Good morning. The fifth World Baseball Classic starts tomorrow night in Taiwan.
- Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani says playing in the WBC has been a dream of his since watching the first one in 2006.
- Brewers shortstop Willy Adames said the WBC is “like the World Series in spring” before he left to join his Dominican Republic teammates.
- Mets Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor talk about how thrilled they are to play in the WBC.
- Anthony Castrovince reminisces with Team Netherlands pitcher Shairon Martis, who threw the only no-hitter in WBC history in the 2006 tournament. Martis has played in every WBC except the 2009 tournament, when his Nationals team refused permission for him to play that year.
- David Adler has 12 matchups he wants to see in the WBC. Like Shohei Ohtani pitching to Mike Trout. Yeah, that would be awesome if it happens.
- Bradford Doolittle ranks the top seven lineups in the WBC. (ESPN+ sub. req.) He also compares them to historical lineups. Team USA closest comp in the 1928 Yankees. If only they had some pitching.
- R.J. Anderson has four international prospects (guys who don’t play in the US) to watch out for in the WBC.
- Unfortunately, some players are having to withdraw from the WBC because of injuries. Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has withdrawn from Team Dominican Republic because of knee inflammation.
- And Mets left-hander José Quintana has withdrawn from Team Colombia with back soreness. (The Athletic sub. req.)
- Matt Monagan writes about Nettuno, Italy, which calls itself the “city of baseball.” Local kids learned the game from US GIs in 1944 and never stopped playing it.
- There was some sad news in baseball over the weekend as Rays radio broadcaster Dave Wills passed away at 58. He had been calling Rays games for 18 years. Our condolences go out to his family, friends and the Rays organization.
- Is baseball dying? A recent survey by Ipsos reveals that MLB is still the second-most popular sport in the US after the NFL. Bill Shaikin has details.
- As far as the new rules go, they’re having the intended effect of speeding up the game. Spring Training games are averaging 2 hours and 37 minutes so far, which would be the fastest since 1979. Of course, regular season games will likely be a little slower than that, but still much faster than before the pitch clock.
- They don’t get any more “old-school” than Diamondbacks pitcher Madison Bumgarner. But Bumgarner says he loves the new rules after his first start of the spring.
- A roundtable discussion about the new rules.
- Davy Andrews writes that a five-pitch matchup between Phillies pitcher Andrew Painter and Twins shortstop Carlos Correa is a microcosm of everything that has gone on in Spring Training so far.
- Buster Olney looks at all the Dodgers’ options at shortstop after the injury to Gavin Lux. (ESPN+ sub. req.)
- MLB dot com has one prospect for each team who has been turning heads so far in Spring Training.
- Mike Axisa has ten positional battles in Spring Training.
- Danny Abriano argues that Mets prospect Brett Baty has made his claim on the third base job in Queens.
- Katie Woo explains why the Cardinals are not worried that veteran right-hander Adam Wainwright’s velocity is way down this spring. (The Athletic sub. req.) No word on what Mark DeRosa and Team USA think of one of their starters showing a stark decrease in velocity.
- Manny Randhawa has the top ten lineup duos in MLB.
- Jay Jaffe has the weakest position on the top National League playoff contenders.
- Five “dark horse” MVP predictions.
- Kyle Kishimoto tries to get to the bottom of why Jurickson Profar is still a free agent.
#Rockies have reached a non-roster agreement with DH-3B-1B Mike Moustakas, who was released by the #Reds in January.— Thomas Harding (@harding_at_mlb) March 5, 2023
- Michael Baumann notes that the Twins look like they have a deep starting rotation this year. Solid, but not elite. And that’s probably all they need to make the playoffs.
- White Sox pitcher Mike Clevinger will not be disciplined by MLB over the domestic violence allegations. He has voluntarily agreed to be evaluated by treatment boards that deal with domestic violence and substance abuse.
- And finally, Rangers left-hander Taylor Hearn plans to return to the family business after his baseball career is over. It just so happens that the “family business” in the Hearn family is rodeo. (The Athletic sub. req.)
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster. The WBC gets underway in Taiwan.