There were actual baseballs being thrown. So here's how this is going to go: New baseball stuff will go at the top, sign-stealing stuff will go towards the bottom, and interesting things I come across will go below that. So if you want to skip the sign-stealing stuff, you don't have to do it at the top. Let's get to it, I guess...
*Justin Verlander was scheduled to throw on Friday, but didn't, because he threw a 60-pitch bullpen on Wednesday and wanted some extra rest.
*Lance McCullers is looking forward to a healthy 2020:
I feel like I've put in a lot of hard work over this past 15, 16 months. I've come a long way, not only physically, but also mentally and just kind of where I'm at and moving to the season. I'm excited to get going again, obviously. I've had to wait a long time. It felt like a lifetime but here we are, and I'm very excited to just be able to contribute again to the team and not only run to the clubhouse to get waters and bananas and stuff like that.
*Zack Greinke won't report to camp until February 22 - a full week after all other pitchers and catchers. What's the reason, Dusty?
Other than he's Zack Greinke. I've got no problem with that.
Check this 2019 piece on Greinke and his disdain for Spring Training.
Baker, on Altuve:
That's Mighty Mouse. He's a bad little dude. He's one of the best players, I think, that I've ever seen. I was talking to him yesterday. I always wanted to win a batting title as a player. I came in third a couple of times and this dude has three batting titles.
*Austin Pruitt is positioned to make the back-end of the rotation.
*Brad Peacock has had a recurrence of the nerve damage in his neck. He's throwing at 90 feet, but his Spring Training is officially delayed.
*Forrest Whitley reported to camp 40 pounds heavier than last year in an effort to be more durable.
*ESPN has added a couple of Astros games to their April slate: April 7 vs the Mets, April 20 at Tampa.
*Forgive me if I'm a few days late on this, but FanGraphs revealed their Top 100 Prospects list. Forrest Whitley is the lone Astros prospect in the list, what with the graduation of Kyle Tucker and the Greinke trade. On Whitley:
He wields one of the deepest repertoires in all of the mnors and, though the elite-looking changeup he showed during the 2018 Fall League was not present in 2019, all of his stuff is still above-average or better, both visually and on paper.
Game 4 Hero Jose Urquidy came in at 101. Meanwhile, Urquidy was one of five pitchers listed by The Athletic's Eno Sarris as having the stuff in a small sample size to warrant a breakout season in 2020.
*Make sure you check out What The Heck Bobby's conversation with Astros Scout Jim Stevenson.
*Chandler Rome: The Astros are seeking a return to normalcy on the field. McCullers:
We apologized for it. I think you guys spoke to pretty much everyone on the 2017 team that's here in an Astros uniform. We meant what we said. We can't control how people feel yesterday or moving forward. We all addressed it. We all stand by what we individually said and we're looking forward to moving forward with a good 2020 club.
It's all in the past now. I'm hoping the players don't have to answer any more questions about it. Because how many times can you say the same thing? It's time for us to get to work, put it behind us, ask for forgiveness. The guys said they were sorry.
*Mike Bolsinger: Why I'm suing the Houston Astros.
*FanGraphs' Ben Clements: The hypothetical value of an ideal, frictionless banging scheme.
*Tony Kemp was asked to use "the system" when he came up in 2017 and apparently said no.
*Nationals GM Mike Rizzo:
Somebody's got to say the word over there - 'cheated' - and that's important to me. We keep skirting around the word, and they cheated. They were found guilty of it, and I haven't heard it yet...We did it with character, dignity and did it the right way. We feel good about that.
*Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki said the Astros were cheating in the 2019 World Series.
*The Athletic: New rules to prevent electronic sign-stealing are being discussed among MLB officials.
I'm a grown man in a situation that I can stop, and I didn't stop it.
*John Smoltz had a warning to players/teams/fans who are going all-in on the Astros hate, because it may turn out that they're not so clean, either.
*Trevor Bauer, unsurprisingly, has a lot to say about the Astros. A snippet:
F*** you. You know? That's how I feel about their whole operation, especially, especially when you're so outspoken against stuff. If you take a stand and you're so firmly against stuff, you better f***ing make sure that you're not doing the stuff you're talking about.
*The Hero Who Hit .143 in the 2017 World Series - Cody Hollow Man Bellinger - had some strong words to say, including that Altuve stole the 2017 MVP from Aaron Judge and "everyone knows they stole the ring from us." The Dodgers are ready to kick some skulls.
The Houston Astros had a distinct advantage over their opponents. That's a fact.
*J.D Davis - who denied having knowledge of the banging scheme in December - said that, yeah, he knew about it, and of course is very sorry.
*Jeff Passan: How Jim Crane's apology became a farce.
*Minor Leaguers are getting a raise in 2021. Minimum weekly salary by level:
Rookie/Short-Season: From $290 to $400
Class A: From $290 to $500
Double-A: From $350 to $600
Triple-A: From $502 to $700
*Esquire: The Secret History of Page Six
*The Danger of Befriending Celebrities
*21 Rhetorical Devices, Explained
*A Musical Selection: