Tim Lincecum thought about the seismic shifts of baseball’s offseason, the ones that saw Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder migrate to the American League.
“I think it’s great,” San Francisco’s two-time Cy Young Award winner jokingly said. “I won’t have to pitch to them anymore.”
Baseball returned over the weekend as pitchers and catchers for the Seattle Mariners reported to spring training in Peoria, Ariz.
There’s been a whole lot of change since the Texas’ David Murphy flied out to St. Louis’ Allen Craig for the final out of the seven-game World Series thriller.
Tony La Russa is gone. Bobby Valentine is back.
And no switch was bigger than Pujols’ decision to split St. Louis for a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels. Add Fielder’s move from Milwaukee for a $214 million, nine-year deal with Detroit, and the lives of American League pitchers just got 75 homers and 219 RBI tougher.
“You have offenses that are going to let you know if your pitching is not up to par,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “There’s certainly been a sway to some extraordinarily deep lineups in the American League.”
The 14 AL teams have spent $776.8 million on major league contracts for players who became free agents after the World Series and the National League’s 16 clubs have committed $597.3 million. The NL lineup looks a lot less fearsome heading into the All-Star Game at Kansas City’s Kaufmann Stadium on July 10.
Seattle was the first to open because the Mariners start the season in Tokyo with a two-game series against Oakland on March 28-29.
The Athletics opted not to use the extra week.
“There’s only so much you can do in the days before games, and players tend to go a little nuts after too many days of PFPs and live BP,” Oakland assistant GM David Forst said, referring to pitchers’ fielding practice and batting practice.
Other teams start reporting Saturday ahead of the stateside opener, which features the Cardinals at the renamed and now rainbow-colored Miami Marlins on April 4 in the first official game at $515 million Marlins Park.