Around the NL East: Rafael Soriano Shows Up, Chase Utley Does His Job, Giancarlo Beaned and the Worst. Outfield. Ever?

Several players have already suffered a few aches and pains, but Giancarlo got beaned in the head. - Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend, we embark on the start of a season anew, with Grapefruit League games beginning, and us getting our first looks at our favorite players after a very tempermental winter. That is, before most squads get gutted from players going to play for their respective countries in the WBC.

Welcome back to the basement.

2013nym_medium

Daniel Murphy becomes first casualty of Spring Training for the Mets - NY Times
It's almost as if he took absolutely zero swings at all during the off-season or something, but Daniel Murphy has already suffered an intercostal muscle strain in his right side. So in other words, he will not really be swinging a bat or doing any of the drills and calisthenics for a little while, and be limited to stationery bicycling and medication.

The 2013 Mets outfield could be the worst outfield, like ever - Grantland
That's a pretty bold statement to be making, but considering the projected opening day outfield is currently slated to be Lucas Duda-Kirk Nieuwenhuis-Mike Baxter, you might actually stop and wonder if it could possibly be true.

It doesn't help when the two highest paid outfielders don't play for the Mets anymore - The Mets Police
For that matter, one of those two doesn't even play baseball anymore, and hasn't played baseball for 12 years. Ah yes, the good ol' Bobby Bonilla arc never gets old, as BobbyBo will make yet another $1.2M in 2013 from the Mets, which is almost equal to the combined pre-arb league minimum salaries that will be going to the outfield triumvirate mentioned above. Oh, and Jason Bay's $18M that the Mets are on the still on the hook for.

Anyway, Kirk Nieuwenhuis gets first crack at batting leadoff - NY Daily News
I probably would have gone with Ruben Tejada first, but the Daily News seems pretty hell-bent on capitalizing on every opportunity they get to make the "Captain Kirk" headlines when they can, and considering that nobody is really safe on the Mets roster aside from like David Wright, I guess they're getting them in while they can.

Well darn, it turns out Jennry Mejia is actually Jennry Mejia - AA
In a spot of good news for the Mets, it turns out that Jennry Mejia's identity actually seems legit. So with his visa issues resolved, he should be reporting to Port St. Lucie by the time the column breaks.

Turns out it wasn't that severe for Frank-Franc - ESPN
Initially shelved by inflammation in his throwing elbow, Frank Francisco's been cleared for some light throwing as early as next week.

But just in case, more relievers, potentially in the form of Jose Valverde - AA
Not going to lie, as much as Jose Valverde's theatrics upon completing a save are excessive and grating sometimes, he would probably be a better closing option than Francisco, Bobby Parnell, or Brandon Lyon. But that's if the Mets can actually snipe him late in the game, as he is still looking for a job.

Zack Wheeler looking good against live batting practice - NY Post
The 22-year old top pitching prospect for the Mets impressed a lot of people during the first live BP session.

But even LaTroy Hawkins can look good when all batters are essentially deliberately taking pitches - NY Times
I'm pretty sure that I could look like a #1 starter when nobody actually swings the bat:

"It’s live pitchers practice; it’s not really live batting practice," said the right-hander Collin McHugh, who threw to Mets batters Tuesday. "The hitters are mainly just tracking pitches, trying to see what the ball looks like coming out of the hand again."

Matt Harvey has some modest expectations for 2013 - MetsBlog
I hate to break it to you Matt, but I'm pretty sure your opposition won't be taking pitches all day long, all season long.

Minor league outfielder listed on PED list - NY Times
Gio Gonzalez may have gotten off the hook from the Biogenesis PED scandal, but Cesar Puello, a 21-year old outfielder currently in the Mets' system is precariously close to getting busted. His name was one of five names that were revealed to have directly received PEDs from the Miami "anti-aging" clinic. Whether he used anything or not has yet to be determined, but simply receiving them is certainly going to raise skepticism towards you.

David Wright sends ominous message to juicers - NY Daily News

"If you cheat, I hope you get caught," Wright told the Daily News. "I don’t care if you’re with the same agency I’m with or not. If you’re a cheater, I hope you get caught, and I hope you get punished."

The part about the agency was probably directed specifically to Puello, whom like Wright, is a Levinson Bros. client, hoping to scare him into cleaning up if he in fact was juicing.

2013was_medium

Mike Rizzo feels that the Nationals are ITBSOTL - Nationals Journal
He didn't say it precisely, but he's definitely leaning towards it. According to Rizzo, everyone's shown up in good physical conditioning, and they're always packing the weight room and putting good effort into getting into optimal playing shape.

Gio Gonzalez supposedly off the hook in PED scandal - Nats Insider
Although he didn't receive any specific illegal PEDs from the Biogenesis clinic in Miami, Gio still did purchase a good amount of not-banned substances from them. But such information seems to be good enough to absolve him of the recent accusations that he could be a juicer.

Jordan Zimmermann avoids arb hearing, Rafael Soriano finally shows up - MASN
As is often the case, both parties agreed to split the difference, which means Jordan Zimmermann settled on $5.3M despite the Nats offering $4.8M while he requested $5.8M, avoiding the uncomfortable arbitration hearing. Also, Rafael Soriano finally showed up after resolving his visa issues that conveniently allowed him to continue working out on the beach in the D.R.

Did you guys know that Soriano has his own personalized entrance music now? - Nats Enquirer
Man does New York change a guy. Who would have thought that the serial killer-quiet Rafael Soriano would end up having personalized entrance music? If I'm a guy that believes in clubhouse chemistry, I can't say that I'd really want a guy like Soriano, to be honest.

Nationals sign Chris Young the pitcher to minor league deal - Nats Insider
Typical signing this time of year to attempt to get some pitching depth, and in all likelihood, the 6'10 righty is going to be starting his season in Syracuse.

Guess who's on the cover of Sports Illustrated? - Nats Enquirer
To his credit, this isn't the first time that Harper's been on the cover of SI, as he was on it when he was a highly touted phenom back three years ago. But this has really just gotten me thinking of how many weeks it's going to be until the Upton Brothers are on the cover of SI, with the headline BRAVE NEW WORLD on it for the 7,564th time.

Harpcoeur also works out at raves apparently - The Bog
So many things I could say, but it's really just best to watch the video in the article.

Ross Detwiler to join Team USA in WBC - MASN
Even better for those rooting against the Nats; two of the Nationals' starting pitchers are now committed to Team USA while the Braves have zero. Even if Gio's only going to be eligible come the second round, if/when Team USA gets there.

Coming off of shoulder surgery, the laughable "Zimmerman to first base" theories should start popping up again - Nationals Journal
Opting for surgery instead of a season full of cortisone shots finally, Ryan Zimmerman is easing his way back into throwing from third base. As a result, the first few spring training games, Zim will be playing at DH to get his at-bats in, without having to test the arm so soon, but this will probably spark all the conspiracy theorists that think the defensive wizard should end up at first base immediately.

The day a media outlet just admits someone is having diarrhea is the day they are my favorite outlet - Nats Insider
Nationals pitching prospect Christian Garcia had to cut one of his early spring workouts short, due to "stomach issues" as well as forearm issues. One of these days, I just want to see an outlet just admit that an athlete is having indigestion, instead of using code words like "abdominal cramping" or "intestinal problems." And considering how cavalier Garcia was about his arm issues, it sounds like a front to take the focus off of the fact that everyone poops.

Ian Desmond has decided to adopt the pornstache for 2013 - The Bog
It's funny that a team with a GM as involved and hands-on like Mike Rizzo doesn't have rules for facial hair. Following in the footsteps of Nick Johnson, Ian Desmond has adopted the pornstache, while Jayson Werth's beard continues to allow Jayson Werth to live on it.

Thankfully, Danny Espinosa sheds his own beard - Nats Enquirer
In a way, I'm a little sad, because I was ready to go into 2013 with a litany of jokes about how he looked like Matisyahu or other jokes used in Knocked Up, but it's for the best.

2013phi_medium

Laughable Giancarlo Stanton rumor prompts laughable actually published headline - High Cheese
But yeah, Philadelphia must be grasping at straws this spring if they're even bothering to publish the idea that the Phillies have what it takes to acquire Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins.

Chase Utley will be doing his job and somehow this is news why? - Phillies Nation
You know it doesn't imply good things when Chase Utley being scheduled to work on a work day is newsworthy. But for the record, Chase Utley hasn't played in a Grapefruit League opener in three years. Also, if the picture in this link is what he looks like right now, I have to say that Utley looks like well, he's malnourished or something. Bad camera angle maybe?

Blabbermouth Jonathan Papelbon blabs about lack of team leadership - Phillies Zone
Just one year removed from his Phillies debut, Jonathan Papelbon thinks that there's nobody on the Phillies who is really a vocal leader. Charlie Manuel doesn't really believe in vocal leaders; Aaron Rowand was cited as being the last "vocal leader" that the Phillies had and pointed out the following:

With Rowand on the roster, the Phillies were 174-150 (.537) and did not win a postseason game. The Phillies were 465-345 (.574) after Rowand departed, and won two pennants.

With Papelbon on the roster, the Phils went 81-81 in their first year. Just sayin'.

The importance of foul balls - Beerleaguer
Ben Revere doesn't walk a lot, but he also doesn't strike out a lot. His contact rate is excellent, but at the same time he doesn't foul off a lot of pitches, therefore resulting in not taking more pitches than he possibly could.

Guess who's not going to be ready for the start of the season? Hint: He's fat - Phillies Nation
Apparently, Delmon Young had microfracture surgery on his ankle back in November. The Phillies still signed him in spite of this for some reason, and it turns out that there is a possibility that he might not even be eligible to play until like May. Ironically, I have to imagine that this makes the Phillies potentially better, because it means that there could possibility be a place for Darin Ruf to start every day in left field while someone like Domonic Brown could get a crack at right-field.

Delmon Young's fall from grace - Minor League Ball (ht/TGP)
For those of you who were never aware of Delmon Young, he was one of the most promising prospects, like ever, and his minor league numbers were simply awe-inspiring. It's funny who Young is compared to at age 27, and then realizing that in spite of their personality and talent differences, they've essentially made the exact same amount of money throughout their careers.

Roy Halladay probably won't start opening day - Philly.com
In a previous year, I'd have said "good," because they open against the Braves, but considering it's then a choice between Cole Hamels or Cliff Lee, and it's kind of like "awww" Also, Halladay is completely aboard the idea of Hamels starting the season.

An oral account of the Vance Worley trade - High Cheese
It's not often we as the fans get to hear something so candid sounding when it comes to the business of baseball, and for that reason, I kind of found this interesting, with Vance Worley giving his initial thoughts and emotions when it came to his getting traded from the Phillies to the woeful Twins.

2013mia_medium

Jose Reyes is still unhappy with Jeffrey Loria, Giancarlo displays maturity - Fish Stripes
Reyes has every right to be unhappy, given the series of events that took place that culminated with him getting traded to Toronto. But at the same time, whether it was deliberate or not, sets Giancarlo up to display some very sage maturity beyond his age, and make him look really, really good.

Too bad the best player on the Marlins just got beaned in the head - Fish Bytes
By the Marlins' top pitching prospect, no less. Jose Fernandez lost control of a fastball, and it ended up beaning Giancarlo Stanton in the head, to which he was immediately removed from the simulated game, and given x-rays on the neck out of precaution. Scans came back negative, but Giancarlo claims he still felt loopy.

I'm not saying he's dumb or anything but... - Palm Beach Post

a Miami TV station ran footage of 20-year-old prospect Jose Fernandez with a puzzled look on his face when he was asked about Marlins manager Mike Redmond.

"Who?" Fernandez replies

If you're the top pitching prospect in the organization, I would imagine that it helps to know who the big league club's manager is. But to Fernandez's credit, the Marlins have had quite the revolving door of managers throughout the last decade, so he gets a little bit of a pass here.

Marlins sign Casey Kotchman to minor league deal - Fish Bytes
Since Logan Morrison is going to be starting the season on the disabled list, the Marlins have a pretty big vacancy at first base. So, instead of trying to piecemeal someone to play replacement-level first base until LoMo comes back, the Marlins opted to get replacement-level offense, but with a decent glove in former-Brave, Casey Kotchman.

Who, due to a discrepancy in beliefs, immediately injures himself - Palm Beach Post
During a pop-up drill, for whatever reason, Casey Kotchman put his hand on a machine with two wheels spinning really, really fast. Needless to say, instead of letting it fall to minimize injury, Kotchman grabbed the wheel entirely, and ended up cutting his hand up, requiring stitches, and making him ineligible for any drills or workouts until it heals. Not to be ignored in the story, several of Kotchman's Marlin teammates, including Greg Dobbs, question Kotchman's judgment "to be a gentleman to the machine," as opposed to letting the machine fall, break, and end the drill (so they can go golf and fish earlier).

So with Kotchman shelved, how's LoMo doing? - Sun Sentinel
Well, his knee is slowly getting better, and if all goes correctly, he'll be at least doing some baseball activities by moving on a treadmill, before graduating to grass.

Justin Ruggiano already has a stiff back - Fish Bytes
Despite his claims that he's ready to be the protection and potent bat the Marlins need to slot behind Giancarlo, Ruggiano is already off to a rough start in the first week of Spring, already coming out of practice with stiff back pains.

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