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03/02/2008 Archived Entry: "WORLD BASEBALL TODAY: Vol. 2, No. 9"
Sunday, March 2, 2008
by Bruce Baskin, Radio Miami International
NATIONAL LEAGUE REPORT
MARLINS BEAT MIAMI HURRICANES IN WXHIBITION
Alejandro De Aza had two hits and an RBI to help the Florida Marlins to a 7-2 win over the University of Miami in a preseason game last Wednesday at Jupiter, Florida. Chris Seddon tossed two scoreless innings with three strikeouts for the Marlins, while Lee Mitchell stroked a homer for the Fish. Ryan Jackson collected three doubles for the Hurricanes.
The Marlins have beaten or tied the ‘Canes nine times in ten games over the years, including a 12-7 win in 2007. In that match, Miami had a late 7-5 lead before the Marlins notched seven runs over the final two innings. The Hurricanes are currently ranked second in the nation in the Rivals.com poll, trailing only Arizona State. Miami is ranked ninth in the latest Baseball America poll, and are number 14 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
BRAVES WIN SPRING OPENER AGAINST UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
No matter what happens during the regular season, the Atlanta Braves have maintained their all-time perfect record in games against collegiate teams from their home state. The Braves beat the University of Georgia, 8-0, last week as Chipper Jones socked a two-run double and five minor leaguers combined to toss a seven-hitter. One of those pitchers was Mexican Jorge Campillo, who is with Atlanta this spring after being buried in the minors by the Seattle Mariners last season despite obvious holes in the Mariners starting rotation. Campillo pitched two scoreless innings for the Braves.
The Braves are now 22-0 in their traditional spring opener against either the Bulldogs or Georgia Tech, who have mostly rotated the game each year since 1987. The Bulldogs dropped to 0-10 against the big league team. There were a couple of highlights for Georgia, however. Ryan Peisel had three of the Bulldogs’ seven hits, and the Braves got a one-inning peak at their second round pick last year, pitcher Joshua Fields. Fields failed to reach a contract agreement and returned to school in the fall for his senior season. Atlanta manager Bobby Cox noted, “He was only throwing 97 with a good breaking ball.”
MOYER LOOKS GOOD IN EARLY OUTING FOR PHILS
Jamie Moyer showed once again how a 45-year-old soft-tosser can continue to pitch and win in the major leagues, throwing three scoreless innings for Philadelphia last Wednesday as the Phillies beat the Cincinnati Reds, 8-1, in an exhibition game at Clearwater, Florida. Moyer went 14-12 for the Phils in 2007, leading the team with 199.1 innings pitched despite being the oldest player on the team by far.
The veteran lefty said after the game, “I was just hoping to get to my pitch limit…I got away with a lot of bad pitches.” One of those “bad” pitches resulted in a strikeout of the Reds’ Scott Freel in the third inning, but that’s typical Moyer. He may have the slowest stuff in the majors not thrown by a knuckleballer, but he gets batters out on location, mixing pitches and just plain old guile. Moyer is a pitcher in the truest sense of the word.
AMERICAN LEAGUE NEWS
KAZMIR TO MISS TWO WEEKS OF RAYS CAMP
Pitcher Scott Kazmir will miss two weeks of spring training with the Tampa Bay Rays due to an elbow strain. It was originally feared Kazmir might be out for a greater length of time, but an MRI did not reveal a serious injury. Still, the Rays are not going to rush their 24-year-old ace’s recovery, even if it means missing a start or two at the beginning of the season.
Kazmir led the American League in 2007 with 239 strikeouts, going 13-9 with a 3.48 ERA in a club record 34 starts after an All-Star Game selection one year earlier. He had been scheduled to pitch an inning of an intrasquad game last Tuesday, but was pulled after feeling discomfort in his left elbow on his final warmup pitch.
Kazmir told reporters he’d believed his elbow strain would not be serious by the time he got to the doctor’s office because a lot of the symptoms he’d been feeling “kind of went completely away.”
COLON SIGNS MINOR LEAGUE DEAL WITH BOSTON
Former Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon has signed a one-year, $1.2 million minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox. After pitching at least 200 innings in eight of nine years through the 2005 season, Colon has been limited to 29 games over the past two seasons by shoulder and elbow injuries. He missed the Los Angeles Angels’ playoff appearance last fall because of an inflamed elbow.
After two days of playing catch with Boston pitching coach John Farrell, Colon was put on a schedule that would have him ready to pitch in a game by March 9. The Red Sox are scheduled to meet the Los Angeles Dodgers that day, although Colon may pitch in a minor league contest instead. The right-hander has an overall record of 146-95 with a 4.10 ERA since starting his major league career in 1997 with Cleveland. He became a free agent after his four-year, $51 million contract expired last fall.
The Red Sox are also taking a look at righty Freddy Garcia. The 31-year-old Garcia had season-ending shoulder surgery last June after going 1-5 for Philadelphia. Boston is searching for pitching depth with Curt Schilling expected to miss at least half the upcoming season.
RED SOX VISIT BUSH AT WHITE HOUSE
The World Champion Boston Red Sox paid a visit to the White House in Washington last Wednesday for an audience with former Texas Rangers owner George W. Bush, who doubles as president of the country these days. The team was honored by Bush on the White House’s South Lawn with more than a thousand people on hand to watch, including the White House chief of staff, press aides and policy wonks.
Bush mentioned that Boston pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka has a larger press corps than he does, adding that “we both have trouble answering questions in English.” The president also turned his attention to closer Jonathan Papelbon, who danced in his underwear on Boston’s Fenway Park infield when the Red Sox clinched the pennant. Bush told Papelbon, “Thanks for wearing pants.”
The biggest laugh was on outfielder Manny Ramirez, who was absent. Ramirez missed the 2005 Red Sox ceremony at the White House after claiming he was visiting a sick grandmother. Bush said, “I guess his grandmother died again,” drawing prolonged laughter among those present, including the players.
INTERNATIONAL BASEBALL UPDATE
MEXICAN NATIONAL TEAM TO TRAVEL 11,000 MILES IN 10 DAYS
The Mexican National Team is spending a lot of time on the road in preparation for their appearance in the Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament in Taiwan. Beginning February 23, the Mexicans will have traveled over 11,000 miles by the time they open the tournament in Taipei this week against Canada.
The Mexican Selects began their odyssey with a game in Cancun on February 23, losing to the Tigres. They then went to Merida for a game with the Yucatan Leones, to Campeche for a contest with the Piratas, and then back to Cancun for another match with the Tigres. After that, they took a cross-country trip to Tijuana via Mexico City and Guadalajara. After a three-game set with the Potros, the Selects crossed the border for a two-game series with the Colorado Rockies in Tucson before heading west to Los Angeles and embarking on their long flight to Taipei for the tournament.
Veteran pitcher Pablo Ortega is looking forward to the Olympic Qualifier despite some discomfort in his right leg, saying, “Reaching the Olympics would bring important benefits to Mexican baseball. It needs more attention.”
SOUTH KOREANS PREPARING FOR OLYMPIC QUALIFIER
South Korea will be sending a mixed bag to Taiwan this week for the Olympic Qualifier tournament. While the South Koreans have perhaps their most explosive lineup ever, with sluggers Seung-yeop Lee, Dong-joo Kim and Dae-ho Lee anchoring the offense, their pitching is a concern to manager Kyung-moon Kim.
Kim, who manages the Korea Baseball Organization’s Doosan Bears, will trim his current 32-man roster to 24 in time for their Friday opener against South Africa. He’ll have to make do without U.S. pitching veterans Chan-ho Park, Byung-hyun Kim and Jae-kuk Ryu, and will rely heavily on Hanhwa Eagles pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu, who looked worn out before bowing out of the Eagles’ KBO playoff series with Doosan last fall. Former Tampa Bay pitcher Jae-weong Seo, who now pitches for the Kia Tigers, will be out with an injury, which will take away a versatile arm capable of starting or coming in out of the bullpen.
According to Kim, his final 24-man roster will consist of 10 pitchers and 14 position players.
POWELL SOAP OPERA FINALLY NEARING END IN JAPAN
It looks like the Japanese baseball version of a Mexican telenovela, or a one-season soap opera, is coming to an end. In our last episode, the dispute over Powell’s signing with both the Softbank Hawks and Orix Buffaloes was heading to the office of interim baseball commissioner Yasuchika Negoro. Standing firmly on both sides of the divide, Negoro declared both contracts null and void, effectively giving Powell free agent status. The decision was essentially a “no decision.”
Powell, who is 67-59 in seven seasons of Japanese baseball after going 0-2 last year for the Yomiuri Giants, is expected to sign another contract with the Hawks, who announced they had signed the veteran righty in late January three weeks after Orix announced Powell had inked a deal with them.
Will Jeremy Powell stick with one team? Will he have to sit out any time as a penalty for his double-dealing? Will he actually win a game this season? Stay tuned for the next installment of “All My Gaijin” on World Baseball Today.
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