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Morning Reading, NL East Style

Struggling a little for a reading list this morning; seems everyone is fixated on some sort of basketball tournament or something. Chico's driving to Lakeland, home of the Tigers, so I thought I'd throw out something on each of the Nats' NL East rivals for a start.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post says Mike Pelfrey has expanded his pitching arsenal; bad news for the Nats.

Cole Hamels may throw off the mound Saturday, says David Murphy of the Philly Daily News.

Chipper Jones' oblique injury -- suffered in the WBC -- is still bothering him, says David O'Brien (Rock Chalk!) of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

And finally, from the St. Petersburg Times' blog on the Rays, something you don't see every day:

The large wild boars living near the Rays' spring facil­ity in Port Charlotte have gotten a little more brazen, venturing to the entrance to the team offices and onto a practice field overnight, tearing up grass near the parking lot and leaving a few large, um, parting gifts on the ground. "We were like 'What is that?' " Rays VP Melanie Lenz said. "That was kind of an awkward call to the county, asking them to come pick up this enormous 'stuff.' '' Rays and county officials are taking "immediate steps to mitigate'' further issues, she said.

By Tracee Hamilton  |  March 20, 2009; 8:40 AM ET
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Next: Lineup vs. Tigers


In college I played with a guy from St. Cloud, Florida whose family owned a cattle ranch. For fun, he would hunt these wild boars with nothing but dogs and his bare hands. I accompanied him twice when he did this, and it was quite a site. When he spotted one, he would signal his dogs who would jump out of his truck, chase the boar, and pin it down by its ears. My teammate would then run up behind the boar grab it by its hind legs, an animal often 200 lbs. or better, and tie it up like a calf at a rodeo. The dogs were amazing animals with scars all over their necks and torsos.

Johnny was a borderline pro prospect when he arrived at school. The summer between his sophomore and junior years, he was hunting, and the dogs lost hold of one of the boars as he was running up upon it. The boar turned on him and chased him up a tree. Remember these things have very nasty tempers and tusks about a foot long. Anyway in the midst of climbing the tree, Johnny tore his ACL and was never the same. He ended up as a pretty good college SS, but never played professionally. He's a heckuva a cattle rancher still though.


Posted by: db423 | March 20, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

G'Day Mates,

... got a question for all you guys who've had playing or coaching experience.

... it seems to me that for the past decade or more, the roles of various relief pitcher positions - long man, set-up guy, closer - have become quite specialized.

... this year, we have Joel Hanrahan taking on the closer role, and my question is this: how does a pitching coach, or the manager, go about training a guy who not long ago had a vision of himself as a starter, to be an effective closer? There are clearly vast differences between the two kinds of pitching. Does someone show an aptitude for being a closer during his career, and if so, what would those attributes be?

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 20, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

So "county officials are taking 'immediate steps to mitigate' further issues" with the wild boars? Does that mean they'll soon be having a special on BLT's at cafeterias in the county's office buildings?

Posted by: greggwiggins | March 20, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse


I'll take a stab at it. The attributes would be:

1. A short memory.

2. An ability to attack hitters. Walks from a closer are killers.

3. Two good pitches. His stuff should either induce strikeouts or double plays. Your reliever should throw gas or have a really good sinker. Fly ball pitchers don't make great closers. This was Cordero's problem, although he scored very high on attributes #1, #2, and #4 (below). Since closers only face batters once a game, having multiple ways to get guys out is less important. One of the lines of demarcation between a starter and reliever is often the ability to throw a third pitch.

4. The ability to warm up quickly and throw four or five times a week.

Others will probably be able to add to this list, but this is my opening bid.


Posted by: db423 | March 20, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

You don't wanna mess with wild boars. Remember "Old Yeller"?

Posted by: frog7694 | March 20, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Wild boar is kind of an oxymoron, not unlike "very, very normal."

Posted by: BobLHead | March 20, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

RE: #4s #4. Some of that may be the product of the steroid era. Most of the publicity involving 'roids had to do with hitters, but one thing that they do provide is the ability to recover very quickly. If you notice, a number of managers have been working their way towards a less defined role for relief pitchers. Don't look for a wholesale change in the next couple of years. If you have a true shut down closer, it will probably still remain the same, but some time in the next 5 or 10 years, look for a return to the more traditional role of relief pitching (maybe even starters going into the 7th or eighth on a regular basis.

As to the "presents" being left by the animals in Tampa, I would request that the delicate folks involved take a look at the gifts provided by Canada geese on virtually every H.S. / Rec field in the DC area.

Posted by: Catcher50 | March 20, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Catcher50, I am 100% with you on the ubiquitous nature of "geese gifts" around here. These gifts can be found on recreational fields of all types and for all sports, golf courses, you name it. Virtually every shoe that I own which is used in an athletic endeavour has been the lucky recipient of a "goose gift" in the not too distant past. And that stuff's not the funnest to clean off.

Posted by: faNATic | March 20, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

... thanx to db423 and Catcher50, for your comments on relief pitching. I hope to hear from some others as well.

... as for the unfortunately-misnamed Canada Geese, please remember they are quite definitely equal-nationality 'gifters'.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 20, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

>The large wild boars living near the Rays' spring facil­ity in Port Charlotte have gotten a little more brazen, venturing to the entrance to the team offices and onto a practice field overnight, tearing up grass near the parking lot and leaving a few large, um, parting gifts on the ground.


Posted by: Brue | March 20, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

@ db423: Your bud Johnny sounded borderline alright...not necessarily borderline prospect though...

Posted by: TimDz | March 20, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

#4, thanks for the great story. You didn't tell us what you were doing while this was going on.
Thansk to you and BinM for the STI info last night. First time back online for me since then.

Posted by: utec | March 20, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse


This city boy was safely in the truck. After watching the other boars he had penned up at home charge the fences indiscriminately in anger and bloody the tops of their heads, I wanted no part of it.


Posted by: db423 | March 20, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I wanted npo part of it... except for eating the BBQ later in the day that is. Wild boar, or "hawg" as the locals call it, is delicious.


Posted by: db423 | March 20, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Marlins/Rays whatever.

Posted by: Bazz | March 20, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, I couldn't find a single interesting thing about the Marlins! So I cheated...

Posted by: traceeh | March 20, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Interesting stories, Tracee, particularly the boar one. It brings to mind a recent episode of Monster Quest where they were hunting the elusive Mega Hog. But I digress.

Hey, maybe it was a Peoria Javelina that wanted to play in the spring?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 20, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Marlins, schmarlins. The story was worth repeating, Tracee. :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 20, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I told my husband about the boar and he said that it probably just wanted to root for the home team.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 20, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Your husband is a funny man. I know humour and courtesy are the two virtues that have kept my marriage together. It appears you may have benefited from the same.

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | March 20, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

You are right on both counts, SlowPitch.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 20, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

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