Cautiously optimistic on multiple fronts.
[Arizona Sports] D-backs’ Torey Lovullo on Ketel Marte’s position: ‘It’s a fluid situation’ – Lovullo said that the [Ketel Marte] will see time at shortstop, second base and center field in 2021, but that his time at each position will depend on how he fares in spring training. “I was the one that directed him to get most of his work early on at shortstop,” Lovullo said. “I feel strongly when I say that. It’s the hardest position to play in the infield, and you can’t get away with maybe cutting off angles or fooling yourself on a ground ball to say you were in the right spot. “You have to do everything right. So I wanted him to get that base down pat and then we’re going to move him to 2nd base and into the outfield.”
[D’backs.com] Notes: Marte works at SS; dugout protocols – Typically, just about every player in Major League camp is in the dugout at the beginning of Spring Training games. Then, at a designated time, the ones who are not scheduled to play will head to the clubhouse and be done for the day. Because of COVID-19 protocols, this year will be different. Only players who are going to play in the game will be allowed in the dugout. That will keep crowding to a minimum. Meanwhile, the players not in the game will get their work in on the back fields of the facility. “We’re going to let those players playing in the game get their work in so we can evaluate them and let the others improve on the back fields,” Lovullo said. “And then, there’s going to be a swap where the next day that whole group from the back field that didn’t play today will play tomorrow, and I’ll have to evaluate that way. So it will be a little bit more challenging.”
[AZ Central] Stephen Vogt’s swing adjustments withstand bout with virus – Catcher Stephen Vogt made his first appearance at Diamondbacks camp this week following a positive COVID-19 test earlier in the month. He was relieved to find that his swing still felt good despite the downtime. “When you take a break or go on the (injured list) or whatever it might be,” Vogt said, “that’s one of the biggest worries is that you’re not going to feel where you left off.” Vogt’s swing was of particular interest given the adjustments he made to it during the offseason. Like many of his teammates last year, Vogt went through a down season. He felt like his swing lacked “adjustability” — like he could only hit pitches down the middle.
Around the League
[ESPN] MLB’s noncompetitive behavior issues are now out there for the world to see – What Kevin Mather did last week was to effectively trigger a klieg light over a pitch-dark, rat-infested corner of baseball. Everybody in the sport is aware of the noncompetitive behavior present among many of the 30 teams. Everybody can hear the gnawing on good faith and on the integrity of competition. Everybody recognizes the financial manifestation, the enormous shift in dollars from the players to the owners. But when the now former CEO of the Mariners said out loud what almost no one has said on the record before, Mather fully illuminated a creepy part of the sport that fuels the players’ distrust of management — a part of the sport that even a lot of folks on the management side detest, because it’s antithetical to what initially drew them to competitive sports. This toxic part of the business needs to be excised in the next collective bargaining agreement.
[CBS Sports] MLB spring training: Four things to watch as games begin in Florida and Arizona – The Grapefruit League schedule has been altered to reduce travel amid the coronavirus pandemic. Spring training games were originally set to being on Saturday, but were pushed back a day after the league revised the schedule. The league and the players have worked out both rule changes and COVID-19 health and safety protocols for the season, and spring training will have a different look in 2021. Because of the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, fans weren’t permitted to attend MLB games last season until the very last rounds of the playoffs. This season, however, figures to occasion more of an atmosphere of normality in this regard. The plan right now is for fans to be in attendance at spring training games and regular season games, albeit in limited numbers and in accordance with local guidelines. As of now, the league’s plan is to complete spring training in its entirety and prepare for a full, 162-game season with 2021 Opening Day scheduled for April 1. As far as getting you primed and ready for baseball this year, CBS Sports has you covered with 10 crucial position battles for contending teams, four young players with something to prove in 2021, one breakout candidate from all 30 MLB teams as well as 10 storylines to watch for during spring training.
[MLB.com] Pujols’ decision? He hasn’t made it yet – After waking up from an afternoon nap on Monday, Angels veteran Albert Pujols checked his phone and saw he had dozens of missed calls and texts. He immediately turned on the television to find out what was going on, only to find out that his wife, Diedre, had sparked a frenzy by posting on Instagram that it would be Pujols’ last season of his storied career. His wife amended her post, saying it was only the final year of Pujols’ 10-year contract, and Pujols came away amused by the whole ordeal. He clarified on Saturday that he’s not ready to announce his retirement and that decision will come after the upcoming season, his 21st in Major League Baseball. “My main focus is on this year,” Pujols said. “That decision will come at the end of the year. I know what Diedre was trying to say. Everybody had to run with it, but, hey, that’s the life we live in with social media. At the end of the day, I told her not to feel bad about it, because I knew what she was trying to say in that post.”