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Sure sign of spring: Herd announces Grapefruit schedule

The Buffalo Bisons announced their spring training schedule Friday, a 12-game run against the Triple-A affiliates of the Miami Marlins (New Orleans Zephyrs) and the St. Louis Cardinals (Memphis Redbirds). They will be played March 17-April 1, with the six home games at the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla. and the other six at the combined St. Louis/Miami complex in Jupiter. Both are on Florida's East Coast. All games start at 1 p.m.

The Mets open spring training when pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 20. The full squad arrives Feb.  25. Players only on minor-league contracts hit town in early March. The Bisons open their season April 5 at Pawtucket and the 25th anniversary of Coca-Cola Field begins with the home opener April 11 against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at 2:05.

The full spring training schedule:

March 17 Memphis
March 18 at New Orleans
March 20 New Orleans
March 21 at Memphis
March 22 at New Orleans
March 24 Memphis
March 25 New Orleans
March 26 at Memphis
March 28 New Orleans
March 30 at Memphis
March 31 at New Orleans
April 1 Memphis

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

A Prince of a deal for the Tigers

No more carping allowed from anybody that no one can compete with the Yankees and Red Sox. Look at the stupid money this offseason: Angels (Albert Pujols), Rangers (Yu Darvish) and now Tigers (Prince Fielder).

I'm still trying to put my arms around Fielder's nine-year, $214-million deal.  The Tigers certainly were in panic mode when Victor Martinez went down and owner Mike Illitch isn't getting any younger at 82. He's won a lot with the Red Wings and I was told by several people at the World Series how downcast he was when the Tigers lost the ALCS in Texas last year. Sounds like he's just going for it now and longterm consequences be damned.

It makes the Tigers the runaway favorite in the AL Central and probably the favorite in the entire American League for the World Series. What a lineup with Fielder and Miguel Cabrera and, of course,  they already have the MVP in Justin Verlander.

Mitch Albom says the prevailing word is "Big" in his column on Fielder in today's Detroit Free Press. A good read. Be sure to read an Inside Baseball column I'll have in Sunday's paper. By then,  I should have my thoughts collected. That's a lotta coin. 

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

 

Larkin the favorite on Hall of Fame Day

The Baseball Writers Association of America announces the results of its Hall of Fame voting today and former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin appears to be the favorite to earn induction this year among a slew of other candidates. The results will be announced on BBWAA.com,  MLB.com and the MLB Network (coverage begins at 2 p.m.)

I do not have an official ballot (you must be a 10-year member of the BBWAA and I hit that mark in 2016), and this would be a tough year if I did. Every year from this point forward will be, of course, because of the steroid era. You can vote for as many as 10 players and 75 percent of the vote is needed for election. It's possible Larkin is the only candidate who makes it this year if votes get really split, and it's also possible a few others make it.

Here's a quick look at some of my thoughts:

Lock -- Larkin. He got 62.1 percent last year and is the best bet after a 19-year career with the Reds that saw him make 12 all-star teams. He could run, he could hit and hit with power and he had a great glove.  There's not much discussion needed. 

Stock -- Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines. I would be voting for all three but I'm not sure any of them get in. Morris, with just two years left on the ballot, is one of the toughest calls out there. He's got 254 wins but a 3.90 ERA. He's maybe the greatest postseason pitcher ever (and not just Game 7 in 1991) and won the World Series for three times (Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays) but he's still a longshot. Bagwell is the only first baseman in history with 400 homers and 200 steals and was a Gold Glover but is still dogged by unfounded PED accusations. The tide seems to be turning on him and I think he gets in within the next couple of years. Raines was the best leadoff hitter in National League history. Period. Is he hurt by playing so much of his career in Montreal? He shouldn't be.

Barrel (at least this year): Alan Trammell, Fred McGriff, Bernie Williams, Lee Smith. And those are listed in the order of who I think is most likely to get in. My prediction is none of them get the call in 2012 but all may get it sooner rather than later.

Not happening: Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez (PEDs), Edgar Martinez (DH only), Larry Walker (too many numbers at Coors Field), Don Mattingly (injuries, etc), 

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

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About Inside Pitch

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has covered the Buffalo Bisons since 1992 and Major League Baseball since 1995. A member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Harrington has reported on more than 30 MLB postseason series — including every game of the World Series in this century — and all three of the Bisons' championship runs in their modern era. He is a connoisseur of the famous Stadium Mustard at Cleveland's Progressive Field.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered the Bisons for The Buffalo News since 2002. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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