With the rain and gloom I decided to go downtown and see if I could fake my way in to the noon WBC game — Canada vs. Italy — without paying. I can’t just flash my credential because WBC credentialing is different than spring training credentialing and I missed that train a few weeks ago. Not that I’d prefer the press box. To be honest, I’d rather just hit the stands.
I got to Chase Field and the credential worked for parking — free spot in the media lot for the next 12 hours or so, babies — but it didn’t work at the gate. I suppose if I called some folks I could get some, but given that it’s only $15 general admission for this early game and given that I’m truly not going to cover it like a reporter I’d feel weird about it. I got a get-me-in ticket, camped out in a hotel lobby and I’m going to head into the park here in about a half hour for Canada-Italy. After that it’s USA-Mexico.
I may or may not have in-game posts here (depends on how well the internet works in the ballpark), but follow me on Twitter for in-game snark. I’ll have a big “my day at the WBC” post tomorrow or — depending on how ugly my night is and how bad my travel is tomorrow — on Monday.
Now, all I need to do is to figure out if I should by some Mexico merch for my anti-U.S. heel-turn before tonight’s game. Thoughts?
The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.
Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.
Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.