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MondoLinks: MLB Camps lead to madness every March

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It's March, the maddest time in sports, when Major League Baseball does the long and exciting windup towards Opening Day.

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Weekend-recap_medium

In the Heavens of Anaheim

Slow, School Zone: Anybody who fails to recognize Mike Scioscia here has either just fallen off the turnip truck, or simply refuses to pay attention. Garrett Richards is in overdrive to get himself back into the rotation as of Opening Day, saying "That's not going to change, regardless of what anybody in here says." Poor Garrett. Sosh is a man of process. He has roles and rules and methodologies. And that process states that Richards is not going to be ready for 2 or 3 weeks into the season. "He knows it. He's not going to be able to rush it because our medical staff is not going to let him. There's a progression. He has to pass every plateau. It's great that he's going to shoot for being ready by Opening Day, he's working very hard to be ready by Opening Day -- but he's not going to be ready Opening Day." I find Richards' eagerness to be admirable, but i am with Scioscia on this one...

On the Job Training: There is a seriously strong school of thought that, by the time they get to the Big leagues, players are who they are. Leopards don't change their spots, you can't teach an old dog new tricks, stats bear out that things don't change, etc., etc., etc. So, the corollary is that coaching is not much about teaching and instruction. So, against that grain comes the occasional story where the player fails to agree to the rule. Such is the case of Hector Santiago, who has spent a great deal of time learning how to recognize how he loses control during a game, and what to do to regain it. The results will have to wait to be seen, but let's adore the attention young Hector is paying to his craft.

Hambone Central: We still don't have word from the MLB Front Office concerning any punishment targeting Josh Hamilton, but it appears that if any suspension is to be defined, Josh would most likely start serving when the season opens. The reason that this needs to be stated is because there are some who would choose to calculate a suspension to begin after Hamilton would return off the DL. Nope. As some parts of DL duty and suspension would be served concurrently............Meanwhile, Mike Napoli is saying his prayers for Josh.

Shifty Eyed: Here is an unusual one. When looking at the infield shift plans for 2015, some odd factoids pop out.  The Halos ranked 15th in Major League Baseball in defensive shifts in 2013, when they executed 250 shifts. In 2014, they famously went whole hog, and ended up amping up their shift rate to 357 total. That's a 40% increase over the previous year, and yet they dropped to 18th in MLB for shifts in 2014!!  Because, of course, everybody else went shift-crazy, too. But wait, it gets crazier! Al that analysis and all that coaching and all that strategizing and all that signaling and running around for everybody to get into the right shift at the right time...didn't pay off so well for the Angels. "Last year, the Angels were one of only six teams that allowed a higher batting average on balls hit to infielders when they did not shift. To be exact, opponents hit .262 on balls hit to Angels infielders against the shift and .257 when the infielders held their ground." So with a new front-office analyst, and a new infield, a less-than-efficient result last year, and lagging behind the trend already, 2015 is going to be interesting.

Around Baseball

Texas Heat: Man, 2014 must have been tough in Texas. Not that I feel bad about that or anything. But when a Yu Darvish has to defend himself against accusations of quitting, you know things got out of hand.

NYC 2015 = The Year of What Would Jeter Do? Expect to get a lot of Derek Jeter references this season. From MFY fans, from EastSPiN, from John Carpino...you know. Hell, even from NYY GM Brian Cashman, who is obviously looking forward to improved defense out of the left side of his infield this year, after decades of under-performing. Cashman goes out of his way to explain to his new starting shortstop Didi Gregorius that he should not try to emulate Jeter, but just be himself. Yeah. Stop trying so hard to suck over there in the hole.

Freak Weeks: Spring is always chock full of weird and unfortunate injuries. Although not the first out of the gate, an honor that went to Chris Saunders of the Blue Jays taking himself out until the All-Star Break after stepping on a sprinkler and tearing a meniscus, we do have a new candidate for leader.  Chris Sale gave himself something called an avulsion fracture in his right foot hopping out of the back of his pickup truck, and will be out 3 to 4 weeks.

Denial: Matt Holiday is a man of confidence. And not a man of math. "Apparently when you get to 35, people want to talk about your age a lot more.  I’m not worried about it. I take care of myself. I think age is based on how you take care of yourself. I take a lot of pride in training and eating healthy and things like that. Some things you can’t control. But I feel good physically...I’m not worried about my skills diminishing. My skills aren’t diminishing. I’m anxious to get out there and play." Yeah, well, Holiday's slugging and on-base percentages over the past 5 seasons have both been plummeting. Thus, his combined OPS slide has gone 1.023 to .922 to .912 to .877 to .879 to last season's .811. That was still 19th in the NL (and would have been second only to Mike Trout on the 2014 Halos), so not bad at all, but that is still the very definition of diminishing.

Live Long, and Prosper: Ex-MLB reliever Joe Nelson bids farewell to Leonard Nimoy in a most special way, as his own career is brought back into the limelight.  Nelson had a special grip on his change-up that he named the "Vulcan change-up". "Nanu Nanu was nerdy and Spock was cool," Nelson said. "I didn't want to be Mork from Ork."..............While on the topic of losing legends, R.I.P. Minnie Minoso.

Closing: Having fun with picture day.