In a previous post I somewhat poo-pooed early Spring Training games and I hold to the view that it is a a bit of a damp squib at first. We are rolling into the second week of March now though and Spring Training is just beginning to get into full swing. Some teams have played ten games, some hitters have reached 20 plate appearances and some pitchers have pitched six innings – yes, six whole innings!
OK so it is a bit early to draw any conclusions, and that itself assumes one can ever make meaningful conclusions from Spring Training games. Column inches apparently have to be filled though for the baying hordes of impatient and incident-starved fans, so we have had our fair share of non-stories over the last week or so.
Breaking stories have included the news that a Dodgers fan has named their dog after Clayton Kershaw, Hunter Pence was so tired after doing hot yoga that he drove into a parked car, and Noah Syndergaard will be an extra in the new season of Game of Thrones.
My personal highlights include the fan who tried to catch a home run but fell over…
and the Miguel Sano foul ball that landed in a bin…
Breaking news aside, there has been pretty decent baseball played in the last couple of weeks. The Yankees have been experimenting with Gary Sanchez as their no. 2 hitter, and he has been hitting well, slugging .800 with 2 HR and 6 RBI in just 15 at bats. The most impressive display of Yankees power hitting, though, was Aaron Judge hitting a huge blast off the scoreboard in a 9-4 win over the Phillies.
Joe Panik is looking to bounce back after an injury-hit season and has hit well so far with an OPS of 1.372 in his 13 plate appearances. Also with the Giants, Mark Melancon has been flawless in his three first outings in his new uniform, not allowing any of the 9 hitters he has faced to reach base.
Excitingly for me as a big fan of Bryce Harper was seeing the 2015 NL MVP crush two homers in his first 4 games. I’m hoping he can get back to his 2015 form this season after dipping somewhat in the power department last season. He certainly got off to a good start – blasting a huge homer in his first plate appearance of the spring.
The most intriguing game I’ve seen so far this spring was last night, with the Dodgers-Cubs facing off in a repeat of last year’s NLCS. Kenta Maeda was out-pitched by Kyle Hendricks over the the first two innings, giving up two runs before the bullpens took over, and the Cubs went on to win the game 9-3. I was impressed by Carl Edwards Jr and will be keeping an eye out for him this year after decent rookie season. Coming into pitch the seventh inning, he struck out all three batters he faced. Undoubtedly the highlight of the night though was Kris Bryant’s grand slam homer off Brock Stewart in the fourth inning.
We are getting closer to opening day!