Spring training has begun!
Pitchers and catchers reported for duty on Thursday, marking the preliminary phase of spring training. In a few days, the rest of the players will arrive. For the Washington Nationals, there remains some question about the catcher's position. Wilson Ramos had an off year, and his backup Jose Lobaton wasn't that effective either. The Nats' starting rotation looks fine:
- Max Scherzer
- Stephen Strasburg
- Gio Gonzalez
- Tanner Roark
- Joe Ross
It's the final year of Gio Gonzalez's contract, so as with Ian Desmond last year, the pressure will be on the perform. Hopefully, the Nats' new manager Dusty Baker will provide just the right amount of positive motivation. Another big uncertainty is whether the new relief pitcher acquisitions will constitute a solid bullpen. Speaking of which,
Papelbon says he's sorry
In a session with reporters, Nationals closing pitcher Jonathan Papelbon apologized for the infamous incident in which he lunged at Bryce Harper's throat near the end of the 2015 season. See MLB.com. Well, that's a start. Maybe if he backs that up with a sincere and contrite attitude, showing that he's a team player, everyone will forgive and forget. It looks like the Nats are stuck with him for this year, so let's just hope that he performs at the level of effectiveness that was expected of him.
College baseball has begun!
Outside there are still piles of snow melting away, and there is one more month of winter left to endure, but as far as college baseball goes, spring is here! Last year's college baseball national champion Virginia Cavaliers played their first game on Friday, beating Kent State by a score of 8-6. It was the first of a three-game weekend series played at Pelicans Ballpark in Myrtle Beach, S.C. On Saturday they beat Appalachian State 8-0, and today they somehow lost to Coastal Carolina, 5-4. The Cavaliers' home opener at Davenport Field in Charlottesville will be this Tuesday at 3:00, facing the Virginia Military Institute.
New infield at Rogers Centre
Mike Zurawski informs me that workers are busy tearing out the concrete floor in preparation for a new infield at Rogers Centre. As of Opening Day, the home of the Blue Jays will feature a complete dirt cutout infield, as is the case at Tropicana Field. (That's the only other MLB stadium that still has artificial turf.) If you've been hoping for a real grass field in Toronto, you're going to have to wait a couple more years, at least. See thestar.com and bluejaysmessageboard.com. What I'd like to know is, when are they going to get rid of that stupid reddish carpet that serves as a "warning track"? It would be nice to have a real dirt/sand/cinder material surrounding the field.
So, I revised the basic ("exposed") diagram on the Rogers Centre page, and added a new 1989 diagram, without the extra rows of box seats which were installed in 2000. For the time being, I'm leaving all the other Rogers Centre diagrams the same, with the old infield configuration. While I was at it, I added a new normal-sized "grand view" photo, since the existing "grand view" photo is one of those super-sized panoramas.
[UPDATE: I forgot to mention that I updated the (Artificial) Turf page, highlighting the changed artificial turf layout at Rogers Centre this year.]
In my attempts to reconcile Baker Bowl dimension data with my diagrams, I had to rely upon my Outfield trigonometry page. In the process, I realized that it did not include foul line distances of less than 290 feet, so I added four rows going down to 270 feet. I also realized that I had made a computational error in two of the columns, so I made the necessary corrections.
I need to update the text on the Baker Bowl page* more thoroughly, but for now suffice it to say that the true center field distance during the last 15 or so years was about 397 feet, not 408 or 412 feet. Those numbers probably referred to the most distant corner, to the left of straightaway center field. I will explain all this in greater detail on that page in due course.
* NOTE: I forgot to include the warning tracks when I first posted those diagrams yesterday, so I did that today, and made a couple other minor corrections.