Daniel Murphy

Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy is suddenly at risk for beginning the season on the disabled list, as Marc Carig of Newsday reports that he has been shut down for the next week due to a right hamstring injury.

Murphy left Thursday’s Grapefruit League game after singling and scoring on a sacrifice fly in the first inning. An MRI confirmed the injury. The start of the season is a little over two weeks away, so he could be cutting it close.

Dilson Herrera was already optioned to the minors earlier this week, so he’s not a consideration for fill in for Murphy at this time. Instead, the Mets are giving Matt Reynolds and Daniel Muno looks at second base.

Murphy, who turns 30 in April, batted .289/.332/.403 with nine home runs, 57 RBI, and 13 stolen bases across 143 games last season.

Video: Alex Rodriguez hits his second home run of the spring

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez hit his second home run of the spring yesterday, an opposite-field shot against Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon. Check it out below:

The Yankees team Twitter account was mysteriously silent after A-Rod’s first spring home run, but they were quick to acknowledge it this time around. I knew those two crazy kids would eventually get back together:

Rodriguez is batting .269/.367/.538 across 30 plate appearances in Grapefruit League action.

2015 Preview: San Francisco Giants

Madison Bumgarner ,Buster Posey

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

The Big Question: Will they do it again?

The Giants came roaring out of the gate last season and looked like one of the best teams in the majors early on, but they stumbled through the middle of the year before playing better in August and September (and getting some help from the collapsing Brewers) to secure a Wild Card spot with 88 wins. Of course, we all know what happened after that. They beat the Pirates in the Wild Card game before upsetting the Nationals in the NLDS and the Cardinals in the NLCS. On the strength of one of the best individual postseason performances of all-time from Madison Bumgarner, the Giants beat the Royals for their third World Series title in the past five years.

“Will they do it again?” is the operative question for any defending World Series champion. The Giants have looked like a mess in spring training, but I’m not going to dismiss them outright because 2015 is an odd-numbered year. It’s cute to joke about it, but there’s no such thing as an odd-year jinx because jinxes aren’t real. We’re all adults here. We can admit it, right? However, I will say that the path back to October has its share of challenges.

After fan favorite Pablo Sandoval signed a five-year, $95 million contract with the Red Sox, many wondered if the Giants would use the cost savings to make a big splash in free agency. It didn’t happen. They re-signed Jake Peavy, Ryan Vogelsong, and Sergio Romo while adding Nori Aoki to their outfield, but that was about it. Chase Headley was briefly mentioned as a possible alternative to Sandoval, but the Giants ultimately acquired Casey McGehee from the Marlins. Not the most exciting offseason, but Brian Sabean has a knack for keeping the band together and winning the offseason isn’t everything.

I can spend a lot time talking about the greatness of Bumgarner and Buster Posey here — and man, are they are great — but what the Giants get from some key rebound candidates will likely tell the tale about where this team goes. Matt Cain didn’t pitch after July 9 last season due to an elbow injury which eventually required surgery. He also had ankle surgery in September. The 30-year-old owns a 4.06 ERA over his last 45 starts dating back to the start of 2013? Can he revert to his old form? Angel Pagan was a key to the team’s World Series run in 2012, but he has been limited to just 167 games over the past two seasons and is coming off back surgery. He’s currently shut down with more back discomfort. Can the Giants count on him at this point? Brandon Belt might be a better bet than those first two. The 26-year-old had some tough luck on the injury front last year, as a fractured thumb and concussion issues limited him to just 61 games, but he has looked great this spring and should produce if healthy. His best baseball is likely still ahead of him. The Giants don’t have a lot of pop, so it would be helpful if 2015 is that year.

What else is going on?

  • The rotation has a bunch of questions even beyond Cain. The workload for Bumgarner last year (270 innings between the regular season and playoffs) can’t be ignored altogether. Tim Hudson is 39 and is coming off surgery in January to remove bone spurs from his right ankle. Peavy has avoided arm problems for the past three years and should benefit with a full year in a pitcher-friendly ballpark in the NL, but he’s going into his age-34 season and has a major injury in his past. Tim Lincecum is getting another shot in the starting rotation despite a 4.76 ERA (73 ERA+) over the past three seasons.
  • If things don’t work out with Lincecum (and it’s hard to believe it will, as fun as a sudden revival would be), Yusmeiro Petit is someone to keep an eye on. With his lights-out curveball, the 30-year-old compiled a 3.69 ERA with an excellent 133/22 K/BB ratio in 117 innings across 12 starts and 27 relief appearances last season. He’ll likely begin 2015 in Bruce Bochy’s consistently-excellent bullpen along with the likes of Vogelsong, Jean Machi, Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt, Romo, and Santiago Casilla, but he deserves a long look in that rotation. I’m guessing he’ll get it one way or the other.
  • Hunter Pence has been one of the game’s most durable players since entering the league, but he suffered a freak injury earlier this month when he was hit by a pitch and suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left forearm. He’s likely to miss most or all of April. We should see a lot of Gregor Blanco in the meantime and potentially guys like Travis Ishikawa, Justin Maxwell, and Juan Perez too, especially if Pagan’s back keeps acting up. It’s only a month, but Pence’s production will be missed in this lineup.
  • Hey, remember when the Giants had Dan Uggla play a handful of games at second base last season? That was fun. Fortunately, rookie Joe Panik eventually emerged and proved to be a solid contributor down the stretch and had some big moments during the postseason. What does the 24-year-old have in store for his first full season in the majors? There’s still some question about how much he’ll hit, but between him and Brandon Crawford, it looks like the Giants might not have to worry about their middle infield for a while.

Prediction: There are definitely ways I can see this working out, but I have too many doubts about the rotation and I don’t think there’s enough power in this lineup. It’s going to be close with the Padres and the numerous other teams in the Wild Card race, but I’m going with…Third place, NL West.