The Giants used Johnny Cueto and Derek Holland to lock down the M's the first 6 innings, so we're talking about a rather dreary game.
As Max Povse has separated himself (in the Mainframe's motherboard, at least) Rob Whalen has separated himself as the #9 starter. His line was 3.0 ip, 4h, 2 r, 0 er, 1:3 CTL but as you can see by the ER he deserved better.
He throws his offspeed pitches with real arm action and deception, and gets a "parachute" action on them. His fastball is only about 89, but plays way up since he throws his offspeed stuff for so many strikes.
Certainly not selling him as a potential TOR, and his 7 IP in Seattle he got hit pretty good (in the middle of his emotional problems). But anyone who throws 46% of his pitches as secondary pitches, and throws them for strikes with such conviction, separates himself (in my mind at least) as a guy who might give you a needed 5 decent starts during the season. I enjoyed watching him pitch.
On the M's site, literally every. other. News article is about Ichiro and it's quite remarkable how much fun the players are having with his return. On Slack Chat they are kicking around this article.
In it, Jerry Dipoto points to Ichiro's second half last season (.299/.384/.379) and expects similar things as Ichiro plays 4-6 games a week or more. Intriguingly, Dipoto says that the best-case scenario is that Gamel returns early, Ichiro is playing well, and the M's go to a 5-to-make-3 outfield. Now, that's news.
It's also worth considering that Ichiro played more until last season (365-385 AB's a year at ages 40, 41, 42) until the Marlins wound up with a healthy Stanton, Ozuna (congrats Bat571) and Yelich, and was reduced to pinch-hitting. Even there, Ichiro came within 1 of setting a record for hits by a pinch-hitter. I enjoyed the following quote by Dipoto:
"Going through the physical with Ichiro from the orthopedic exam to the physical exam, we saw some of the most shockingly positive reviews in a medical that you can achieve," Dipoto said. "We're used to looking at players in their mid-20s who are very athletic people and Ichiro makes them all look like they're not taking care of themselves. He's an incredibly well-conditioned athlete."
His friend said "his eyesight is deteriorating and that's why he's facing the pitcher more squarely, as Mal pointed out, to get a bit longer look at the ball. Dipoto says,
"We weren't looking to carry that many outfielders, but I guess desperate times call for decisions you wouldn't otherwise have made. We are going to go into the season with five outfielders, with Ichi being one of them. And we'll see how it plays out. I hope we're in a situation where eventually we have to determine what we're going to do come May and June, but for now, we're just playing it out and we'll use the best players we can."
I'm gingerly placing my bet on Ichiro, playing 5 days a week, to hit the .280-.290 he did in Miami when playing fulltime, and his technique on defense should add a few runs there. My optimism is based on Ichiro being able to select 1-2 of his five ways of getting on base in 2008. But, we'll see. Ichiro could bang a series of balls to the 2B and be out of here May 1 -- which leaves us with a quality OF anyway.
Personally, I've got a posse going to Opening Day and I hope it's Ichiro in LF :- )
THIS N' THAT
Chase de Jong was sent to the minors. Permanently, we hope; let's not go through 40 pitches again.
My man Ichiro has a comment you can stick in your picnic basket and carry out:
"I think everybody has heard I want to play till I'm 50," he said through a translator at his introductory press conference. "But I always say I want to play at least until I'm 50. Make sure everybody understands that."
I personally think that when it comes to projecting Ichiro's forward performance, Ichiro's opinion is worthwhile. He's the one who assesses his ability to square up ML pitching and he assesses himself as having "at least" five years left. Worth thinking about.
In this Times article, Ichiro goes 2-for-3, or 3-for-3, against live pitching and declares himself ready to play in games. He feels there's nothing more to accomplish in non-game practice. This article has some video on it.
Not too much other than the Ichiro article on Slack, or we'd have some 'Frame crunching on it. Hint, hing.
I don't know if we posted this from Bill James yet. It dovetails with IcebreakerX's skepticism about Ohtani doing both things well at the same time. James sez:
You seem not too enthused about Shohei Ohtani. As an Angel fan I'm hopeful. One of my cousins on Maui is married to an Ohtani. Japanese/Portuguese. Not Shohei's family. Are you just skeptical about the hype, or do you have some inside information.
Asked by: mauimike
Good to hear from you. My view is, let's see whether he is GOOD before we worry about whether he is GREAT. What he is trying to do would be SO difficult--and he pitched only 25 innings in 2017, walking 19 batters. It seems to me that there's more noise here than music.