Opening day is just around the corner, so let’s take a look at what the boys have been doing lately. In no particular order…
Ian Kinsler took a bit of heat for comments he made during the WBC about the enthusiastic play of one of Team USA’s opponents, taking the tack, “That’s not how we play the game.” He has since apologized, or at least clarified his remarks. Kinsler, of course, got his team on the board with a two-run homer in the final against Puerto Rico. He was 0-3 in yesterday’s 4-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, his first game with the Tigers since the end of the tournament. Overall, he’s hitting .227 (5-22) with one home run this spring. But the fans still love him.
Unlike Kinsler, Houston Astros sophomore Alex Bregman didn’t see much playing time in the WBC. Of course, this came at the expense of getting ready for the regular season, but he has no regrets. He has appeared in just 10 spring training games, going 8-33 with two doubles and no RBIS.
Ryan Braun hasn’t appeared in too many games for the Milwaukee Brewers, just eight to be precise. Evidently it’s just not his thing. He has five hits in 20 at-bats but two have gone for home runs including one in yesterday’s loss to the Oakland As which accounted for his team’s sole run in the 11-1 debacle.
Ryan Lavarnway, perhaps the standout player for Team Israel in the WBC, is hoping to break camp as a member of the As. He’s 6-15 with two doubles in 11 games for Oakland this spring.
It looks like Danny Valencia has won the everyday first base position (at least for now) with the Seattle Mariners ,even though he’s batting just .214 in 19 games (one home run, three doubles, seven walks, six RBIs).
Kevin Pillar is having an excellent lead-up for the Blue Jays, hitting .340 (16-47) with six doubles and a triple. He’s also considered one of the top defensive stars for 2017, at least from one source, and is getting kudos for learning how to play the game smarter, even if it doesn’t always work out immediately.
Some Dodgers pundits expect Joc Pederson, now entering his third year with the team, to continue to improve. Although his batting average is a low .224, five of his 11 hits have gone for home runs. Those are his only extra base hits, however.
Ike Davis, also a member of Team Israel, is trying to latch on with the Dodgers as a back-up first baseman, but he’s not doing himself any favors with a .200 batting average (3-15) and one RBI. He turned 30 on the 22nd.
Craig Breslow may have won a spot with the Minnesota Twins: they recently added him to their 40-man roster. The 36-year-old lefty reliever appeared in 15 games for the Miami Marlins last season. They released him in July. He was picked up as a free agent by the Texas Rangers but never appeared in a game before they let him go in early August.
If Richard Bleier was hoping skipping the WBC would improve his chances of sticking with the Baltimore Orioles, he was wrong. The Os sent the righty reliever to their AAA affiliate in Norfolk last Wednesday. He threw seven innings in five appearances with an 0-1 record.
On the other hand, things seem to have worked out well for the Cincinnati Reds’ Scott Feldman, who basically had the same sentiment about the tournament. He made four starts, collecting 13 innings, and is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA. I don’t know what this says about the Reds’ rotation, but Feldman was given the honor of being their Opening Day starter. And returning to the National league means he gets to hit. His lone career home run came in Cincinnati’s home field, the Great American Ballpark.
Wish I had some good news to report about Jason Marquis and Sam Fuld, a couple of guys on Team Israel who haven’t been in the Major Leagues in awhile, but nothing on that front.