If you’re planning on keeping score to a spring training game, our best advice would be to make other plans. As fun as these Grapefruit and Cactus League exhibitions can be — especially when we’re getting our first looks at Shohei Ohtani — they can also be impossible to keep track of thanks to all of the moving parts.
Unlike the regular season, where each team is restricted to 25 players on the active roster, there are no limits in spring training. For every regular you might see in a game, there are two or three minor leaguers or camp invitees who could get an at-bat. When Tim Tebow and Russell Wilson are getting into games, it shows just how crazy things can get.
Actually, even their appearances don’t completely cover it. As the Los Angeles Angels showed us on Friday, it can actually get a little crazier and a lot more confusing when teams start running out of numbers.
While Ohtani was dazzling viewers in a “B” game against the Brewers, the Angels “A” squad took on the Chicago Cubs. It was there that manager Mike Scioscia played tricks on everyone, playing three different players wearing the No. 9 at the same time.
Three players wearing the same uniform seems like a first even for spring training. Two players? Sure, that happens quite often. Three though? That’s definitely too confusing.
Savvy baseball fans surely would have recognized veteran Eric Young Jr. in left field. Then again, maybe they wouldn’t have. After all, the Angels are his fifth different team in nine seasons, and No. 9 is the seventh different number he’s now worn. He wore No. 8 last season, so even Angels fans may have needed a second look.
As for the other No. 9s, center fielder Kyle Survance and third baseman Sherman Johnson, neither one has logged a major league at-bat. It’s no disrespect to them, but they’re basically camp bodies who are extreme long shots to make the team. With or without a scorecard, fans would struggle identifying them because they’re not yet on anyone’s radar.
Oddly enough, it turns out the Angels aren’t the only team pulling a fast one this spring. In Tigers’ camp, it was actually the team turning the table on the manager.
Ron Gardenhire’s in his first camp as the Tigers skipper, which is difficult enough. Considering the roster changes Detroit has made since Gardenhire last managed in Minnesota, he’s looking at a vastly different team than the one he knew. With a lot of new players around, he’s taken to calling everyone “Buddy.” Even the veterans, so pitchers Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann and Alex Wilson all decided to become Buddy.
Last week: Gardy says he’ll use “Hey Buddy” until he has your name down.
This week: pic.twitter.com/sljz91AzxS
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) February 19, 2018
The good news is it will be much easier to sort things out once rosters start taking shape in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, good luck keeping track of those lineups and scorecards, managers and fans. You’re going to need it.
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