Good morning, Athletics Nation!
Technology is always moving, in baseball like everywhere else in the world. For hitters, that now means using virtual reality to study opposing pitchers.
That was the case for the Oakland A’s on Sunday. Matt Olson and Matt Chapman used “virtual reality headsets before the game to help simulate the experience of facing Cleveland starter Adam Plutko,” reports insider Martin Gallegos. Half an hour later they hit back-to-back homers off Plutko in their Cactus League exhibition game.
“Some of the other teams are using it extensively,” said manager Bob Melvin, via Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle. “So, just trying to keep up technology-wise.”
While VR has become a tool to help hitters, the equivalent idea does not appear to have the same effect for pitchers.
“I wish we had an ‘Oculus’ where I could do some pitching to hitting,” said A’s reliever Jake Diekman, via Kawahara. “But hey, whatever. We (pitchers) also win 70% of the time.”
Diekman says he's only used the virtual reality headsets to play ping pong, but he'd love to be able to use it more as a pitcher.— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) March 7, 2021
Don’t feel too bad for pitchers, though. There’s plenty of cutting-edge technology out there for them too, and advanced programs like Codify and Driveline have helped some hurlers boost their careers or resurrect previous stardom. And, as Diekman noted, they already have the huge advantage anyway, based on how much more often they succeed compared with hitters.
One natural reaction to these VR headsets is to look forward to the future when they inevitably become a common household video game. I look forward to one day straining my oblique trying to get around on a Liam Hendriks heater, and probably hitting my head on a light fixture while jumping away from a Chad Bradford submarine. Hopefully there will be an option where Bob Melvin throws you soft batting practice with a warm friendly smile on his face (dang I still grounded out to shortstop).
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MLB News & Interest
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- Today in Baseball History
- Spring Game #5: Matt Olson, James Kaprielian shine despite loss to Angels
- Spring Game #6: The most Mariners game ever, ending in a tie
- Spring Game #7: Matt-to-Matt homers lead A’s offensive barrage
- Healthy Matt Chapman returned to third base Friday and it was glorious
- A’s spring update: Jed Lowrie nearing debut; Ka’ai Tom still out with injury
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Excellent news! Although I do feel like this shouldn’t have required fan feedback and should have been an obvious call from the start. Was there doubt about fan demand for daily broadcasts, in 2021?
All spring training games now on A’s Cast! Fan feedback in action. https://t.co/RZPURDz9S2— Dave Kaval (@DaveKaval) March 5, 2021
... and we’ll see him at 3B again on Monday
Matt Chapman will DH tomorrow and play third base again the next game, per Bob Melvin.— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) March 6, 2021
“I hope they know that”
Kaprielian today: "I did all right. Obviously going 26 pitches in the 1st isn't something I want to do…The one I was disappointed with was Trout…I missed & I hit him with a fastball in. I'm not afraid to go in on these guys & I hope they know that…It was a good stepping stone"— Athletics Farm (@AthleticsFarm) March 6, 2021
Two walks in first appearance, zero walks in second appearance, so expect negative-two walks next time Holmes pitches
Grant Holmes @GHolmes_14 today: "I felt a lot better with my command today...I was focusing on just pounding the strike zone, not walking anybody...The 1st outing, I was missing away off the plate. Today I narrowed it in a little bit more & I hit the corners a little bit better."— Athletics Farm (@AthleticsFarm) March 8, 2021
I like the 7-inning spring games but not the mercy rule. What is the Cactus League for if not to let the minor league free agent take some high-leverage swings?
The A's had the bases loaded with two outs in the first inning, Cody Thomas had worked a long walk. Mariners rolled the inning before Carlos Perez could come to bat.— Shayna Rubin (@ShaynaRubin) March 6, 2021
Houston Astros pitching
Yes, this top AL West division rival warrants its own section today. Their pitching staff was plagued by injuries in 2020, and 2021 is starting any better for them in that regard.
They’re already down one starter, though maybe not for as long as feared.
Astros starter Framber Valdez may yet try to avoid the surgery that was initially recommended since it was expected to keep him out all season. Valdez, who suffered a bad break of his ring finger on a comebacker off Francisco Lindor’s bat, still has hopes to return this season.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 7, 2021
Then they lost another top young arm
MLB source: It has been recommended to RHP Forrest Whitley that he have Tommy John surgery. Forrest will get a second opinion.— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) March 7, 2021
However, the Astros responded with a strong addition
Right-hander Jake Odorizzi and the Houston Astros are in agreement on a two-year deal with a player option, a source familiar with the deal tells ESPN. The last big free agent is off the board.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 6, 2021
Best of Twitter
The Mariners are the soccer team of baseball
The Mariners have four ties in the last four days. Everton has four ties this season. Really have to like Seattle’s chances at advancing to the Europa League if they keep playing like this.— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) March 6, 2021
Cleveland players break quarantine for second straight year
Terry Francona confirms that Franmil Reyes and José Ramírez are away from the team for breaking COVID-19 protocols. On Friday, Reyes got a haircut and the two went to dinner and ate inside a restaurant. Tito hopes to know when they can return later today.— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) March 7, 2021
Former Angel goes to the Giants, not endearing himself to A’s fans
The Giants announced that they have signed LHP Jose Alvarez to a one-year Major League contract worth $1.15 million. The contract also includes a club option for the 2022 season that would pay Alvarez $1.5 million.— Maria I. Guardado (@mi_guardado) March 6, 2021
Can you name the eight AL pitchers and the five NL pitchers referenced in this tweet? The timeline begins in 1967, when the Cy Young was split into AL/NL versions.
As of today, there have been 11 AL Cy Young Awards won by pitchers that are now in the Hall of Fame.— Jim Passon (@PassonJim) March 6, 2021
From 1991 to 2002, all 12 NL Cy Young Awards were won by pitchers that are currently in the Hall of Fame.
Weird in so many ways
Everyone meet our new cleanup hitter, Hiam Lendriks pic.twitter.com/XxKzCDJhPK— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 6, 2021
Bauer pitches with one eye closed, because why not
If you’re like me, you couldn’t quite see what happened today, so here’s a recap. ☠️ pic.twitter.com/WrPQJbzmrv— Trevor Bauer (トレバー・バウアー) (@BauerOutage) March 7, 2021
Tomax and Xamot
Phillip Evans vs Evan Phillips— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) March 7, 2021
Baseball is the BEST pic.twitter.com/niSFQMZYPG
One of the better players in Oakland history, after a decade spent in CF
Uncommitted— Jake Diekman (@JakeDiekman) March 7, 2021
Class of 2036
No GPA yet
80 grade cuteness
Strong work ethic pic.twitter.com/p55HqNkZvq
OK this guess was bad and the contestant realized it a few seconds later