As the United States celebrates one of its greatest heroes, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., it’s worth remembering that his cause, and even his own story, have many links with baseball. The wonderful Negro League Museum, which captures a uniquely compelling and important segment of American and baseball history, provides some incredible photos to drive this point home today (Twitter links). MLB.com’s Mike Bertha explores those connections in honor of King. And as Examiner.com reminds us, you’ll want to revisit this Time story featuring a King anecdote from legendary Dodgers hurler Don Newcombe.
The threads of history extend everywhere, of course; as Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explores, Pirates reliever Tony Watson’s great uncle, Tom Offenburger, served as an aide to King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. On this somber but grateful day, here are some notes from the game’s central divisions:
- A pre-season trade of Brewers backstop Jonathan Lucroy appears to be increasingly unlikely, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel suggests (Twitter links). Milwaukee has put a justifiably steep price tag on the veteran, says Haudricourt, and it seems that “has scared off suitors.” Of course, it’s probably fair to add that the situation still warrants attention this spring. A strong Cactus League showing from Lucroy and/or a key injury for a contender could quickly shift the balance of considerations.
- There’s no getting around the fact that some of the Cardinals’ most important players are getting up in years, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, but that aging core still has plenty of confidence entering 2016. “Nobody likes being called old, right?” said veteran right-hander Adam Wainwright. “But I think they’re right, for the most part. We are aging. We’re just becoming more wise. Somebody has to get old. If we’re still playing and older it means we still have some ability.” As Wainwright and owner Bill DeWitt Jr. rightly point out, too, it isn’t as if the organization lacks for any talented, younger players on its major league roster. Still, St. Louis remains one of the more interesting clubs to watch as it tries to defend its N.L. Central crown against two strong challengers in the Pirates and Cubs.
- Indians lefty Brady Aiken is excited to be back on the bump, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. The high-ceiling youngster, who famously failed to sign with the Astros as the top overall pick before landing in Cleveland after being taken 17th overall last year, is still on a Tommy John rehab program but threw his first pitches from the mound last week. Both team and player have positive vibes from his first months in the organization, per the report, but the 19-year-old obviously has a long way to go both to regain his full physical health and then to start the grinding climb toward the majors.