The Cardinals are number one at number one and number two

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Given a choice between covering a World Series in St. Louis vs. San Francisco, the selfish part of me is pulling for San Francisco because (a) I have a lot of friends there; and (b) it’s San Francisco.  But I’m not a fanatic about it, and my mind is open for persuasion on the matter.

For example, when the self-proclaimed urine and feces experts — really, the site is called “UFE: Urine and Feces Everywhere” — say that Busch Stadium fans demonstrate the best bathroom hygiene in all of baseball, well, that’s a definite plus in the Cardinals’ column:

What can you say about Busch Stadium when you consider that it was the only park in our survey to get an “A” rating? One hundred percent of the women wash their hands in the restroom, and the men are not too shabby when it comes to restroom hygiene, either. Busch Stadium is one of the few parks that the UFE (Urine Feces Everywhere) Team would feel comfortable shaking another fan’s hand.

In these rankings being number 30 — where the Cardinals are — is the best. Being number one is the worst (though maybe I’d invert it and number two).  Among the other playoff teams still standing — or, in some cases squatting — the Yankees are the worst at number 7, The Tigers are at number 20 and the Giants are at a quite respectable 23.

The worst in all of baseball: Wrigley Field. Though, in Cubs fans’ defense, it is almost certainly way less hygienic to actually touch the faucets in those nasty bathrooms than it is to bust out of there as quickly as possible hoping that you didn’t do anything too gross to yourself.

(thanks to Jonah Keri for bringing this loveliness to my attention)

Reds having Michael Lorenzen prepare as a two-way player

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For decades, a legitimate “two-way player” — a player who functions as both a pitcher and as a position player — was nothing but a fantasy. The skill sets required for both are too distinct and require too much prep work, it was thought. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani shattered that illusion in 2018, posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances as a hitter while posting a 3.31 ERA in 51 2/3 innings as a pitcher.

Since then, several more players have been considered in two-way roles. The Rangers signed Matt Davidson earlier this month and could potentially use him as a corner infielder as well as a reliever. Also earlier this month, James Loney signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters, who plan to use him as both a first baseman and as a pitcher.

You can add Michael Lorenzen of the Reds to that list. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that the Reds will have Lorenzen prepare this spring as a two-way player. He could both start and relieve while occasionally playing in the outfield. Lorenzen, in fact, took batting practice with the outfielders on Thursday. Previously, he had taken batting practice as extra work following a workout with fellow pitchers.

Lorenzen said, “It’s fantastic, the effort they’re putting in. A lot of the excuses were, ‘You know, we don’t want to overwork him.’ Well, let’s just sit down and talk about it then. They were willing to sit down and talk about it, which is one of the reasons why I love this staff so much and why I think the front office did a great job [hiring] this staff. They’re willing to find solutions for problems.”

New manager David Bell said, “We’ve put together a plan for the whole spring, knowing we can adjust it at any time. We didn’t want to go into each day not knowing what he’s going to do. We all felt better, he did, too. He was part of putting it together.”

Lorenzen, 27, pitched 81 innings last year with a 3.11 ERA and a 54/34 K/BB ratio. He’s one of baseball’s best-hitting pitchers as well. Last year, he swatted four homers and knocked in 10 runs in 34 trips to the plate. The last pitcher to hit at least four homers in a season was the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, who did it in both 2014 (four) and 2015 (five). Lorenzen also posted a 1.043 OPS. According to Baseball Reference, there have been only 11 pitchers to OPS over 1.000 (min. 30 PA). The only ones to do it in the 2000’s are Lorenzen last year, Micah Owings in 2007 (1.033) and Dontrelle Willis in 2011 (1.032).