Dan’s Diary from Disneyball
While liquid sunshine continues to wreak havoc with spring training schedules, there’s no better alternative than writing about baseball.
These are the latest tidbits from the camps around the Grapefruit League:
- Andruw Jones, signed for only $500,000 by the Chicago White Sox, might turn out to be the best free-agent acquisition of the winter. Once the only man in Dodger camp fatter than Tommy Lasorda, he’s slimmed down by eliminating his McDonald’s diet and is hitting so well for the Sox that he might wind up as the Chicago centerfielder. It wasn’t that long ago that Andruw hit 51 home runs, a single-season Braves club record, and just last year he hit 17, including three in a game, as a Texas part-timer.
- With no backup plan to replace injured closer Joe Nathan (torn elbow ligament), the Minnesota Twins could do worse than signing 43-year-old John Smoltz, who once saved 100 games over a two-year span with Atlanta. He’d rather start, of course, but coming back as a closer would be better for Smoltz than being put out to pasture.
- Jamie Moyer, the oldest man in the majors, is still in the running to be Philadelphia’s fifth starter. His $8 million salary may have more to do with it than the stamina of his ancient left arm.
- The Mets can’t avoid injuries. No. 3 hitter Carlos Beltran won’t return until May and Jose Reyes, another critical regular, is out with a thyroid problem. Now comes word that Kelvim Escobar, a free-agent signee given $1.5 million even though he hasn’t pitched since 2007, is still not healthy and contemplating retirement.
- Media demand for the Yankees-Braves game at Disney World March 30 is so intense that Atlanta has stopped issuing single-game credentials for that date.
- Lance Berkman, the switch-hitting Houston slugger, proved sensitive, articulate, and well-spoken at ESPN Club, at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, when he appeared on AstroLine, a weekly Wednesday night show hosted by Milo Hamilton, last night.
- Spring training is a great place to find former players in uniform as special instructors. Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, and Ron Guidry suited up with the Yankees while Phil Niekro, Dale Murphy, and Javy Lopez re-joined the Braves.
- Trivia time: name the 15 Hall of Famers who wore Mets uniforms.
- Can’t believe MLB is considering realignment again. A better idea would be to forego interleague play and create balanced schedules within the two leagues.
- Wouldn’t be surprised to see the owners take a hard line, advocating for the imposition of a salary cap and elimination of arbitration, in their next contract with the Players Association. The designated hitter could be gone too — if the owners are willing to add one extra roster spot, expanding each team to 26 players.
- Ron Blomberg, the first DH on April 6, 1973, will host a three-hour WFAN radio show on alternating Saturdays starting in mid-April. He’ll have plenty of opportunities to eat the sandwich named after him at The Stage deli. No, it’s more than just plain bologna.
Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is a baseball writer and broadcaster. The author of 35 baseball books, he follows no other sport.