The long wait is over baseball fans. Spring training action kicked off in full force this past weekend and not a moment too soon.
Fans from all over the country flocked to the warmth of Arizona and Florida to catch the start of camp. The rest of us stayed glued to the television and began speculating about the meaning behind these exhibition games. Whatever your reason for watching, hardcore baseball junkies and casual fans can agree that the crack of the bat sounds so good after a long winter.
The Game Haus is committed to ensuring fans don’t miss any of the key storylines taking place this camp. The Prickly Grapefruit series will provide a weekly recap of the action surrounding the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues this preseason.
An Apple a Day
Take a multivitamin, do some stretching, rub a lucky rabbits foot, whatever it takes to stay off that disabled list. It never fails that players find new ways to injure themselves prior to the regular season and this season is no different.
Award for most innovative goes to Royals pitcher Brian Flynn, who is nursing broken ribs after falling through the roof of his barn. Fortunately, he is only projected to be out eight weeks. Michael Bourn suffered a broken finger playing catch with a football, further demonstrating the difficulty of being a multi-sport athlete.
On the less dramatic side, Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis is dealing with rotator cuff soreness and is sidelined for approximately five days. The Mets’ injury woes continue as first baseman Lucas Duda appears unready with continued hip soreness. Finally, Mets’ catcher Kevin Plawecki is undergoing X-Rays after a collision at the plate in Saturday’s game against the Nationals.
Bryce is Back
Bryce Harper wasted no time silencing critics of 2016 campaign by smashing a home run in his first at-bat Saturday. The 2012 NL Rookie of the Year and 2015 NL MVP had difficulty in 2016, batting an uncharacteristic .243 for the season. A mix of rumors stemming from a mental block caused by Joe Maddon’s Walk-A-Thon last May to playing hurt have all been attributed to the poor performance.
Whatever the reason, it clearly hasn’t diminished his ability to hit the long ball. One year it’s Trout vs. Harper as the best young player in the MLB. The next it’s wondering if Harper will ever be the same. Both sides of the spectrum are undoubtedly overreactions, but regardless Harper has all the tools to reestablish himself as one of the top players in baseball.
Alright so perhaps an invite to minor league camp doesn’t exactly qualify as “mania” in the world of baseball. That said, it doesn’t take away from the intrigue surrounding a former Heisman winner attempting to crack the big leagues. Never mind the fact he’s trying to do it at 29 years of age after essentially a decade away from the game.
Regardless of opinions of the topic, Tebow will receive highly coveted spring plate appearances for the Mets organization. So far those Minor’s attempts have equated to a .194 average in 70 plate appearances.
These early numbers haven’t dissuaded New York as they maintain plans to utilize Tebow in Grapefruit league action. From an overall impact standpoint, this is likely a non-story, but Tebow’s progress will be fun to keep an eye on this preseason.