Obama to throw out first pitch in Washington

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President Barack Obama will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Nationals-Phillies game on Opening Day in Washington and commissioner Bud Selig will also be in attendance at Nationals Park.
Obama probably won’t be wearing Nationals gear, however, because he previously threw out the first pitch to catcher Albert Pujols at last season’s All-Star game in St. Louis while wearing a White Sox jacket. This time he’ll be throwing to Ivan Rodriguez.
Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com notes that “it will be the 48th time the president has thrown out the first pitch on Opening Day in Washington and it comes 100 years after President Taft started the tradition on April 14, 1910.”
In far less positive “guys who take the mound in Washington” news, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that Livan Hernandez will be the Nationals’ fourth starter. Hernandez signed a minor-league contract last month that pays $900,000 if he makes the team, but he’s 35 years old and has ERAs of 5.44, 6.04, 4.93, and 4.83 during the past four seasons.
The Nationals might be better off just sticking POTUS in the rotation.

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.