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Top Highlights from Spring Training's Opening Week of Games

Karl BuscheckContributor IIIFebruary 28, 2014

Top Highlights from Spring Training's Opening Week of Games

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    Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

    From Josh Reddick disregarding the laws of physics to Vin Scully dropping his first classic line of the season, it's been one entertaining first week of MLB spring training. 

    Of course, there's also the "kitchen" catch to get to and plenty of other highlights from the first week of spring games. So, here's a look around the league at all the best quotes, tweets, photos and more from MLB spring training. 

     

    Note: All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com. All videos courtesy of MLB Advanced Media. 

Class Is in Session at the Baltimore Orioles' Spring Training Camp

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    Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

    The first week of spring training has been a highly educational experience for Baltimore Orioles prospect Josh Hart. 

    The No. 37 overall selection from the 2013 draft was in big league camp on Monday, the same day that Orioles legend Brooks Robinson delivered a speech to the team, according to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun

    Hart had never heard of Robinson, and when Buck Showalter found out, he assigned the 19-year-old a one-page report on the Hall of Famer.

    The story created such a buzz that Showalter told Encina: "I actually feel bad right now, I really do. I've got a good feeling we will be talking about something else concerning Josh Hart than that at some point. He's a talented kid."

    Hart apparently did a pretty good job with his report, as Showalter told ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike" that he gave the paper an A+ (via ESPN.com).

Barry Bonds to Serve as Spring Training Instructor for San Francisco Giants

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Barry Bonds is back with the San Francisco Giants.

    The all-time career home runs leader will serve as a spring training instructor at the club's camp from March 9-17, according to Alex Pavlovich of the Bay Area News Group.

    Bonds is just one of a group of former Giants greats who will serve as an instructor for the team. J.T. Snow, Jeff Kent, Will Clark and Robb Nen will also join the Giants in Scottsdale. 

    Manager Bruce Bochy told Pavlovich that he doesn't have "any concerns" about Bonds being around the team. Bochy explained how he expects Bonds to help out, via Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle:

    To have his knowledge, and have a guy who's one of the greatest hitters of all time talking to hitters, it's going to be beneficial to everyone. Barry had talent, sure. But he was a very smart hitter. To hear what he has to say about hitting gives us another set of eyes and a brain to help out.

    One suspects that Bonds, who clubbed 762 home runs in his career, will have an insight or two to impart to the Giants' hitters. 

    If you were the Giants, would you want Bonds in camp, or do you think his presence will cause too much of a distraction?

     

Heisman Trophy Winner Jameis Winston Faces off Against the New York Yankees

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    On Tuesday, Jameis Winston and his Florida St. University teammate took the field against the New York Yankees in a spring training exhibition game. 

    The Heisman Trophy winner and national champion ended up going 0-for-2 in the contest, as he struck out and grounded out.

    Nonetheless, CC Sabathia is a fan of the the 20-year-old, as the left-hander noted to Bob Nightengale of USA Today: "It's super cool to see what he's doing. I'd love to get an autograph from him some day, maybe a football too."

     

Josh Reddick Makes 2 Home Run Saving Catches in 1st Cactus League Game

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    Josh Reddick is renowned for his glove work. And the Oakland Athletics' right-fielder didn't waste any time putting those skills on display, as he robbed not one but two home runs in the club's Cactus League opener. 

    Both grabs were remarkable, but the first one could just be the catch of the year. So what do you think? Will there be a better defensive play in 2014 than Reddick's first home run saving catch?

     

Injury Updates on Zack Greinke, Josh Hamilton and Cole Hamels

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Zack Greinke might not be pitching in Australia after all. 

    The right-hander for the Los Angeles Dodgers left his first start of the spring with a mild right calf strain while facing just the second batter of the game, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

    Afterwards, Greinke gave his take on the injury, via Gurnick: "Hopefully, it's not a big deal. I think it's minor. We'll see in a couple of days. Right now, I don't feel too bad."

    Earlier in the week, Greinke had remarked that there was "absolutely zero excitement" for the team's opening series in Australia against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Now, his status for the trip is very much in question. 

    Josh Hamilton has also been slowed by a calf injury in the early days of spring training. The left fielder for the Los Angeles Angels strained his left calf and is expected to be shutdown for a couple of weeks, according to manager Mike Scioscia, via Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.

    However, Scioscia also told Shaikin that the Angels are "optimistic" that Hamilton will be ready to go on Opening Day. 

    Cole Hamels won't be ready for Opening Day, but his recovery from shoulder tendinitis is going smoothly, as Jayson Stark of ESPN reports. Philadelphia Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure explained to Stark that he doesn't think Hamels will miss more than a couple of starts.

    The left-hander threw 35 pitches off the mound on Wednesday and afterward told Stark: "I was pain-free."

C.J. Wilson Rips Protective Caps

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    Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

    On Tuesday, C.J. Wilson took a line drive off his head while throwing live batting practice to his Los Angeles Angels teammates. A day later, the left-hander explained in no uncertain terms that he has no plans to don the newly available protective cap, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times:

    It's like wearing a bucket on your head .... I'm trying to think of a polite way to say this: Literally they're terrible. They're a terrible design. They're cumbersome. It's impossible to pitch with one of those on. 

    As Shaikin points out, the protective caps weigh between 10 to 11 ounces, while normal hats are just three to four ounces.

    Wilson also told Shaikin about the unusual backstory behind getting hit in the head:

    I just didn't get enough sleep the night before. I was watching Pedro Martinez highlights on YouTube, trying to get amped up for my live BP session. True Story. So I got about four hours of sleep. I didn't have the reflexes I normally would have.

Detroit Tigers Minor League Affiliate to Wear 'Ghostbusters' Jerseys

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    David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

    The Detroit Tigers' Triple-A affiliate, the Toledo Mud Hens, will wear Ghostbusters jerseys as a promotion on May 30, according to Brian Manzullo of the Detroit Free Press

    The MLB Fan Cave Twitter account provides a glimpse of what the uniforms will look like:

    The @MudHens will wear Ghostbusters jerseys on May 30: http://t.co/FQy2cykDUq pic.twitter.com/61v4F5Snmn

    — MLB Fan Cave (@MLBFanCave) February 27, 2014

    As Manzullo reports, the jerseys will be auctioned off after the game with proceeds benefiting charity. 

Jose Abreu Impresses Chicago White Sox Brass Early On

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Jose Abreu is known for his outlandish power. So, it's only fitting that in his first at-bat in an intrasquad game for the Chicago White Sox that Abreu would reach base on an infield single. The White Sox provided a look at Abreu's first at-bat via the team's Twitter account:

    Jose Abreu collects an infield hit in today's #SoxSpringTraining intrasquad game. https://t.co/asUOZQOPbu

    — Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) February 25, 2014

    General manager Rick Hahn likes what he's seen from the Cuban slugger so far, as he explained to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com:

    He's been everything we hoped for and more. A large part of the appeal to us for signing Jose was his professionalism and how serious he was about his craft. Whether he is in the cage, or in pre-workouts on the field, he has a purpose, and you can tell this is a guy who takes what he does very seriously and wants to maximize his talent.

    Dave Schoenfield of ESPN set the over/under on Abreu's home run output at 29.5. I'll take the over. Feel free to chime in with your take in the comments section below. 

     

Masahiro Tanaka Set to Make Spring Debut on Saturday

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Saturday will be a busy day at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.

    CC Sabathia will get the start for the New York Yankees, but Masahiro Tanaka is also slated to make his stateside debut. The Yankees plan to have the former ace of the Rakuten Golden Eagles throw two innings and about 35 pitches in relief of Sabathia. 

    Manager Joe Girardi explained what he'll be looking for in Tanaka's first outing in pinstripes, per Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News:

    I think you want to see him out there against big league hitters, see how he does and see how he reacts. I'm happy with the progress that he's made and how he's not tried to do too much. I think he's adapted to what we've asked him to do, and I think he's kind of embraced it.

    So, what about you Yankees fans? What will you most be looking out for in Tanaka's first appearance of the spring?

     

Cleveland Indians Prospect Makes Awesome 'Kitchen' Catch

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    At first glance, it appears as though Cleveland Indians prospect Carlos Moncrief is about to make a mess of that kitchen.

    But don't worry, that's actually just an advertisement on the right field wall at Goodyear Ballpark, home of the Indians and the Cincinnati Reds.  

    Glenn Moore of the North Eastern Ohio Media Group/Cleveland.com, provides another angle of the unusual scene:

    Indians OF Carlos Moncrief at Goodyear. Pic of the kitchen was for an ad on the right field wall. (Chuck Crow/PD) pic.twitter.com/4TWCIVLt6h

    — Glenn Moore (@GlennMooreCLE) February 27, 2014

     

     

Prince Fielder Blasts Home Run in 1st Game with Texas Rangers

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    In just his second at-bat as a Texas Ranger, Prince Fielder went deep off Danny Duffy of the Kansas City Royals. Or as Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star put it:

    Prince Fielder just killed a baseball.

    — Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) February 27, 2014

    After the game, Fielder gave his take, via Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News: "I just got lucky. I threw my bat at it and just happened to be where the ball was going. I know they don't count, but it's good for you mentally."

     

Johan Santana Only Hits 81 MPH on Radar Gun in Workout

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Johan Santana still has a ton of work to do if he hopes to return to the big leagues.

    The two-time Cy Young Award winner worked out for seven teams on Tuesday, according to George A. King III of the New York Post. King reports that Santana "topped out at 81 mph," and most of his pitches were sitting in the 77-78 mph range.

    As Dan Szymborski of ESPN tweets, that's "not exactly an auspicious sign." According to King, the 34-year-old Santana is angling to return to the major leagues around May or June. That sounds optimistic, to say the least.

    What do you think? Will Santana throw a big league pitch in 2014? 

     

Carl Crawford with a 'Belly Whooper' of Slide

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    Apparently Carl Crawford could use a little sliding practice. 

    The legendary voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Vin Scully, provides the call, as can be heard in the video above:

    Crawford goes in head first. Hits hard. His chin hits the ground, and the helmet goes flying off into center field. That was a tough slide. A belly whooper, at best. OK if he had a sled under him and he was on snow.

    A belly whooper indeed. The MLB Memes Twitter account gives a look at the unfortunate slide in GIF form below:

    Carl Crawford's slide is an early nominee for WORST of 2014! #FACEPLANT (GIF) http://t.co/kjGisYNZL0

    — MLB Memes (@MLBMeme) February 27, 2014

     

Japhet Amador Reports to Spring Training with Houston Astros

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    Japhet Amador has arrived at the Houston Astros spring training camp, as Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. The first baseman had missed the beginning of spring training after deciding to remain in Mexico to attend to his sick wife.

    Last year, Amador, who stands 6'4" and weighs in at around 305 pounds, had a monster campaign in the Mexican League.

    In 449 plate appearances, Amador clubbed 36 home runs, tallied 121 RBI and batted .368/.419/.693. In 10 games with the Astros' Triple-A club, Amador posted an unusual .302/.302/.302 slash line. 

    Upon his arrival, Amador explained his plan for the spring, via McTaggart:

    Japhet Amador is here and told the media his dream is to win 1B job. Goal is to get into games in three or four days.

    — Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) February 28, 2014

Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Gregory Polanco off to a Fast Start

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    It's still early, but Gregory Polanco is already off to a strong start.

    In the second game of the Grapefruit League campaign, the Pittsburgh Pirates' top prospect deposited a home run into the right field seats off David Phelps of the New York Yankees.

    With just nine Triple-A at-bats on his resume, Polanco is slated to begin the year in the minors, but it should only be a matter of time before he makes his way to Pittsburgh.

    Along with the likes of Oscar Taveras of the St. Louis Cardinals, Addison Russell of the Oakland Athletics and Francisco Lindor of the Cleveland Indians, Polanco is one of the most promising young players to track this spring. 

    So, which prospects will you be keeping tabs on as Opening Day approaches? Feel free to add your top picks in the comments section below. 

     

    If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck

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