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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Baseball

Noah Syndergaard has funny exchange with Mets reporter

Noah Syndergaard has been having some fun with the media during spring training this year, and his interactions with reporters who cover the Mets have now spilled over into everyday life.

On Sunday, Mike Puma of the New York Post shared a funny exchange he had with Syndergaard while on his way to West Palm Beach, which is where the Mets were headed to take on the Washington Nationals. Syndergaard jokingly threatened to slash Puma’s tires.

Hey, some players just give the media short responses to let them know they’re unhappy with them. At least Syndergaard was more forward about it.

Syndergaard had previously told Puma that another New York Post writer who now covers the New York Yankees is “dead to me.”

Syndergaard is easily one of baseball’s most zany characters, and the offseason is when his personality tends to shine. Puma knows that better than most, and he must have been relieved when he learned his tires weren’t actually going to be slashed.

Bruce Bochy follows through with amusing lineup choice vs. Royals

Perhaps the most famous of the San Francisco Giants’ three titles of the last decade was sealed in 2014, when Madison Bumgarner’s amazing performance in Game 7 saw off the Kansas City Royals for a third championship in five seasons.

On Sunday, manager Bruce Bochy decided to recreate a little of the magic. He started the same battery and infield that played the final five innings of that seventh game.

And no, it was not coincidental. Bochy had openly admitted that he was considering pulling the stunt earlier this week.

The Giants aren’t expected to contend for a championship as Bochy embarks on his final season as their manager, so this is really just a bit of spring training fun. If you get the chance, why not do it?

Report: Yankees have made offer to Gio Gonzalez

Gio Gonzalez Max Scherzer

The New York Yankees are looking to add some starting rotation depth with Luis Severino expected to miss at least the first month of the regular season, and free agent Gio Gonzalez is one option they continue to consider.

Jon Heyman of Fancred reports that the Yankees have made an offer to Gonzalez, though it does not sound like it was a flattering one. The left-hander turned it down.

Gonzalez is 33 and remains a free agent with less than two weeks remaining until the start of the regular season, so it’s safe to assume teams don’t want to give him the contract he has been seeking. The Yankees know that, and they are likely waiting it out to see if the price drops.

Gonzalez had a bit of a down year last year with a 4.21 ERA and 10-11 record, but he seemed revitalized by a late-season trade from the Nationals to the Brewers. He posted a 2.13 ERA in five starts with Milwaukee to close out the year. If the Yankees think his production down the stretch in 2018 wasn’t a fluke, Gonzalez would be a nice addition while Severino recovers from his shoulder injury.

Baker Mayfield cameos as first base coach during Brewers spring training game

Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield is enjoying his first full NFL offseason by moonlighting as a Major League Baseball coach.

Mayfield is visiting Milwaukee Brewers camp, and on Saturday, he was granted the opportunity to coach first base in the fourth inning of the team’s spring training game, armed with a stopwatch and everything.

So what exactly is Mayfield doing in Brewers camp? According to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, it was the brainchild of Milwaukee’s MVP outfielder Christian Yelich. You may recall that Mayfield eagerly supported Yelich’s MVP campaign, as the two became friends while working out together the previous offseason. Mayfield was even on hand when Yelich took home the hardware.

Yelich repaid the favor, in a way, by getting the organization to approve a two-day stint for Mayfield in camp, complete with his own locker — and apparently an inning coaching first base.

Yasiel Puig thinks Dodgers made mistake getting rid of him

Yasiel Puig

The Los Angeles Dodgers may not have signed Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, but they were still active over the offseason. In fact, one of their trades was among the most notable of the winter.

The Dodgers traded Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, Kyle Farmer and cash to the Cincinnati Reds for Homer Bailey, Josiah Gray and Jeter Downs back in December. The move was designed to free up some payroll for the Dodgers and clear up their surplus of outfielders. For Cincinnati, the trade brought them a few legitimate bats to put around Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett, and Eugenio Suarez.

Even in a new city, Puig thinks he will have a positive impact, and he plans to show the Dodgers made a mistake by trading him.

“Now I have to do my part to show that they made a mistake,” Puig told SI’s Jon Tayler in a feature. “I’ll show them what I could have done for them if they’d kept me.”

Puig also believes the Dodgers haven’t added anyone who can do what he can.

“It’s their problem,” Puig says of the Dodgers’ decision to move him. “I don’t know what they did with that trade, because they didn’t get anyone who could help them the way I could. But that’s business.”

I agree with him. Though he’s mostly only batted in the .260s the past few seasons, he has a history of performing in the postseason against the toughest competition. He’s a career .280 hitter with a .780 OPS and 23 RBIs in 58 playoff games. When many players shrink in that spotlight and against the tough pitchers, he often lives up to the moment. The Dodgers will likely miss that, just as he says, especially since he thinks he will be working harder finally.

AJ Hinch: Angel Hernandez said ‘inappropriate’ and ‘unprofessional’ things

Angel Hernandez

AJ Hinch was ejected in the first inning of a spring training game on Friday and thinks the way umpire Angel Hernandez handled things was “ridiculous.”

Hinch spoke after his Houston Astros beat the St Louis Cardinals 5-0 in a spring game and shared his side of what happened. The Astros manager says Hernandez admitted to him in a previous conversation that he gets four calls wrong a game. Hinch was upset about the way Hernandez was calling balls and strikes for pitcher Forrest Whitley in the top half of the first and addressed it between innings. He then felt Hernandez intentionally made a bad call on the first pitch to George Springer in the bottom half of the inning, and yelled that Hernandez had “used all four.” Hernandez tossed him in response.

“The fact that he wanted to throw me out in a spring training game is pretty ridiculous,” Hinch said after the game. “He’s known for overreaction a little bit. When you argue balls and strikes, you get thrown out. I get it. As it escalated, he said some condescending things that are inappropriate and unprofessional.”

Here’s the video:

Outside of maybe Joe West, there is no umpire we write about more for his actions than Angel Hernandez. He was called “horrible” after his atrocious game in the playoffs last year, and he seems to be the target of criticism more often than not. He’s bad at his job and really does not deserve to be umpiring MLB games.

Clayton Kershaw unlikely to be ready for Opening Day

Clayton Kershaw

Someone other than Clayton Kershaw will be getting the Opening Day nod for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Manager Dave Roberts confirmed that Kershaw is unlikely to be ready for Opening Day as he works his way back from shoulder issues that have plagued him for much of the spring.

Kershaw is slowly making progress and successfully got through a bullpen session on Thursday. The good news is it doesn’t sound like Kershaw will miss much time at the start of the season, but the Dodgers have every reason to be cautious with their ace left-hander given the injury issues he’s had over the last few years. Someone else will get the honor of the Opening Day nod.