Italian Sausage Wins, and other observations from Maryvale Park

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Like I said: they have a bit of Milwaukee here:

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It was a nice enough day, though a little sleepy. The Brewers have so many people away at the WBC that even their home lineup looked a lot like a road lineup for most spring training games. Something called Scooter Gennett led off. Because every single Brewers first baseman since Cecil Cooper is injured, Alex Gonzalez played first base — and made some sweet plays there. The always-intimidating Khris Davis hit cleanup. As I’m typing this it’s tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh. The most notable event involved an apparent injury to Dbacks’ leadoff hitter Tony Campana, who stole second base in the first inning and left the game when he was apparently spiked.

Beyond that: not the sort of game where you could tell anything about either team. It seems like we’re getting more of those as the WBC gears up and players are realizing that they still have over three weeks of spring training to get through. The initial enthusiasm has waned a bit.

But it’s still baseball. And in my last full day here tomorrow I plan to take in two more games. One as press, one as a fan. With the expected reports to follow.

OK, they just did the seventh inning stretch. Easily the most enthusiastic crowd participation since I’ve been here, followed by the de riguer “Beer Barrel Polka.”  So not everyone is flagging.


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Ketel Marte shut down with back injury

Ketel Marte
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With just over a week left in the regular season, the Diamondbacks have elected to shut down infielder/outfielder Ketel Marte. Marte has been dealing with some lower back inflammation and stiffness over the last few days; on Friday, the team revealed that he was diagnosed with a stress reaction as well.

It doesn’t look as though the injury will compromise Marte’s 2020 campaign, but as Craig noted on Wednesday, his absence will likely have some effect on his NL MVP candidacy. The 25-year-old will wrap his first All-Star season with a .329/.389/.592 batting line, 32 home runs, a .981 OPS, and a staggering, career-best 7.1 fWAR through 628 plate appearances.

Marte told reporters Thursday that the back pain had been an issue “for the past two months,” though he didn’t comment on the severity of the injury. Despite his ability to play through the pain since July, the issue has clearly escalated in the last week or so. Although the loss of their most valuable contributor may have a negative impact on the D-backs’ chances of competing in the postseason, it’s undeniably a wise move to let Marte recuperate rather than pushing him to play for another week and running the risk of further injury.

Entering Friday’s series against the Padres — their last road series of the regular season — Arizona still has a sizable gap to close in order to earn one of two NL wild card spots. They’re five games out of postseason contention, with the Nationals, Brewers, Cubs, Mets, and Phillies ahead of them.