Last year Ike Davis was reported to have valley fever, a fungal infection which sapped his strength and led to him having a horrific start to the season. Of course he downplayed it all. His quote from last March:
“It’s been the same,” said Davis. “Seriously. I feel great. And I don’t have any symptoms of it. I’m not coughing. I’m not throwing up blood. I’m not doing anything. It’s not even hard to breathe. The doctor said I could play, and just don’t get really, really fatigued. So that’s what we’re doing. And if I get really tired, I kind of just step to the side and take a break … I don’t think I have an extreme case.”
Flash forward to today and he’s telling a different story. From Adam Rubin, who Davis now tells he was exhausted all the time last spring:
“I had to limit a lot of things last year as far as workload,” Davis said. “I didn’t have a beer all of spring training last year. I went home and laid on the couch. And I usually fish for another six hours every day [after Mets workouts] … I didn’t say anything to anybody, besides maybe the trainers.”
Guess that teaches us not to take players’ claims about their health at face value.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.