Frank Francisco arrived at camp with some inflammation following December surgery to remove a bone spur from his throwing elbow, but he managed to resume throwing earlier this week. Relievers generally don’t need much time to get tuned up for the season, but Mets manager Terry Collins isn’t counting on him.
According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, Collins said on WFAN yesterday that he’s moving forward as if Bobby Parnell will be the closer.
“I don’t think Frankie’s going to be ready for Opening Day, so it’ll be Bobby [Parnell],” Terry Collins told WFAN about the closer’s role. “And you know what? He can take that job and run with it.”
Francisco was awful in the closer role last season, posting a 5.53 ERA over 48 appearances, so it’s possible Collins would opt for Parnell even if he was 100 percent. The 33-year-old right-hander is owed $6.5 million in 2013 in the final year of his contract.
As for Parnell, he’s plenty worthy of the opportunity, even though he has struggled in previous opportunities as closer. The 28-year-old right-hander had an excellent 2.49 ERA and 61/20 K/BB ratio over 68 2/3 innings last season and has become a more effective pitcher since he implemented a knuckle-curve to complement his electric fastball.
The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.
Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.
There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.
That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.
The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.
One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.
Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.