Scenes from Spring Training: Yu Darvish Mania

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I’m not gonna say that there’s a lot of interest in Yu Darvish’s first start, but the Padres’ PR staff has roped off 100 seats in a section along the third base line as an auxiliary media section.  Yeah, this is not your usual Wednesday morning in the Cactus League.

I got here super early and made my way to the press box to find that every single seat had a name tag on it already, with seats reserved for everyone from Ken Rosenthal on down to the weekend sports reporter of KBFE radio from East Nowhere, Texas. Add to that the usual huge contingent from the Japanese media and we’re talking a really full house.

Indeed, and this is not a joke, here is where I set up in the press box when I got here:

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A few minutes later someone from the Padres’ PR staff upgraded me from the folding tray to a folding table. Which they didn’t have to do given that I’m basically squatting, but these guys are really awesome. No joke: other major league PR staffs can take a cue or two from the Padres’ people, because they are on point today.

After I got sorted, I headed over to the Padres’ facility. Because the Peoria Sports Complex is one of those new mega-facilities housing two teams (the Mariners train here too), it was a long walk, But it’s a beautiful morning here. Crisp, a little on the cool side for Arizona, but perfect for anyone who hails from normal climes. I don’t mean to brag about how awesome my job is all the time because I know that can be annoying, but sometimes I have to pinch myself when I realize that I’m getting paid to smell the freshly-cut grass, listen to bats cracking from distant batting cages and take in perfect desert-in-winter weather. It’s beyond words.

When I got to the Padres’ place, I checked out the bulletin board. The lineup was up. As I wrote it down, a man sidled up next to me and said “skip made out a pretty good lineup today, eh?”  I was about to agree when I turned and saw that it was Bud Black who said it. What a jokester. For the record, the lineup facing Darvish today will be Cameron Maybin, Orlando Hudson, Jesus Guzman, Carlos Quentin, Will Venable, Mark Kotsay, James Darnell, John Baker and Everth Cabrera. Not quite an Opening Day lineup, but not bad either.

I made my way over to Orlando Hudson’s locker. He was friendly and accommodating like most veterans are. I was kind of worried that the Padres players would get sick of all of the questions about Darvish, but if Hudson was annoyed he didn’t show it. He said that he was interested in seeing Darvish up close — he has really only seen his World Baseball Classic action — but that it wasn’t that big a deal. It’s still so early in spring training that he’s just trying to get his timing right and all of that, so it really doesn’t matter who he’s facing. Makes sense. I suppose the Darvish stuff is more interesting for the media than it is for those guys.

As for Darvish himself: he won’t be here for another hour and a half or so. When he does get here, he’ll look up and see this, however:

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Yep: wind blowing out hard. Since I took that picture it has shifted towards right field a bit, but it’s still blowing out strong. I wish Yonder Alonso or some other real lefty power was in the lineup today.  Wind-aided or not, if Darvish gets taken deep a few times I imagine there would be a full-on media meltdown, and that would be great fun.

I’ll be checking in later with reports of how the most anticipated two innings in recent spring training history go.

Something big could be brewing between the Yankees, Mets and Marlins

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Last night we heard the beginning of rumblings of a possible three-team trade involving the Yankees, Mets and Marlins that could involve J.T. Realmuto and Noah Syndergaard. Those rumblings — while still off in the distance — are getting a bit louder this morning, with reports floating that the Marlins are driving it and that it’s not just wishcasting from New York.

Into that mix comes something interesting: Ken Rosenthal reports that the Yankees are open to moving third baseman Miguel Andujar and that he’s “a name to watch.”

Coming as it does after that Yankees-Mets-Marlins chatter might mean that Andujar could be involved in all of that and, if he is, that could make for a monster deal.  Such a blockbuster would certainly be a good enough reason to part with Andujar despite a strong rookie season in which he hit.297/.328/.527 with 27 homers and 92 RBI. Worth noting that moving him could also open up third base for a big acquisition like Manny Machado, but that’s separate speculation, I suppose.

Not that any of this would be that easy, of course, especially if it involved the Mets. The Mets and Yankees rarely make trades with one another, and if they were to do one, it’d have to be something that the Mets could claim, convincingly, that they won lest they get raked over the tabloid coals. That being said, the Marlins reportedly want an established major leaguer in any deal for Realmuto and the Mets reportedly want more than just Realmuto if they were to give up Syndergaard. As such, Andujar could fit into that in any number of ways.

There’s obviously there’s a long way to go on this sort of thing, but the names floating around talks with the Yankees, Mets and Marlins are quite interesting and could suggest something big is brewing.