The first full week of spring training is under our belts, and it feels good seeing the boys of summer back out on the diamond. There's been plenty of news to keep up with, and we're here once more to take you through a quick recap of the biggest storylines of the past week.
J.D. Martinez Officially Introduced In Boston
Martinez entered the offseason expected to be one of the prized potential acquisitions for teams that were playing the free-agent market. However, like many other free agents, he saw a quieter market than expected develop. One team that did seem to be continually interested was the Boston Red Sox. After months of back and forth "will they or won't they" speculation and some rumored "low-ball" offers, the Red Sox and Martinez officially agreed to a five-year deal this week, announcing it on Monday.
Astros Open As Win-Total Favorites
To no one's surprise, the defending World Series champions opened with the highest win total number of any team at the Las Vegas sports books. Westgate set the win total for Houston at 96.5, a full game ahead of the Dodgers and Indians (95.5) and two games ahead of the Yankees and Nationals (94.5). On the flip side, Vegas expects the Marlins to be the worst team in the league with an over/under total of just 64.5 wins set for this season. That's not necessarily a surprise either after the team traded their entire outfield during the course of the winter.
MLB Makes Pace-of-Play Changes
Pace of play has become the buzz phrase under commissioner Rob Manfred, as the game attempts to connect with a younger audience by speeding up the amount of time it takes to play a full game. In service of this goal, the player's association, along with the league office, agreed to a few changes for this upcoming season.
- Mound visits will be limited to six per team per nine innings.
- Between-innings breaks are being changed so that the first pitch of the inning comes right at the end of the clock.
- The timing clock used for between-innings breaks are also being applied to pitching changes.
- Instant-replay officials in stadiums will be given access to slow-motion replays to allow for faster decision-making.
We'll see whether these changes have the effect that Manfred hopes, but you can't say that the league isn't trying to fix what many see to be its biggest problem in connecting with the younger generation.
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