Real or not? Early exit, blister bring Shohei Ohtani back to earth


Maybe we needed to slow down. Shohei Ohtani was making the game look a little too easy, and it most certainly is not easy.

In his third major league start, Ohtani scuffled with his fastball, couldn’t throw strikes with his off-speed stuff and then left after two innings and 66 pitches because of a blister. Obviously, depending on when the blister developed,reebok nfl jerseys it might have affected his performance. Keep in mind that Ohtani is adapting to a different baseball — the major league ball is slicker and smoother, while the Japanese ball has higher seams. That said, it was a rough outing and a reminder that while we saw peak Ohtani on April 8 against the A’s, he’s still a 23-year-old who might not be quite a finished product on the mound.

Of course, the Red Sox also present a different challenge than the Athletics, Ohtani’s opponent in his first two starts. The A’s are more of a three-true-outcomes kind of team — walks, strikeouts and home runs — the kind of lineup you can exploit when things are working. The Red Sox will battle more to put the ball in play and maybe do a better job of controlling the strike zone if you’re not throwing strikes. Indeed, Ohtani’s 66 pitches were the second-highest in the first two innings of a game this season, with the highest count also coming against the Red Sox.

One takeaway from this game is more of a long-term outlook for the Angels and how Mike Scioscia ultimately handles his six-man rotation, a group that is already down JC Ramirez for the season and has lost Matt Shoemaker to a current DL stint. Assuming the blister isn’t an issue, wouldn’t it be tempting to bring Ohtani back sooner than next Monday or Tuesday, given that he threw just 66 pitches? Same thing goes for Garrett Richards if he has a low-pitch game. That’s aside from the temptation to start using the Angels’ best pitchers more often if the American League West turns into a tight two-team race.212

Ohtani’s poor outing came as we released our annual ranking of MLB’s top players. I was one of the voters in the project, and it was almost impossible to rank Ohtani because he had made just two starts and was off to a hot start at the plate. nfl authentic jerseys cheap He ended up No. 52 on the list, though I had him higher. This start was a reminder that the baseball season is a long journey of highs and lows. For Ohtani, I still believe there will be a lot more highs than games such as this one.

P.S. With three three-homer games in his Red Sox career, Betts has tied Ted Williams for most three-homer games in Red Sox history. The Red Sox are also 14-2.

Baseball’s best double-play combinations have a clear No. 1


Even now, official nfl jerseys cheap in an era of ongoing league-wide change, it remains vitally important to have a strong middle infield.

Yes, shifts and other adjustments in defensive positioning have reduced the need for exceptional range. Yes, strikeouts continue to rise higher than ever, reducing the number of balls in play. Yes, batters are placing greater emphasis on lifting the ball, reducing overall chances in the infield. And yes, we’ve seen that second basemen and shortstops are getting far less action than they used to.

The game of baseball is in transition. That much is no secret. Yet the middle infield positions remain at a premium. Shortstop, especially, is still far harder to play than first or third base. There are fewer players available who can play regularly in the middle, so teams that are strong there have a distinct advantage over their rivals.

It’s worth considering, then, which teams appear to be strongest at the two positions — that is, reebok nfl jerseys the two positions together, taking everything into account. This isn’t just offense, and this isn’t just defense. I have chosen what I think are 2018’s five best double-play combos.

Alex Cobb’s debut turns into disappointment (O’s lose 10-3)

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 14: Alex Cobb #17 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches during the first inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox on April 14, 2018 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) BOSTON, MA - APRIL 14: Alex Cobb #17 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches during the first inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox on April 14, 2018 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Alex Cobb can’t be judged on one start. Signing him as a free agent can’t be deemed a colossal failure after one inning. The same patience required to prepare him for today’s debut with the Orioles is needed to grade him.

He didn’t pass today. nfl jerseys from china There will be plenty of other tests.

The first four Red Sox batters reached against Cobb this afternoon and he allowed three runs and threw 28 pitches before retreating to the visiting dugout. The storms forecast for the next two days arrived early without the precipitation.

Cobb lasted only 3 2/3 innings and was charged with seven earned runs (eight total) and 10 hits while the Orioles fell behind the Red Sox 8-0 at Fenway Park.

Pedro álvarez’s two-run homer off Hector Velázquez with two outs in the fifth reduced the lead to 8-2.

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 14: Alex Cobb #17 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches during the first inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox on April 14, 2018 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

BOSTON, MA – APRIL 14: Alex Cobb #17 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches during the first inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox on April 14, 2018 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Hanley Ramirez and J.D. Martinez homered off Cobb, who allowed his most runs since giving up eight to the Astros over three innings on July 31, 2017 while pitching for the Rays. He made only seven more starts due to a toe injury that forced him on the disabled list.

The Orioles didn’t sign Cobb until March 21 and they chose a deliberate pace for his arrival, with simulated and extended spring training games sprinkled among bullpen sessions. They got him up to six innings and 93 pitches.

Getting him through the first today was a challenge.

Mookie Betts drew a six-pitch walk to lead off the inning and he scored official nfl jerseys cheap on Andrew Benintendi’s double off the Green Monster. Benintendi moved to third on Manny Machado’s error on the relay throw and he trotted home on Ramirez’s shot over the famed wall.

Martinez singled before Cobb finally registered his first outs of the day on a 4-3 double play grounder from Rafael Devers. Jackie Bradley Jr. singled to center field, a line drive up the middle that forced Cobb to duck while raising his glove, and Sandy Leon flied out on the next pitch.

Orioles activate Cobb, place Schoop on DL with oblique injury


In their 14th game of the season, the Orioles finally get Alex Cobb into the starting rotation. The biggest free agent pitching acquisition of the non-season came nfl wholesale jerseys late enough into spring training that there was still a need for Cobb to get himself all the way into game shape as the regular season started. Now he’s ready, and after the Chris Tillman disaster last night, the Orioles need him.

To make room for Cobb on the active roster, the Orioles needed to remove someone for the time being. That’s turned out to be second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who exited Friday night’s loss after feeling what was at the time just called a “twinge” while striking out swinging in the seventh inning. All the post-game words about getting him out as a precaution to keep it from getting worse aren’t keeping him from the disabled list.163

The specific injury is to his right oblique, and after getting MRI results about that oblique, the Orioles chose to put Schoop on the DL. How long Schoop is expected to miss is not immediately clear, and the track record of the Orioles first estimates for missed time due to injury is not the greatest anyway, so it could be longer than whatever they say.

What’s certain for now is that there will be at least ten days with an infield alignment different than you probably spent spring training contemplating. Saturday’s lineup has Tim Beckham at second base, with Danny Valencia at third base and utility man Engelb Vielma still on the bench.

Can the O’s ride out a week and a half with an alignment like that? Maybe. If it ends up stretching on to a month, like the oblique injury suffered by Chris Davis last June,nfl jerseys from china they may need to think about other arrangements. Though Schoop has only been batting .230/.266/.344 to start the season, his bat will still be missed in the lineup, especially if his replacement most nights is the light-hitting Vielma.

If you want to look at the silver lining, the Orioles don’t have to deplete the bullpen in order to activate Cobb. I know, it’s not much of a silver lining.

Tigers pitcher Jordan Zimmermann hit in face, has bruised jaw


Detroit Tigers pitcher Jordan Zimmermann was official nfl jerseys cheap taken to the hospital with a bruised jaw after he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis on Wednesday.

The Tigers said Zimmermann passed concussion protocol tests and was being taken for X-rays.

Making his third start of the season, Zimmermann retired Francisco Lindor on a fly ball starting the game. The 31-year-old right-hander had little time to react to Kipnis’ liner on a 2-2 pitch.

“It was terrifying and it made a terrible sound,” Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Your heart drops. When you go out there you never know what you’re going to see.”

Zimmermann sat up and spoke to Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire, then walked off the field while holding a towel to his face.

The ball rolled to first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who stepped on first for the out. An obviously distraught Kipnis crossed the bag and knelt on the first base line as Zimmermann was examined.

An obviously distraught Kipnis crossed the bag and knelt on the first base line as Zimmermann was examined. Several Tigers’ position players also knelt and the crowd of 10,872 went silent.

“You never want that,” Kipnis said. “Everyone’s out there competing. It was a scary moment, tough guy just to walk off like that. He’s got a strong jaw.”

Zimmermann, who passed the concussion protocol tests, reebok nfl jerseys has evidence of that. He had his jaw broken on a line drive while pitching in college. Doctors inserted 11 screws and several plates.

“I felt it,” Zimmermann said. “I went down and just felt all my teeth were there, and my jaw wasn’t peeled in like the first time it happened. So I think I got lucky. The first time I broke it back in college, they put a couple plates in there and the doc told me you’ll never break it again. Put it to the test tonight and everything came back just fine.”

While the rest of MLB goes young, the Giants are doubling down on players in their 30s


The San Francisco Giants sold out 530 straight games before their streak ended in July, and they feel obliged to put a competitive product on the field for all those die-hard ticket holders by the jerseys from china Even in rough years, the Giants are committed to staying the course rather than selling off big-name assets, punting on contention and pacifying the fan base with prospects and sumptuous garlic fries at AT&T Park.

That approach failed to yield positive results in 2017, when the Giants finished last in the National League West for the first time since 2007. But the players who form the nucleus of the lineup and the heartbeat of the clubhouse are grateful for the opportunity to stay together and have a crack at redemption.

“I’m very happy to be a part of an organization that is doing that,” catcher Buster Posey said. “I thought about it when the Rays [designated] Corey Dickerson [for assignment] after he hit 27 homers. I’m glad I didn’t get drafted by the Rays.”

Posey, Hunter Pence, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt will all be 30 or older this season, and they have dealt with the inevitable speculation about a lost step here or declining bat speed there.

Rather than bringing in an injection of youth to change the mix, the Giants are doubling down on the whole “veteran presence” narrative this spring.

San Francisco’s two big offseason acquisitions provided hope and consolation for veteran players who feel unwanted in the current climate. Shortly before Christmas, the Giants acquired third baseman Evan Longoria from Tampa Bay for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and minor league pitchers Matt Krook and Stephen Woods. In January, they added Andrew McCutchen from Pittsburgh for pitcher Kyle Crick, minor league outfielder Bryan Reynolds and $500,000 in international bonus pool money.

As a tandem, Longoria and McCutchen have a combined eight All-Star appearances, a Rookie of the Year award, an MVP award, official nfl jerseys cheap five Silver Sluggers and four Gold Gloves on their résumés. At 32 and 31, respectively, they’re also older than Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and some other players who caused such a frenzy on the winter trade market.

Cubs keep faith in Yu Darvish after a disappointing debut


Unfair as it is to question a pitcher after only one start, critics of Chicago Cubs righty Yu Darvish will point to his World Series performance — new nfl jerseys 2013 combined with his season debut for his new team on Saturday — and declare he wasn’t worth the $126 million the team will pay him over the next six years.

Darvish wasn’t able to complete five innings against the lowly Miami Marlins on a night when the Cubs desperately needed innings out of him after losing a 17-inning affair the night before. Instead, according to ESPN Stats & Information, Darvish threw at least 100 pitches without finishing five innings for only the second time in his career.

“A lot of pitches for 4.1 innings,” manager Joe Maddon said after the Cubs’ 10-6 win in 10 innings. “Overall, he just didn’t have his best stuff tonight.”

Darvish gave up five runs and five hits, two walks and two hit batters. The best strikeout pitcher per nine innings in baseball history didn’t whiff a Marlin until the pitcher came to bat in the third inning. The problem was simple: He had no command of his fastball.

“It seems like every time I pitched the first game in Japan things went not so well,” Darvish said through his interpreter. “I don’t know why that happened. … It could have been a location problem with my pitches. I don’t think I was able to command whatever I wanted to, in terms of fastball.”

Darvish indicated it was the same in Texas, where he compiled a 3.65 ERA in his first starts of a season, slightly higher than his career mark. He also had great stuff in his warm-up in the bullpen Saturday, according to those that saw it.

So maybe he had some first-game jitters once he took the mound, which isn’t unheard of — even for elite arms in the game. But combined with his World Series performance last fall, he has now given up 13 runs in his past 7? innings pitched. Just as it might be unfair to judge a pitcher after one game, it’s just as unfair to judge him with five months in between.

It won’t matter to some. Darvish is going to have to shed the reputation of an underachiever. It’s not that he has had a bad career — it’s that his stuff screams he should be better.

None of that mattered Saturday because Darvish had nowhere near his best stuff. To wit: Miami hitters were 3-for-9 in at-bats that ended on his fastball while he new nike nfl jerseys generated only one swing-and-miss out of 22 swings on that pitch. That tied for the fewest swings-and-misses on his fastball since the beginning of last season, while the 4.5 percent miss rate was the second lowest for him over the past two seasons. Bottom line: His fastball was a mess.

Yuli Gurriel’s rehab from hand surgery ‘going better than expected’


After several days of soft-toss batting practice sessions, Gurriel was scheduled to swing against a pitching machine Sunday.

“These next two days of hitting off the high-velocity machine nfl jersey wholesale will be a big test for him because that’s where the resistance will increase and so will his speed,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said.

The 33-year-old Gurriel underwent surgery to remove the hook of the hamate bone in his left hand on Feb. 28.

Gurriel will remain in West Palm Beach when the rest of his Astros teammates break camp on Sunday. If he continues to progress, he could see time in minor league games in the coming days before rejoining the major league club.

“It’s the decision of the front office, but I feel pretty good, and the doctors have said my recuperation is going better than expected,” Gurriel said.

The World Series champion Astros open the season Thursday at Texas.

“We take a lot of pride in the way we play,” shortstop Carlos Correa said. “When we go out there, we try to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s a spring training game or a regular-season game. We go out there and try to perform to the best of our abilities, and the outcome of that is going to be winning ballgames.”

Houston doesn’t have to officially announce its major league roster until Thursday,best nfl jerseys but the Astros effectively did so over the weekend by optioning Tony Kemp and Tyler White to the minor leagues and telling J.D. Davis that he will be a member of the Opening Day roster.

Dusty Baker back with Giants as special adviser to CEO


Sixteen years after they let him go as manager, Dusty Baker has rejoined the San Francisco Giants and will serve as a special adviser to CEO Larry Baer, the team announced Monday.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dusty back to the organization,” Baer said in a statement. “In addition to being one of the most beloved Giants alumni, Dusty brings a wealth of expertise, knowledge and experience to this position and I know his contributions nfl authentic jerseys cheap will be felt far and wide throughout our organization.”

Baker will work with Baer in both the baseball and business operations of the club.

Baker managed the Giants from 1993-2002, when the club lost to the wild-card Angels in Game 7 of the World Series after squandering Game 6. His son, Darren, is a freshman baseball player at the University of California in Berkeley and Baker has been a regular at his games.

“He’s a friend and manager who can add to what we’re hoping to do, and that’s get better here with new ideas, or talking to the guys,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said before an exhibition game against the Athletics. “With Dusty, he’s a guy that I’ve always revered and respected. We’ve managed against each other now for more than 20 years. He lives in Sacramento, so he’ll be close. I had a chance to talk to him a little bit today. He did a lot here for the San Francisco Giants and I’m glad to see Dusty back here and helping. We welcome him with open arms and look forward to talking to him during the season.”

After a contentious departure from the Giants, Baker went on to manage the Cubs for four seasons before a stint with the Reds from 2008-13 and then two years as Nationals skipper leading Washington to a pair of NL East titles.

Baker’s contract was not renewed after 10 seasons with the Giants despite guiding the team to its first World Series in 13 jersey wholesale Baker became the first manager in nearly three decades to leave a team right after reaching the World Series.

He and former owner Peter Magowan feuded, and the tension simmered all that season. Baker was credited by many observers for his ability to handle a difficult clubhouse that included feuding stars Barry Bonds — who went on to become the home run king — and Jeff Kent.

Jose Altuve finalizes 7-year, $163.5M deal with Astros

The 27-year-old second baseman had been among baseball’s best bargains. He agreed in 2013 to a deal that originally guaranteed $12.5 million from 2014 to 2017 and included club options for 2018 at $6 million and 2019 at $6.5 million.

His new deal keeps those salaries and adds a $21 million signing bonus,cheap nfl football jersey of which $1 million is payable upon the deal’s approval by the commissioner’s office and $10 million each on July 1 in 2018 and 2019. He gets annual salaries of $26 million from 2020 to 2024.105

“This a very important day for me,” he said. “It was a priority because that way it doesn’t take attention from the season.”

Altuve would have been eligible for free agency after the 2019 season. The 5-foot-6 Altuve hit .346 last season to win his second straight AL batting title and third in four seasons. He had 24 homers, 82 RBIs and 32 stolen bases.

“There’s some stability that comes with writing Jose’s name in the lineup every single day,” manager A.J. Hinch said, “and to think that he’s going to be the franchise player for years to come is good for him, it’s good for the organization, it’s obviously good for me as a manager and most importantly is good for his teammates because he’s the most reliable player I’ve ever been around.”

After winning its first World Series title, Houston also hopes to reach more long-term football nfl jerseys Pitcher Dallas Keuchel and designated hitter Evan Gattis are eligible for free agency after this season.

Houston added pitcher Justin Verlander for its stretch run last fall and Gerrit Cole in a trade during the offseason.

“We’d love to keep all the guys I’m looking at here for their entire careers,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “Jim is committed to keeping the best team on the field for as long as possible and giving us a chance to win multiple championships, and part of that is developing our own players and keeping our own players and bringing in the right types of players. And we’ve done that. We’ll see what the future holds but we certainly have a desire and an intention to keep our core together as long as possible.”