You’ve probably seen the stories suggesting that Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez “is unlikely to ever wear the pinstripes again” due to issues with his surgically-repaired hip or that he’s “scared and paranoid” about how people will react to the Biogenesis stuff. But it’s mostly garbage.
A-Rod said through a spokesman Thursday that he’s rehabbing diligently in New York and looking forward to returning to the Yankees around the middle of the 2013 season. Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger transcribed the short statement:
“Right now I’m dedicating 100% of my energy and focus on my rehabilitation. I am conducting two rehab sessions each and every day in an effort to get back on the field and rejoin my Yankees teammates. I think we have a great team and I want to be a part of it.”
The Yanks signed Kevin Youkilis to a one-year, $12 million free agent contract this offseason to fill in at the hot corner. Rodriguez, 37, batted .272/.353/.430 with 18 homers and 57 RBI in 122 games last summer. He is owed $28 million in 2013, $25 million in 2014, $21 million in 2015, $20 million in 2016 and $20 million in 2017.
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.