The Astros are supremely good at losing. They took the Nationals to the 12th inning last night, when they went down 3-2. Then, they put two on base, and Brett Wallace drilled one to deep center. It had all the look of a walk-off double, but Nationals’ center fielder Roger Bernadina made an incredible catch, leaping and crashing into the wall. It takes skill to place the ball so perfectly.
- Arodys Vizcaino, the Cubs’ main prize from this trade season, is recovering from Spring Tommy John surgery, and he joined the Cubs in San Diego to meet with the training staff about that recovery, including the plan going forward. He’s currently rehabbing in Mesa, and is already throwing on flat ground. Moreover, he is expecting to be ready to pitch in Spring Training next year. The time table for Tommy John recovery can be a fairly wide range, but it is generally getting shorter and shorter – 12 months isn’t out of the question. That said, expecting a major contribution from Vizcaino in 2013 would be a mistake. Although guys are often able to pitch a year after surgery, they usually don’t return to pre-surgery effectiveness for two or more years. Further, Vizcaino has had a history of other, more minor arm troubles. Given that the Cubs’ interests are more in the long-term future, they aren’t going to push Vizcaino next year unless he’s tearing it up. I’d expect him to start the year in the minors, and perhaps stay there for most of the season. Anything the Cubs get from him at the big league level next year is just gravy.
- Dale Sveum on Brooks Raley (pre-start): “[The coaches] liked what they saw [in Spring Training]. He was a guy who had a lot of poise, could manufacture four pitches, five pitches — a four seamer, two-seamer, cutter, curveball and changeup. His changeup is probably his best pitch — an above average changeup. He’s a great athlete, can handle the bat, run really well. He can make things happen because of his athleticism.” Raley is expected to get at least a couple more starts with the Cubs.
- Sveum has been doing his best to keep a young roster thinking positively, telling them not to be afraid to fail, and to just play the game hard. What else can you say, right? This is a learning experience, and a time for evaluation. It’s not fun to keep watching the Cubs lose, but winning today’s game is not the priority.
- Bryan LaHair clearly isn’t thrilled about his new bench role, but it’s not like he’s asking for a trade or anything. ‘‘It’s nothing positive,’’ LaHair said. ‘‘There’s nothing positive about a manager telling you your playing time for the next two months is very limited …. But I have a role now, and I’ll just accept that role and try to do the best I can …. I want to be a Cub. And just because I’m not an every-day player today doesn’t mean I won’t be tomorrow. I’m sure I’m going to get another opportunity. A lot of things happen in baseball.’’
- Tom Ricketts is on his annual tour of the minor league teams, and yesterday took in the Daytona Cubs’ game. He sat for a brief interview, too, with the Daytona Beach News-Journal. On the direction of the organization: “I think one of the things I’ve been most impressed with by [team president] Theo [Epstein] is he brought in a lot of other guys to round out [baseball operations]. They’ve been working very, very hard. They are information junkies. They make good decisions based upon all the inputs that they can get their hands on. And I just know that over time, you give these guys enough time and resources, and they’ll get the Cubs to where they have to be to challenge for that title every year.”
- BN’er (and photographer) Andrew Phares snapped some great pictures of Brett Jackson’s debut in Los Angeles, which you can see on the BN Facebook page. My favorite is easily the one where Jackson walks off the field with the Dodgers celebrating their walk-off win in the background. So much message there.
- It’s official: Rock Shoulders has the best name in the minor leagues. We already knew it to be true, but it’s nice to have confirmation.
- The MLBullets at BCB look at the issue of moving in stadium fences to increase offense. It “worked” for the Mets this year, so the Padres and Marlins are considering the same.