Shocker: New York writer says ballplayer won't hack it in New York

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I really can’t stand stuff like this blog post from Jeff Pearlman, in which he opines that Lance Berkman won’t be able to hack it in New York. The argument basically boils down to this: Berkman is a great clubhouse guy and a total pro, but he’s a “country dude” who is “an off-the-charts right-winger,” so he’s just not meant for New York.

Never mind that Andy Pettitte is an evangelical conservative from Louisiana.  Never mind that Nick Swisher grew up in West Virginia. Never mind that one way you can arguably describe the history of baseball is “farm boys come to the big city and lead the team to victory.” We’ll always have, it seems, some New York writer saying that so-and-so doesn’t have what it takes to play in New York.  If Pearlman was writing in the early 50s he’d probably say that some rube from Commerce, Oklahoma could never make it in the Big Apple.

Players have come to New York and failed. Lance Berkman may fail. Some even failed because New York truly got to them.  But to simply assume that a veteran like Berkman who has played all over the country and in the World Series is going to whimper and die when he sees those tall buildings, can’t find grits anywhere and has to pass by godless liberals on the streets is about the weakest sauce out there.

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.