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Carl Edwards Jr. admits to throwing at Austin Nola on purpose

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Cubs sluggers Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras were both hit by pitches during Tuesday afternoon’s Cactus League game against the Mariners. Bryant was hit by Nabil Crismatt in the bottom of the third inning and Contreras was hit by Wyatt Mills in the fifth.

Reliever Carl Edwards Jr. got the final out of the top of the fifth and came back out for the start of the sixth inning. He allowed a leadoff home run to Kyle Lewis, then got Tim Lopes to fly out, bringing up Austin Nola. Edwards hit Nola with a pitch and was promptly taken out of the game.

On Wednesday, Edwards admitted to defending his teammates by hitting Nola with a pitch. Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Edwards said, “Yeah, I did. It’s just, honestly, it’s like the nature of the game — spring training or not. It’s just you get to a point where you’re kind of tired of the guys getting hit. I mean, those are our big guys. That’s 25-man roster. Those are guys that are going to help us win championships, help us win ballgames. And, you know, all due respect, but it’s the nature of the game. And it just gets to a point where you just get tired, you know? Yes, it was Willy and a couple innings before it was KB.”

No other batters were hit in Tuesday’s game. Pitchers don’t often admit to intentionally throwing at batters because it easily turns into a fine and a suspension. We’ll have to see if Major League Baseball takes Edwards’ actions and admission seriously or looks the other way because it was just a spring training game.

The Mariners and Cubs, by the way, meet up in the regular season April 30 and May 1 in Seattle.

Straight-away center field will be 385 feet at London Stadium

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Marley Rivera of ESPN has a story about some of the on-field and in-game entertainment, as well as some aspects of the field conditions, for this weekend’s London Series.

The fun stuff: a mascot race, not unlike the Sausage Race at Miller Park or the President’s race at Nationals Park. The mascots for London: Winston Churchill, Freddie Mercury, Henry VIII and the Loch Ness Monster. I suppose that’s OK but, frankly, I’d go with Roger Bannister, Shakespeare, Charles Darwin and Guy Fawkes. Of course no one asks me these things.

There will also be a “Beat the Streak”-style race which had better use the theme to “Chariots of Fire” or else what the heck are we even doing here.

They’ve also taught ushers and various volunteers who will be on-site to sing “Take me out to the ballgame,” which is a pretty good idea given how important that is to baseball. As a cultural exchange, I think some major league team should start using “Vindaloo” by Fat Les during the seventh inning stretch here. It’s a banger. It also seems to capture England a bit more accurately than, say, “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown.”

That’s all good fun I suppose. But here’s some stuff that actually affects the game:

The end result will have some interesting dimensions. The field will be 330 feet down each foul line, and it will have a distance of 385 feet to center field, which will feature a 16-foot wall. Cook also said it would have an expanded, “Oakland-like” foul territory, referencing the Athletics’ Oakland Coliseum expanse.

Those dimensions are unavoidable given that the square peg that is a baseball field is being shoved into the round hole that is a soccer stadium. As Murray Cook, MLB’s senior field coordinator tells Rivera, that sort of thing, while perhaps less than ideal, is at least in keeping with baseball’s strong tradition of irregular field conditions. It will, however, be one of the shortest dead center distances in baseball history.

Oh, and then there’s this:

Protective netting was also an important issue addressed when building the ballpark, with Cook stressing that his team has implemented netting that “is the largest you’ll ever see in any major league ballpark.”

[Craig makes a mental note to bookmark this for the next time MLB says it won’t mandate extended netting in the U.S. because doing so is too difficult]