What’s Happening in Baseball Today

The First Pitch: February 23, 2024

Play ball! The Spring Training schedule opens up with the Dodgers and Padres—two teams that will play a pair of early regular season games in Korea from March 20-21—getting things started in Arizona. The Dodgers start fast, notching eight runs in the first inning on their way to a 14-1 rout without Shohei Ohtani, who says he will try and get in at least 50 Spring Training at-bats before the start of the regular season. 

Four games, all based in the Cactus League, are slated for Friday; the Grapefruit League in Florida begins exhibition play on Saturday.

Nike and Fanatics have teamed up to provide new uniforms for all MLB teams—and nobody likes them. Among the myriad of complaints is that the players’ names on the backs look small—almost like those seen on knock-off giveaway jerseys—and that the pants appear to have a see-through appearance. (Also: There aren’t enough pants.) In his tour of spring camps in Arizona, union head Tony Clark has sounded the alarm that MLB needs to fix all the issues. A spokesperson for MLB says that the league is listening and that adjustments will be made to better suit the players.

Former batting champ Tim Anderson, who had an awful 2023 campaign at the plate (MLB-worst .582 OPS), at shortstop (MLB -worst minus-16), and in the proverbial boxing ring (being knocked out by Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez), signs a one-year, $5 million deal with Miami. The White Sox, Anderson’s team of eight previous seasons, declined a $14 million option on him for 2024.

The Pirates liked Mitch Keller’s 2023 performance so well, they’re giving the 27-year-old right-hander a five-year, $77 million extension. Despite an okay-at-best 4.21 ERA, Keller finished with a 13-9 record over 194.1 innings; it’s the most wins by a Pirates pitcher since 2019

The signing comes a day after an article in The Athletic slams the Pirates’ organization as “comfortable being mediocre.”

Kodai Senga, the right-handed pitcher whose first-year performance was one of the few things to go right in an otherwise miserable season for the Mets, will begin the 2024 regular season on the IL after he was diagnosed with a moderate capsule strain in his throwing shoulder. The announcement comes a day after Senga complained of having a fatigued arm. 

To quote a Mets fan on X: “Now we have Senga with a fatigued arm after months of doing…nothing?”

After a decade playing in MLB, Hyun-jin Ryu is returning to his native Korea to pitch for the Hanwha Eagles, the team he pitched for from 2006-12. The eight-year, $12.8 million contract is the largest ever, both in terms of years and money, for a player in the Korean Baseball Organization. Ryu will be 44 when the pact expires; between his time in the KBO and MLB, he’s posted a 176-100 record and 3.02 ERA.

It Was Whatever-Something Years Ago Today

1960: Two years after the Dodgers departed for California, demolition begins on their former Brooklyn home, the fabled Ebbets Field

1988: The City of Chicago votes to allow lights and night games at Wrigley Field. The Cubs were concerned that the continued lack of lights would deny them the future opportunity to host both All-Star Games and World Series contests.

You Say It’s Your Birthday

Outfielder of 1,519 hits Rondell White is 52; eternally-paid, six-time All-Star slugger Bobby Bonilla is 61; man hit by 50 pitches in 1971 Ron Hunt is 83. Born on this date is first Yankee African-American and 1963 AL MVP Elston Howard (1929), Hall-of-Fame Negro League pitcher Ray Brown (1908) and 1930s outfielder Roy Johnson (1903).

Shameless Link of the Day

These 10 pitchers were within an out, sometimes a strike, of finishing a perfect game; they couldn’t complete the deal. Find out who they are in our new addition to the Lists section.

To Whom It May Concern

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