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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Baseball

Pablo Sandoval wants to catch and pitch for Giants

Pablo Sandoval wants to do a little bit of everything for the San Francisco Giants.

Sandoval served as a pitcher in one April appearance for the Giants last season in a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Manager Bruce Bochy said Saturday that his third baseman has already volunteered for that role again — and he wants to be the team’s emergency catcher, too.

It’s easy to forget now, but in his minor league career Sandoval got a decent amount of use as a catcher. That was a long time ago, but he obviously hasn’t lost the desire to do it. Considering that Bochy gave him pretty solid reviews for his pitching cameo, the manager might just let him reprise that role, too.

Watch: Tim Tebow gets his sports confused at Mets’ spring training

Tim Tebow Mets

For many, Tim Tebow will always be best known as a football player. Perhaps that’s somewhat true in his own head as well.

Tebow had a media availability Saturday and was discussing his work in the outfield — or, as he put it, his lack of snaps.

It’s been a while since Tebow was playing football competitively, but old habits die hard, as does old lingo. It may well be that Tebow will always have a football-oriented brain, no matter how far he gets playing baseball.

Tebow’s in big league spring training this year, and there remains a chance we could actually see him play Major League Baseball this season, snaps or no snaps.

Carlos Correa makes routine changes to prevent back issues

Carlos Correa

Carlos Correa was plagued by back issues for a significant portion of 2018, and he’s taking steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

The Houston Astros shortstop said Saturday he’s begun to do a lot more physically to try to prevent further back trouble, including yoga and other new exercises.

Correa missed the entire month of July last season with back issues, then struggled down the stretch after returning. He hit just .239 with 15 home runs, easily the worst offensive season of his young career to date. Hopefully his new training regimen ensures that he won’t run into trouble again on the injury front.

Roberts hints that Clayton Kershaw will start on Opening Day

Clayton Kershaw

Walker Buehler may have emerged as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ best pitcher last season, but he still has not surpassed Clayton Kershaw in status.

According to Dodgers.com reporter Ken Gurnick, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts strongly hinted on Friday that Kershaw will be the team’s Opening Day starter.

Kershaw, 30, went 9-5 with a 2.73 ERA and 155 strikeouts in 161.1 innings. Buehler had similar numbers for the season but emerged in the second half and postseason as the team’s top pitcher. Based on consistency and career accomplishments, the honor still belongs to Kershaw, though Buehler is coming close to changing that.

Cubs pitcher Brad Brach gives strange account of free agency experience

Chicago Cubs logo

Free agency has been a very difficult slog for a lot of Major League Baseball players, and Brad Brach was one of them.

Brach, a reliever with a 3.08 career ERA, didn’t sign on with the Chicago Cubs until February 11. On Friday, he peeled back the curtain on his free agency experience, and it said a lot about why some guys took so long to be signed — and others still aren’t signed at all.

It’s great fodder for those who believe that there’s some sort of ownership-level collusion going on in baseball. While it doesn’t seem that Brach is accusing anyone of anything untoward, it’s pretty clear that front offices have changed their thinking on spending in recent years, for whatever reason. One player thinks that thinking is going to have major consequences sooner rather than later.

Phillies president explains why team has not landed Harper or Machado

Phillies logo

The Philadelphia Phillies made no secret of the fact that they planned to be in on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado this offseason. They have done so, but neither of them have signed with the Phillies as of the start of spring training.

Phillies president Andy MacPhail answered for that on Friday, noting that negotiations were a two-way street and that the team had still improved this offseason.

The Phillies are still in, but MacPhail makes it sound like neither player they’re targeting is ready to make a decision. In Harper’s case, there’s the complicating factor of a division rival watching proceedings closely. The Phillies are still interested, but they’re just not there yet.

Adam Wainwright predicts MLB strike, fears players walking out midseason

Bryce Harper

MLB owners appear to once again be taking a stand this offseason against handing out massive long-term contracts to star free agents, and one veteran player is convinced the practice is going to eventually result in a work stoppage.

Longtime St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainright said Friday that he is “100 percent” certain there is going to be a strike if MLB owners don’t show more of a willingness to pay players. The 37-year-old said he’s concerned it could happen in the middle of a season.

Wainwright went on to criticize owners for placing too much emphasis on analytics and placing everything in a “sabermetric box” without taking intangibles into consideration.

The biggest issue, of course, is whether or not team owners are working together to keep the price of free agents down. That would be collusion, which is illegal. However, there’s a good chance officials have simply realized there’s no need to be paying a player like Albert Pujols $28 million when he’s 39 and batting .245.

Wainwright is not the only veteran player who has gone off about free agency recently, but it doesn’t seem like a change is coming anytime soon. In all likelihood, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are going to get less money than they were seeking. While that could be the result of collusion, it could also be that teams are getting wiser.