Fredi Gonzalez is not pleased with two players who didn’t report early

37 Comments

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.

Bryce Harper defeats Kyle Schwarber 19-18 to win the 2018 Home Run Derby

Rob Carr/Getty Images
10 Comments

Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.

Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.

Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.

As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.