Big League Stew
- Israel Fehr at Big League Stew2 hrs ago
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There are two things that stand out about Mike Napoli: he's got a big beard and he's ridiculously strong.
The beard is always on display, so he showed off some of that stunning strength in the Red Sox's spring training game on Monday night against the Twins to remind us that he brings both style and substance.
Napoli hit a monster shot to left field in the fourth inning, which is impressive by itself, but what's even more spectacular is how he managed to muscle the ball over the wall given what happened to his bat. Check out the video: when Napoli finishes his swing, all that's left in his hand is the bat's handle.
We've seen broken-bat homers before, though this one might have them all beat. The barrel of the bat broke clean off and ended up near third base and Napoli still powered the ball into the seats.
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew5 hrs ago
The Cincinnati Reds announced a new ballpark feature Monday that any mother will love: A nursing suite where breast-feeding moms can retreat during a game for a more comfortable, more private moment with their child.
Phil Castellini, the Reds' chief operating officer, told ESPN that the club had an increasing number of women asking for a better place to nurse. Pro sports stadiums are loud, crowded and sometimes sticky — so finding a serene place is a bit of a challenge. As a father of five, Castellini knew this was a serious demand, so the Reds created something special at Great American Ball Park.
"It just didn't make sense that we would put a couple chairs in the women's bathrooms," Castellini told ESPN.
- Chris Cwik at Big League Stew6 hrs ago
The Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies nearly came to blows Monday. While no punches were thrown, two coaches were ejected after benches emptied during the fifth inning. All of this happened during a spring training game where the results don't matter.
The entire incident began during the previous inning. After a strikeout, infielder Sean Rodriguez began shouting at pitcher Kevin Slowey while walking toward the dugout. Rodriguez had called for time during the at-bat, but it was not granted by the home plate umpire. Slowey threw his pitch, and eventually wound up picking up a strikeout at the end of the at-bat.
Rodriguez continued yelling at Slowey at the start of the next inning, challenging him to a fight, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Slowey said he was surprised at the reaction.
- Chris Cwik at Big League Stew8 hrs ago
The Chicago Cubs made their decision Monday, sending uber-prospect Kris Bryant down to the minors. Bryant's possible demotion had become a major controversy this spring.
Members of the Cubs front office expressed that Bryant would likely need more seasoning in the minors. While Bryant's agent, Scott Boras, believed his performance, nine home runs over 40 spring at-bats, should have been enough to earn him a spot on the club.
Boras accused the club of sending Bryant down in order to manipulate his service time. If Bryant spends about two weeks in the minors this season, the Cubs will gain an extra year of control on Bryant once he's eligible to reach free agency.
With the move now finalized, the Major League Baseball Players Association weighed in on the situation.
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew8 hrs ago
With a week between them and opening day, the New York Mets pulled off two trades Monday that should strengthen their bullpen.
The club acquired Alex Torres from the San Diego Padres earlier in the day, then swung a deal to get Jerry Blevins from the Washington Nationals on Monday afternoon.
Both are left-handed relievers, a scarce quantity on the Mets roster before this. Sean Gilmartin, a Rule 5 draft pick from the Minnesota Twins, was the only lefty reliever still with the club at this juncture of spring training. Gilmartin is 24 and has never pitched in the big leagues. He had a 5.19 ERA in 10 Grapefruit League appearances.
The price for the Mets' late-March shopping spree? Matt dan Dekker, a backup outfielder, is going to the Nats, while pitching prospect Cory Mazzoni and a player to be named later are headed to the Padres. All in all, not too bad.
Just like that, #Mets looking at carrying not one, not two, but THREE lefties in their Opening Day bullpen: Blevins, Alex Torres, Gilmartin.
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew10 hrs ago
With opening day approaching, the Big League Stew crew is here to get you up to speed on the season ahead. We're examining each division over the next two weeks, looking at the big questions, the important players and making our predictions. Our series continues with the AL Central.
So many unknowns in the AL Central this year: Are the Detroit Tigers, the four-year reigning champs, still the power of the division? Will the Kansas City Royals, the wild card Cinderellas of last year, make a postseason run again? Can the Chicago White Sox, big movers and shakers in the offseason, challenge for the crown?
- Chris Cwik at Big League Stew11 hrs ago
After weeks of speculation, the Chicago Cubs have made their decision. The club sent down promising youngsters Kris Bryant and Javier Baez on Monday.
The 23-year-old Bryant wasn't expected to open the year in the majors, but put the Cubs in a difficult place by lighting up pitchers in the Cactus League. In 40 at-bats, he hit .425, with an astounding nine home runs, the most of any player this spring.
- Chris Cwik at Big League Stew12 hrs ago
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson probably isn't going to quit his day job. The 26-year-old already has a Super Bowl ring, and is set to receive a massive pay raise this offseason.
But, if he ever wanted a change, Wilson could turn to baseball. Wilson was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2010, but was acquired by the Texas Rangers in 2013. He's attended Rangers spring training in each of the past two seasons. Tim Brown profiled Wilson's most recent appearance at Rangers camp.
Turns out, Wilson has some skills on the diamond.
This is video of Russell Wilson's first homer in BP. pic.twitter.com/Z1VI31qdDE
Hey, that's not a bad swing!
- Chris Cwik at Big League Stew13 hrs ago
Due to social media, we live in a world where communicating with athletes and celebrities is nothing more than a click away. This can have mixed results. For every positive message a public figure receives, there's sure to be five more from internet trolls.
Jimmy Kimmel touched on this phenomenon with a series he calls "Mean Tweets." In these videos, celebrities will read the awful things people send to them on Twitter.
Not surprisingly, baseball players are an easy target for this type of thing. That led to the Indians posting their own version of "Mean Tweets."
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Kudos to the team for going all out here. You not only have current players poking fun at themselves, but the front office, coaching staff and production crew all get in on the act.
Scott Atchison's dad glasses are a clear highlight here. And the tweet about Nick Swisher getting a second opinion was actually pretty funny.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew1 day ago
Hoping to bring awareness to the conditions under which minor-league players work, and more specifically the wages they earn, which often falls below minimum wage, the United Food and Commercial Workers’ union and its allies are gathering at four different spring training games this weekend to show support and provide information to questioning fans.
According to Ted Berg of USA Today Sports, the union had scheduled rallies at games in Tampa and Lakeland, Fla. on Saturday and will be in Scottsdale and Surprise, Ariz. on Sunday.
Here are more details of the mission, courtesy of UFCW:
United Food and Commercial Workers’ union and allies will leaflet at four major league spring training games to raise awareness among fans about the plight of minor league players who often make less than minimum wage, are often not paid at all and are not paid federal overtime wages….