Gregg Zaun to retire

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Spring Training is usually thought of as a time for renewal, but there are always a handful of downer stories too. I think “cool catcher like Gregg Zaun retiring” qualifies as a downer. Sportsnet Ontario:

Sportsnet has learned that San Diego Padres catcher Gregg Zaun is set to retire from Major League Baseball.

Zaun is expected to officially announce his retirement Monday.

The 39-year-old catcher played 1232 games in his Major League career, posting a career batting average of .252, with 88 home runs and 446 RBI.

That 39-year-old catcher actually turns 40 next month. And he missed most of last season following June shoulder surgery.  That said, if healthy and able, he stood to be a better option for the Padres than Nick Hundley did. It’s probably safe to assume, however, that at his age and with his shoulder, he was no longer healthy and able. And even if he was, he was obviously no longer willing.

It’s always amazing to me that, despite being the position in which guys take, by far, the biggest physical beating, if you have an old dude on your team, it’s more than likely that he’s a catcher. It speaks to the fact that catching is a place where fine-honed skills and brains count for hell of a lot.  Zaun certainly had both.

And of course, he also had Z-Game.

Fare thee well, Gregg.

Manny Machado homers in return to Camden Yards

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Padres third baseman made his much anticipated return to Camden Yards on Tuesday, his first appearance there as a visiting player after signing a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres in February. The Orioles’ faithful gave Machado a standing ovation as he came to the plate for his first at-bat. He would strike out looking.

In Machado’s next at-bat, he crushed a first-pitch Jimmy Yacabonis fastball out to left-center field for a solo homer, boosting the Padres’ lead to 5-1. It marked Machado’s 100th career homer at Camden Yards.

Machado now has 17 homers on the season along with 48 RBI, 47 runs scored, and a .279/.355/.503 triple-slash line.