Nick Punto has agreed to a one-year deal with the A’s, according to Jane Lee of MLB.com.
Lee reports that the contract also includes an option for 2015, so the 36-year-old might stick around in Oakland for a couple seasons.
Punto has played for four teams in the past four seasons, hitting .247 with a .658 OPS in 354 games over that span. Good plate discipline keeps him from being a total non-factor offensively and Punto remains a standout defensive infielder into his mid-30s. Toss in switch-hitting, good speed, and a reputation for being a plus in the clubhouse and he’s an ideal utility man.
UPDATE: Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that Punto will get $2.75 million for 2014 and has a $2.75 million vesting option or a $250,000 buyout for 2015, so it’s officially a one-year, $3 million deal.
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.