Baseball players, like the rest of us, have had lots of spare time during the pandemic and in quarantine.
“I’ve learned to be alone,” said Padres pitcher Blake Snell.
There has been lots of learning, trapped in a hotel room or sequestered at home. There has been time to think, to experiment, time to develop a new hobby or refine an old one. So, from juice to jigsaws, coffee to cooking, reading to writing, guitar to golf, singing to swimming, dogs to dinosaurs, drawing to dunking, here’s what the players have been doing.
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw
“My creative writing and my drawing skills have gotten a little better working with the kiddos. My rainbow is second to none now. Some of my make-believe and my imagination has gotten a lot better with my son. My Star Wars knowledge has gone up quite a bit as well.” When asked if his children were better than him at drawing, Kershaw said, “Yes. I can’t outdraw my daughter; she’s 6, she’s already way better. Charlie and I, Charlie is 4, we’re on about the same level.”
Astros third baseman Alex Bregman
“When I was 5 years old, my dad would bring me home a pack of baseball cards. I had a blast opening up cards and reading the back of the cards of the players. So I started doing that again during the pandemic. I have really enjoyed it.” Has he opened a pack of cards with one of his baseball cards in it? “I haven’t yet,” he said. “To see one of my cards, that would be a little kid’s dream come true.” But that wasn’t it for Bregman. “I also started playing chess for the first time since high school. When I was in the seventh grade, I was a state champion in chess. I have a few chess trophies at my parent’s house.” And how is his chess game now? “Somehow, I still got it,” he said, smiling.
A’s infielder Tony Kemp
He worked as an activist with the +1 Effect. He helped educate people about race and equality. “With the George Floyd [killing], if I was depressed and not feeling too well myself, I knew someone else was feeling my same pain,” Kemp said. “That’s when I sent out, ‘Hey, if anyone wants to have a conversation, let’s talk about it.’ That’s how the +1 Effect got going. It was positive, it exceeded my expectations.”
Padres pitcher Blake Snell
“I started playing golf. My twin brother was talking trash about it, so I had to start playing.” That one takes up less space than his other hobby. “I added to my shoe collection. I’m up to about 500, 600 pair. I have to stop. I love all the Nike SBs. Chunky Dunks. So many others.” In his last house, Snell built a room just for his shoes. “But I moved,” he said, “and now I’m building with a new room just for my shoes in my new house. I love shoes.”
Yankees pitcher Jameson Taillon
“I have really upped my coffee game. If you want coffee, I am now the go-to guy in the clubhouse — and I just got here. I have perfected my game of pour-overs. Higgy (catcher Kyle Higashioka) is my No. 1 client. I have learned to first take care of the catchers and starting pitchers.”
Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale
“Lots of backyard sports with my three boys. Baseball, basketball, soccer, football, frisbee.” Can he still dunk? “Oh, I can dunk,” said Sale, who stands 6-foot-6. “But it’s not as fulfilling dunking on a 10-year-old. I had to show him who the man of the house is.”
Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks
“I got even better at golf,” said Hicks, who has been a scratch player for years. “No major leaguer can beat me. I heard that [Mets second baseman Jeff] McNeil is good. The last Yankee to beat me was Tyler Clippard [in 2017].”
Watch Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks crush a golf ball over the net.
Mets first baseman Pete Alonso
“I quit video games and I am now learning how to play the guitar. I got some basic melodies and some chords down. I can play a couple pretty noticeable riffs. It doesn’t sound half bad. It doesn’t sound like nails on a chalkboard anymore. Now I’m actually playing stuff the way it’s supposed to sound. Right now, I am in guitar limbo now. I am at a plateau. But if I keep practicing, I know I’ll get good. I’m not saying I’m going to be the next Jimi Hendrix.” What’s a popular song he can play? “I can play of the melody for “Under The Bridge” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I can play the “Come As You Are” riff really well.”
Astros pitcher Jake Odorizzi
“My son and I got into fishing. Mostly bass fishing. Fishing in an ocean is above my pay grade. We had a great time. My son would ask why we don’t catch a fish on every cast. I told him, ‘That’s why it’s called fishing, not catching.”’
Angels shortstop Jose Iglesias
“Music. I am taking vocal classes. I love to write songs.” Can we hear some of it? “My [music] is coming out soon,” he said. “I can’t release it too soon. You’re going to have to wait.”
A’s first baseman Matt Olson
My fiancée and I got a dog. A puppy. Black Lab. Named Cooper. He’s my phone home screen. He sleeps like a champ. He’s terrible on a leash, but I think if we took the leash off, he would be perfectly by our side. She’s [Olson’s fiancée] is handling it now. But Dad’s coming home to be the strict parent.”
Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr.
“I became a dad.” Scouting on report on his dad skills? “I am a master swaddler, a master diaper-changer,” he said.
Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo
“I started juicing my own oranges.” Does it taste better than the juice you buy at the grocery store? “Definitely, mine is much better,” he said. “Fresh orange juice is the best. I don’t like the pulp. I take the pulp out.”
Yankees pitcher Corey Kluber
“I really got into home schooling.” What is the scouting report on him as a home schooler? “Uh, I don’t have a lot of strengths and I have a lot of weaknesses,” he said. “My kids will give you all my weaknesses.”
Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor
“I continued to ride my bike. I got better. Around my house, I went 49 miles — 2 hours and 35 minutes. I just disappeared for two hours. It was amazing. The best thing ever. I would just start peddling, and the next thing you know, I was 1 hour and 10 minutes out. I thought, ‘I gotta get back.'”
Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto
“Salt-water fishing. We went deep-sea fishing. I fell in love with it. The best part was catching a black fin tuna. I caught one on the tail, reeled it in, and then we chopped it up right there on the boat and had some fresh sashimi. It was nice.”
Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer
“I did a lot of pour painting with my kids on YouTube. Abstract painting. It is wild.”
Cubs pitcher Trevor Williams
“I became a better dad spending so much time with my three kids. I learned that my son is a better paleontologist than I am. He knows all about dinosaurs. He knows the difference between a T-Rex and a Tyrannosaurus Rex. I’ll give him a win on that one. And I learned that my daughters are way better than I am at coloring outside the lines.”
White Sox pitcher Lance Lynn
“I read more books than I ever had in my life. Most were books with my kids. Most were on the reading level for a 5-year-old, which was good for me.”
White Sox second baseman Nick Madrigal
“I tried reading books, but that didn’t go very well. I tried meditation. That didn’t work. I’m a high-strung person. I play baseball, and when I’m not playing, I’m watching baseball.”
Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer
“I built a lot of jigsaw puzzles with my fiancée, Kacie.” Isn’t that tedious? “I tried to do my part,” he said. “[Kacie] did most of the work. But you don’t just empty a thousand pieces onto a table. You color code them, you do them in sections, you simplify it. If you need any help, I’m your guy.”
A’s shortstop Elvis Andrus
“I started meditating. I’m constantly doing it now. It only takes me 20-30 minutes. I’m in a really good place.”
Red Sox manager Alex Cora
“I became a cook. Barbequing. We went overboard. Lots of red meat. It was bad. When I did my labs to come here [to spring training] … whoooo. They put me on a diet right way. I had to do exercises. Our doctor, Larry Ronan, the best of the best, told me, ‘You better do something or I’ll have to give you medicine.”’ And what was Cora’s specialty? “For breakfast, I made stuffed peppers, stuffed with chorizo, Swiss cheese, eggs,” he said. “I’d put them on the grill for two hours. I had to get up early.”
Padres outfielder Wil Myers
“I dove into golf.” His handicap is now a 3. How far does he hit it? “In North Carolina, I usually go 310,” Myers said. “But here in Arizona, with the roll, I can go 360, 370. Arizona is a good place to drive a ball.” He said that golf can mess up his baseball swing, so he doesn’t play much during the season, adding that baseball takes priority because “I make a lot more money playing baseball.”
Red Sox DH J.D. Martinez
“I got into fishing. I figured if I couldn’t be around people, I might as well be on my boat to the middle of the ocean fishing by myself. I caught a bunch of sharks. My goal was to catch a big tuna. But the biggest one I caught was 25-30 pounds. I went nuts.”
Twins catcher Mitch Garver
“I started streaming video games online. The people I have met through streaming video games are very loyal Twins fans, and they are loyal to me. It gives me a chance to showcase who I am as a person, not just as a baseball player. I have a personality as well.”
Twins pitcher Jose Berrios
“I taught my kids how to swim and how to ride a bike. Now they can do it all by themselves.”
Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks
“I watched every movie and every series on Netflix. I watched every murder movie and psychological thriller. I watched every mind-bender to take my mind off what was really going on.”
Astros manager Dusty Baker
“I tried reading. Then I watched every Western movie on Starz. My wife would ask me, ‘Didn’t you just watch that one?’ And I’d say, ‘Yes, I did.”’
Rays pitcher Chris Archer
“I don’t want to say I am one with nature, but I was in California, there was hiking, beaches. I watched the sunrise and the sunset. I watched the waves. It was peaceful to see how beautiful nature can be.”
Rays shortstop Willy Adames
“I learned to cook. Rice, beans, chicken. It was average. You can eat it.”
Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres
“I became video game guy. My partner is [Yankees third baseman] Gio Urshela. We have “Team G.” We were better on the left side of the infield. We figured out the same thing in Call of Duty.”
Angels outfielder Dexter Fowler
“My putting got a lot better because we were stuck in a hotel room. I was putting into a cup. We were having a competition — trick shots.”
Nationals shortstop Trea Turner
“I got into yard work and projects in the house. I put up a ceiling fan in my last house. I’m not doing that again. That was scary. In the yard, you know, I put up some lights. Won’t put up a ceiling fan, but will put up outdoor lights.”
White Sox closer Liam Hendriks
“I bought a stick-handling hockey set with a light-up board. It’s about as long as a foosball table. I showed it to all my friends in Australia who have never played hockey.” Can he skate? “Very poorly,” he said. “But my wife is a former Junior Olympic figure skater. She gets very frustrated trying to teach me anything.”
Astros pitcher Ryan Pressly
“My wife and I built a garden. I grew jalapeno peppers. My wife planted everything else. We had some great salads.”
Joe Girardi, Jean Segura have confrontation as Philadelphia Phillies lose to Toronto Blue Jays
DUNEDIN, Fla. — The injury-depleted Philadelphia Phillies lost a game, another player and their temper.
Segura committed two errors. One miscue came in the first inning when Segura misplayed a soft one-hopper by Randal Grichuk.
“That’s a bench conversation, meant for the bench,” said Girardi, who was asked about a half-dozen times about the incident. “You can ask all you want; you got everything you’re going to get about it. I’m done with it.”
At one point, Segura had to be restrained by coach Dusty Wathan.
“I didn’t actually see it,” Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins said. “Obviously, I heard it. It’s heat-of-the-moment stuff, right. We’re all competing. Everybody in the dugout wants to win the same amount. Sometimes that’s what happens.”
Semien finished with three hits and three RBIs, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his 11th homer, a solo drive in the eighth that gave him home runs in three consecutive games.
“I feel comfortable with what I’m doing mechanically,” Semien said. “That’s always good when you don’t have to worry about changing something every day. You’re just able to focus on what you’re looking for at the plate.”
Toronto won for the sixth time in eight games, moving five games over .500 for the first time this season.
Harper replaced Scott Kingery in right in the sixth inning. Harper popped up a bunt for an out with two on and one out in the eighth with the Phillies down 9-4, then stranded two in the ninth with a game-ending strikeout on a full-count fastball from Jeremy Beasley, the eighth pitch of the at-bat.
Girardi said he talked with Harper about trying for a bunt hit in the sixth. The slugger took several big swings during his ninth-inning at-bat.
“I was concerned,” Girardi said. “Talked about some different things. I talked to Bryce — he said he wanted to try and he was OK, so we let him do it. I trust the player. I thought he had some swings.”
Kingery ran into the wall chasing a fly ball and later felt dizzy, and he will be evaluated.
Royals manager Mike Matheny calls for ‘accountability’ after game-ending call stands
CHICAGO — Add Kansas City Royals manager Mike Matheny to the list of people who have questioned motives behind video replay.
Matheny was on the wrong end of a review in the bottom of the ninth inning of his team’s game against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
With two outs in a 3-3 tie, White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu came home on a wild pitch from reliever Wade Davis. Catcher Cam Gallagher retrieved the ball and went to tag Abreu, who slid in on the third base side of home plate. He was called safe on the field and the review upheld the call, which gave the White Sox a 4-3 win.
Replays showed Gallagher may have tagged Abreu on his jersey before he reached the plate.
“If we’re going to use video replay, there needs to be some accountability,” Matheny said after the loss. “I walked in here and had two different camera angles with this guy out. Tagged before he ever touched the plate. Very obvious. I don’t know what they’re doing, backing each other up, whatever it is. It’s wrong.”
Plays can only be overturned if video review shows a conclusive reason for it. Umpires in New York made the call with the umpires in Chicago on a headset — as is the norm. Anything short of a definitive angle to overturn a ruling means the call on the field stands.
“They have the opportunity to take that much time, and from appearances, it looks like they don’t want to bring them [the players] back onto the field while they’re here with this crowd,” Matheny said. “It’s just wrong and something has to be done about it.”
The Sox were down 3-2 going into the ninth. They tied the score on a Yoan Moncada RBI single but Moncada was eventually thrown out at the plate by Whit Merrifield on a base hit to right by Yermin Mercedes. That sent Abreu to third after he was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning. Then Davis threw the wild pitch, bringing Abreu home.
“They said he was safe,” White Sox right-fielder Adam Eaton said. “They even got replay. I had a pretty good view of it. Bang, bang play. Heck of a slide by Jose. We’ll definitely take it.”
“You could see the jersey move when he tagged him on the body,” he said.
The result of the play meant the Sox and Royals split their four-game series.
Shane Bieber’s record strikeout streak ends, as Seattle Mariners chase Cleveland Indians ace early
Bieber had fanned at least eight in 20 straight games. But the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner fell just short against the Mariners, striking out seven in 4 2/3 innings.
Bieber left trailing 3-0 with the bases loaded in his shortest outing of the season.
The 25-year-old right-hander leads the majors with 92 strikeouts. Bieber started the season with 10 or more strikeouts in his first four outings, another major league record.
The last time Bieber didn’t strike out at least eight in a regular-season game was his final start of the 2019 season. He struck out seven last year in a playoff start against the Yankees.
Bieber allowed a run in the first inning Sunday. In all of 2020, he allowed only one run in the first inning.
In the series finale, Cleveland is attempting to gain a split of the four games.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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