- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
Before every game, position players on both teams will gather on the foul lines and do their last sprints before the first pitch, and often this leads to greetings in the outfield behind second base -- hearty handshakes and hugs.
If Joe Torre, baseball's new czar of on-field discipline, has his way, then this kind of thing will be curtailed. Torre has asked club staff members to nudge their players toward curtailing that kind of fraternization after the gates have been opened to fans.
Friends from rival teams will often have dinner after games, away from the park. But what has rankled some folks in the game has been the gradual increase in on-field conversations when fans are in the park, because they would prefer that the players reinforce the lines of competition. Some players -- like the Yankees' Mariano Rivera -- already prefer to limit their conversation with opposing players, but others don't draw that distinction.
Torre's preference might be to curtail the fraternization, but the reality is that MLB can't really make this happen without the cooperation of the players -- and as MLB learned in its effort to get players to speed up their at-bats, some players will simply ignore the request.
Justin Verlander didn't jump and scream, nor did he run around like crazy and leap into the arms of his catcher. He gave it a pump of the fist, in front of a big grin. Because he's done it before, and there's no reason to think that a pitcher clocked at 100 mph in the eighth inning of a no-hitter on Saturday won't do it again.
From Daniel Braunstein of ESPN Stats and Info, some Verlander tidbits:
Justin Verlander threw his second career no-hitter and joined Mark Buehrle and Roy Halladay as the only active pitchers with two no-hitters (including postseason). It was the second no-hitter in the majors in the last five days.
In Verlander's first no-hitter, he struck out 12 hitters; he struck out just four Saturday.
How Verlander threw a no-hitter:
A. Verlander threw five pitches at 100 mph or higher, tying his most in any start in the last three seasons. Verlander's velocity got stronger as the game went on. All five of his pitches at 100 or higher came in either the seventh or eighth inning. Verlander's average fastball velocity of 97.3 mph ties his second highest in a start in the last three years.
B. The Blue Jays did not hit a ball out of the infield against any of Verlander's 52 off-speed pitches. Three of Verlander's four strikeouts were with off-speed pitches. Toronto grounded out six times (one of which was a double play) and popped out four times in the infield against Verlander's off-speed pitches. Overall, just three of the 22 balls the Blue Jays put in play against any of Verlander's pitches left the infield.
C. He kept Toronto off balance by throwing his slider 23 times, his second most in a start in the last three seasons. His most is 25 sliders in a start, also against the Blue Jays (Aug. 27, 2010).
As he looks back on the early part of the season, Chipper Jones thinks that he probably could've played in every game. But he is coming back from knee surgery and he is 39 years old, so every day, Fredi Gonzalez will ask him how he feels, and if they agree that it would be good for Jones to rest, then he will. Bobby Cox, the only manager that Jones ever played for before this year, had a different approach -- more old-school, because he wouldn't go up and ask Jones if he needed a day off.
So far this season, Jones has played very well, hitting .291, with an .842 OPS, and his left knee -- which was surgically repaired -- has felt very good, he said.
On Eric Hosmer's first day in the big leagues with the Royals, almost 10,000 fans bought tickets to see him. At his pregame news conference, there were seven television cameras in place, including one from a station that carried the whole thing live. Two local radio stations carried it live.
Right away, in his first inning in the big leagues, Hosmer showed his range of skills, beyond his swing, starting a 3-6-3 double play. Kansas City manager Ned Yost remarked after the game that none of the other first basemen that the Royals have played at the position could have made that play -- and what he meant by that is that Hosmer throws left-handed and the others throw right-handed. But the ease with which he fielded and threw was one piece of evidence to support what Paul Splittorff once said after watching Hosmer in the minors -- he's going to win some Gold Gloves.
- Andre Ethier broke the silence in the near-empty clubhouse.
"Why such long faces?" he said. "It feels awkward."
• Julio Teheran, born on the day Scott Norwood kicked wide right in the Super Bowl, is just 20 years old, and the youngest pitcher to start a game since Steve Avery. The Braves juggled their rotation so that Jair Jurrjens would have the start on national television tonight, rather than Teheran.
And in his debut on Saturday, Teheran had the same kind of struggles that a lot of young pitchers go through. He had difficulty establishing any of his secondary pitches, and the Phillies sat on his fastball and took big swings -- none bigger than a hack from Ryan Howard on a 2-0 fastball, a swing which resulted in a monstrous home run.
But Teheran will be back, and by all accounts, he's going to be good. Atlanta GM Frank Wren recalled the first time he saw the right-hander, at age 16, pitching in instructional ball at the Braves' complex in Orlando. "You could see that he was special," said Wren. "There's no question he has electric stuff, but beyond that, he looked like he belonged. There wasn't anything he was seeing or facing that fazed him."
Fredi Gonzalez thought he did a nice job.
• Derek Lowe said that the blister on the bottom of his right foot -- which may have resulted from him trying a shoe a half-size bigger -- began to bother him in the fourth inning of his dominant start Friday, and that he knew, even as he was rolling up hitless innings, that he wouldn't last. "No chance," he said.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. FYI: The Chicago White Sox baseball minds intend to give their team -- which generally drew raves in spring training -- more time to work through their early-season problems. The internal diagnosis is that the struggles are on the shoulders of the players, and not Ozzie Guillen or his staff, so there are no plans for major changes. The White Sox hope to ride this out, and they had a good day against the Mariners.
2. It might be time for the Padres to consider a trade of Heath Bell, writes Tim Sullivan. From the Padres' perspective, it's a no-brainer to swap Bell, at a time when teams are starved for relief and Bell would fetch a decent return on the open market.
3. There is a way for Frank McCourt to complicate his situation, Bill Shaikin writes, and parking lots are a key component.
Dings and dents
2. For the third consecutive game, the Rockies had their guts ripped out.
3. When it was all over, Bruce Bochy smiled wearily.
4. The Athletics got really mad, as they lost.
6. A very underrated part of what the Indians do is grind out at-bats, and they did that on Saturday against one of the game's best pitchers, Paul Hoynes writes.
8. From Mr. Braunstein, how Yovani Gallardo almost no-hit the Cardinals:
A. For a change, he was dominant with all pitches. Gallardo entered Saturday with a 6.10 ERA and opponents were especially hammering his fastball and slider. The Cards were 0-for-12 with four strikeouts on at-bats that ended with a fastball (.370 BA, .605 SLG entering the game) and 1-for-10 with two strikeouts against the slider (.316 before Saturday).
B. Location. Entering Saturday, opponents feasted on Gallardo's low pitches (.343 BA)and inside pitches (.303). The Cardinals were 0-for-6 on at-bats that ended with a low pitch and 0-for-5 on those inside.
C). He got ahead in the count. Of the 28 batters Gallardo faced, only two saw a 2-0 count.
8. The Padres were shut out, again. From Stats and Info: The Padres have been shut out eight times, tied for the most by any team through their first 33 games since the 1969 season. Good news for the Padres: None of those teams were shut out more than nine times the rest of the season.
Buster Olney touches on a variety of topics in his Sunday blog including how MLB is concerned that players are fraternizing too much, Justin Verlander's no-hitter, Chipper Jones' start and Eric Hosmer's debut.