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Weekend Rumblings - News for February 25, 2023

Vinnie goes yard in the Cactus League opener.

MLB: OCT 05 Royals at Guardians Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Vinnie Pasquantino had a great Cactus League debut, smacking a two-run home run.

The home run was not the end of Pasquantino’s day. In his second plate appearance, he singled through the right-side gap of the infield, which may have been a groundout prior to the new shift restrictions. In Pasquantino’s third and final plate appearance, he walked on three pitches because of Rangers left-hander John King’s pitch-timer violation resulting in an automatic ball four.

“I did everything today,” Pasquantino joked. “… The best part was being on the field in front of people. Heart is beating a little bit faster. Got the competitive juices going, being ready from pitch one, that’s always exciting. To feel the dirt again. Good time.”

Sam McDowell writes about the new “raid the zone” mindset with Royals pitchers.

“It seems super counterintuitive to big-league pitching at the highest level, where you have to be so exact with everything,” Bubic said. “These are the best hitters in the world. Usually you feel like you have to be so precise. But just because the catcher is set up middle-middle, pitchers don’t hit their spot perfectly every time. Now you have greater freedom. If you do miss your spot, maybe it’s a call on the edge.”

Walk around the pitching half of the Royals clubhouse, and the responses to the concept are remarkably similar. This is weird, but, man, the data is overwhelming.

It’s why Sweeney makes it a point to package his messages with the stats to back it up. The players have quickly picked up on that about the entire staff — an instruction, and then the reason behind it.

David Lesky at Inside the Crown wonders if the Drew Waters injury opens up an opportunity for Nate Eaton.

I’ve kind of slept on the offensive performance from him that we saw in his debut last season. It was a small sample with just 122 plate appearances, but he hit .264/.331/.387. The walk rate was reasonable at 8.2 percent and he struck out a little more than you’d like at 24.6 percent, but he had a breakout game in early September and from that game forward, he hit .323/.386/.436 with a much more manageable 18.3 percent strikeout rate and five extra base hits in 71 plate appearances. Can he be a nice piece on a championship roster? I think he showed that it’s certainly possible. Plus, with the decreased distance between the bases, his speed (29.7 ft/s, near elite) can be a huge weapon for this club. And he mashed lefties, which fits really well with Isbel, who struggled against them.

Craig Brown at Into the Fountains considers Brad Keller’s attempt to refine his arsenal.

In the past, Keller’s bread and butter has been his slider. Normally, that is. Last year, that pitch was generally poor for him. It had less spin, according to Baseball Savant, and was a flatter pitch. Opponents jumped on it, hitting .265 with a .430 slugging percentage, the worst marks of his career. So while adding a curve and a sweeper especially will help play off the slider, he needs to rediscover some of that spin to get that break back. I would speculate that tinkering with the sweeper will help. We’ll see.

Bobby Witt Jr. gives back to his alma mater.

Former Royals outfielder Johnny Damon is playing for the Savannah Bananas.

Manny Machado is given an automatic strike for a pitch clock violation.

Astros pitcher Lance McCullers won’t be ready for the start of the season.

Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies had off-season shoulder surgery.

CBS Sports ranks the top 50 prospects in baseball.

Willson Contreras’ pickoff attempts could be a weapon with the new rules.

How you should interpret Fangraphs projected win totals.

Warner Bros. Discovery is looking to get out of regional sports networks.

Remembering Jocko Maxwell, the first Black sportscaster in radio history.

Tennessee suspends baseball coach Tony Vitello for an alleged NCAA violation.

Russell Wilson reportedly wanted to get Seahawks coach Pete Carroll fired.

The Pac-12 holds the key to further college sports realignment.

Light pollution is erasing the stars in the sky.

Is Marvel in a rut?

Cocaine Bear and the pitfalls of making a bad movie on purpose.

Your song of the day is Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson with Say Say Say.