This isn’t a full-blown Terry Collins situation — Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez didn’t offer a serious tirade or anything — but he made a point to voice his displeasure yesterday about two players who didn’t show up to spring training early: Jordan Schafer and Tyler Pastornicky. Dave O’Brein got Gonzalez’s joking-but-pointed comments:
“We’re waiting for [Pastornicky] again this year. Schafer probably has a tough time getting travel arrangements. He’s another one I’m going to grab. He only lives two exits up the road here; I haven’t seen him yet … I didn’t know he signed a deal with Frank – he’s got a five-year deal, guarantee to play one of the three outfield spots.”
Position player reporting day was not until today, but Gonzalez went on to say how he told them both that it would be in their best interests to show up early.
Which, yes, it probably would given that neither Schafer nor Pastornicky have secure jobs on the team. I presume that if you or I were in their situation we’d show up early too because we’re sensible folk who don’t like to leave that much to chance.
Still, the shop steward in me bristles when I hear managers going on like this. There’s a reporting date for a reason. If a guy shows up on time, he’s on time. Doing that bare minimum doesn’t make him a great worker. It doesn’t do him any favors. But I’d hope it would exempt him from public reprimand like this.
No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.
On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.
Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.