Is the Yankees third base job Kelly Johnson’s to lose?

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Could be. He’s certainly a strong candidate, as Bryan Hoch of MLB.com explains in his latest. Hoch notes that Johnson didn’t play third base in the bigs until last year, but he did play a little in the minors — and a lot of shortstop in the minors — so it’s not totally foreign ground. And, of course, he’s been all over the field in the past and has never really embarrassed himself anywhere.

The key, though, is his bat, as that’s probably the best shot he has at distinguishing himself from his competition in Yankees camp this spring. He has some plate discipline issues, but he does have a bit of pop. He’s a .253/.335/.427 career hitter at the major league level and he averages 19 homers per 162 games. Scott Sizemore is something of a wild card, but Johnson is better than Eduardo Nunez.

In any event, it should be an interesting competition.

 

 

 

Astros greeted with boos in first spring training game

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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.

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