Link-O-Rama: Sore shoulder scratches Mazzaro

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* A’s rookie Vin Mazzaro has been scratched from tonight’s scheduled start with shoulder tendinitis and Clayton Mortensen will be called up from Triple-A to take his place against the Mariners. “He’s had a little soreness in his arm and he hasn’t bounced back from start to start as much as we would have liked,” manager Bob Geren said.
Mazzaro got off to a great start in his first taste of the big leagues, but has mostly struggled with a 4-9 record, 5.32 ERA, and .319 opponents’ batting average in 17 outings. Between the majors and Triple-A he’s thrown 148 innings as a 22-year-old, so even if the shoulder problems prove minor the A’s might as well just shut him down for the season.
* Remember the Cardinals fan who fell out of the stands and faceplanted onto the field in Pittsburgh, only to be helped by Albert Pujols? Todd C. Frankel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote a very well-done article about what turned out to be a pretty amazing story.
* Giants prospects David Mixon, Ryan Shaver, and Rafael Cova combined on a no-hitter yesterday at Single-A, which is particularly impressive in the notoriously hitter-friendly California League.
* At least the Nationals can say they won something this season after their rookie-ball team took home the Gulf Coast League championship yesterday.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.