Managers push for spring night games

Managers push for spring night games

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Washington Manager Dave Martinez actively lobbied for the Nationals to play more night games this spring.

He got his wish.

Of the five teams within the Nationals’ spring training scheduling pod only Saturday’s opponent, the New York Mets, will play more Grapefruit League night games this year than Washington’s six.

“I think it gives players a different perspective as far as getting ready because we do play night games and then turn around and play a day game,” Martinez said. “Even though it will be a different lineup, they can get their bodies accustomed to getting up after a night game and getting prepared, and getting ready.”

Martinez isn’t alone in his desire for later spring start times.

“I’d do them all that way,” Mets Manager Buck Showalter said.

Playing at night serves some practical purposes for Martinez during this condensed spring training due to the labor lockout.

It allowed him to watch Patrick Corbin, the probable Nationals opening day starter, throw his second live batting practice of the spring in the morning.

Corbin threw 42 pitches during three simulated innings, likely the left-hander’s final tune-up before making his first Grapefruit League start.

Then at night, Martinez watched newly acquired slugger Nelson Cruz ground into a double play and line a single into left field in his first game with the Nationals.

The team’s first four home spring training games start at 6:05 p.m. The vast majority of Washington’s regular-season games have later start times.

“Especially the last two weeks of spring, I always wondered why we didn’t play more night games just so that we can prepare our schedules,” first baseman Josh Bell said.

Improvements in stadium lighting are allowing teams to schedule more night spring training games.

While the lighting at spring training complexes doesn’t quite achieve the bright and smooth luminosity of major league fields, Martinez said the lights at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, the Nationals’ spring home, aren’t far off.

“They are some of the better ones,” Martinez said.

Third baseman Maikel Franco thinks hitting under spring training lights could offer a psychological advantage once the Nationals head north for the season.

“Maybe you feel better when you get there, you start to see the ball better,” Franco said.

RED SOX

Story to play 2B at Boston

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox have reportedly agreed to terms with Rockies All-Star shortstop Trevor Story on a six-year, $140 million contract that would bring him to Boston to play second base.

The deal, which was first reported by USA Today and confirmed by multiple outlets, gives the Red Sox a long-term answer at second, which has been in flux since former AL MVP Dustin Pedroia was first injured in 2017, and leaves Xander Bogaerts in place at shortstop. The team also has a backup plan on the left side of the infield if Bogaerts opts out of his contract at the end of this season.

Story, 29, batted .251 with 24 home runs and 75 RBI for the Rockies last season, an off-year that followed three consecutive years in which he received NL MVP votes. In five major league seasons, he has never played any defensive position other than shortstop.

MARINERS

Sadler out for season

PEORIA, Ariz. — Seattle Mariners right-hander Casey Sadler needs season-ending surgery on his injured right shoulder, Manager Scott Servais said Sunday.

The 31-year-old had an 0.67 ERA in 42 games last season, including a franchise-record run of 29 consecutive scoreless appearances.

Sadler dealt with inflammation in the shoulder last year and missed nearly three months. He returned in July and emerged as one of the American League’s top relievers. He frequently relieved Seattle’s starting pitchers and wasn’t fazed pitching with runners on base.

Entering his seventh big league season, Sadler is 6-4 with a 2.86 ERA in 101 games. His only save came in 2019 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

GIANTS

Boyd signs for $5.2M

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Left-hander Matthew Boyd signed a $5.2 million, one-year contract with the San Francisco Giants on Sunday.

The 31-year-old Boyd went 3-8 with a 3.89 ERA over 15 starts and 78 2/3 innings for the Detroit Tigers before injury trouble last season. He had season-ending surgery in September for a torn flexor tendon.

Acquired by Detroit in 2015 from Toronto in a deal for ace David Price, Boyd is 37-62 with a 4.96 ERA in 149 career games, including 145 starts. He had his most wins at nine in both 2018 and ’19 with Detroit.

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