Getting under Donald Trump’s skin is about as difficult as finding a rush hour traffic jam on the Long Island Expressway. That doesn’t make The Donald’s published threats against the owners of the Cubs any less odious. And they have nothing to do with whether the Cubs might upend the Mets in a postseason series to which each team has an excellent chance (so far) of going this year.
Jonathan Papelbon struggles with at least two things off the mound, apparently. He isn’t as good as he thinks with public apologies, and he’s no historian of Washington baseball. He showed both when he faced the press at the Nationals’ Space Coast Stadium spring digs and owned up over trying to choke Bryce Harper in the dugout on last September’s Fan Appreciation Day.
It may have been nothing compared to the Nats themselves showing how out of touch with things like reality they may well be.
Some other people to watch closely, very closely, as spring training begins rounding into serious shape:
THE BARD OF PITTSBURGH—Daniel Bard was one of baseball’s best pen men with the 2009-11 Red Sox. Then Terry Francona quit before he could be canned, Bobby Valentine was brought in to man the bridge, Bard was turned into a starting pitcher—and became a mess of his own in the middle of the Valentine nightmare. He signed a minor league deal with the 2014 Cubs and never got out of extended spring training. He signed with the 2014 Rangers and disappeared again. He’s signed a minor league deal with this year’s Pirates. The hope is that Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage—who’s repaired such fractured pitchers as Francisco Liriano, J.A. Happ, and Edinson Volquez—can repair the Bard.
Spring approaches; well, spring training, anyway. And while several players remain unsigned, with teams standing to lose draft picks by signing them and having to decide which ones are worth those losses, here are some things to watch regarding each club this season:
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS—The good news: Splashing big with Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller. The bad news: It may have cost them dearly to do it. They may be in play this year but despite their good-looking farm system contending this year may cost them for a year or two to follow.
In the nebulous world of actual or alleged performance-enhancing substances, Jenrry Mejia is going where no man has gone before. And it’s entirely possible that his edginess over being injured yet again sent him there.
Not Barry Bonds. Not Mark McGwire. Not Alex Rodriguez. Not Roger Clemens. Not any of the men heretofore linked to any extent with actual or alleged PEDs. None of them received a permanent banishment from baseball for testing positive three times for a steroid. Mejia has.
You can all relax. For now. The National League adopting the designated hitter is mere speculation. For now. Even Commissioner Rob Manfred, a man who seems decisive one moment and hesitant the next, particularly on very serious issues, says the “most likely result on the designated hitter for the foreseeable future is the status quo.” For now.