Scenes from Spring Training: Alas, the games are a letdown

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The nice weather of spring training is intoxicating. Sunrise at an empty ballpark is electrifying. Watching the ballplayers getting ready and running through drills is beyond cool. And then, just as you’re totally stoked, when the grills are sizzling and fans are settling in for the first pitch … you get a rather crappy game.

Hey, that’s the nature of the beast, especially on Day freakin’ One of the spring training schedule. If you come expecting crisp baseball you’re nuts. You just need to remember that bad baseball is better than good almost anything else and go with it.

So I went with it today, ignoring the fact that Tim Lincecum couldn’t get anyone out and that the defense was so bad that they didn’t have the error column lit up on the scoreboard. As I type this, it’s the top of the 8th inning and the Giants lead the Dbacks 7-4 in what has been a less than wonderful ballgame. But to dwell on that stuff would be to miss the point.

And the point is that baseball is almost back. That even if your weather sucks right now, you’ll be able to lounge in the warm spring air like these people sooner than you think.  That even if a nice hot stew sounds best tonight, you’ll be jonesin’ for this kind of thing in no time.  That you’ll soon be able to walk around looking like an utter fool in love with baseball. Wait, don’t do that. That’s just wrong.

It’s getting closer, my friends.

Pirates activate Starling Marte

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Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is back in the lineup after the team reinstated him from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday. Marte served the bare minimum on the DL after making a rapid recovery from the right oblique strain that sidelined him several weeks ago.

Prior to landing on the disabled list, the 29-year-old outfielder was off to a strong start. He slashed a robust .308/.366/.503 with six home runs, 10 stolen bases and an .869 OPS in 175 plate appearances with the team. This is the first time he’s dealt with an oblique issue, and the first DL stint he’s served since he suffered a bout of back tightness in 2016. While he has yet to prove he can bounce back to his pre-injury production levels, his quick recovery bodes well for a successful return to major-league play.

In a corresponding move, outfielder Jose Osuna was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. The move came as somewhat of a surprise, given that the Pirates elected to retain top prospect outfielder Austin Meadows rather than the more established Osuna. Meadows was recalled from Triple-A in the wake of Marte’s injury and has only played seven games at the major league level so far, but he’s already made a strong impression: he went 13-for-29 with three home runs, two stolen bases and five RBI since his call-up on May 18.