Diamond digest: Baseball’s top story lines this week

Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, front, is congratulated by teammates after a win over the San Diego Padres in a baseball game Sunday, April 10, 2016, in Denver. The rookie shortstop has hit seven home runs in his first six games.
Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, front, is congratulated by teammates after a win over the San Diego Padres in a baseball game Sunday, April 10, 2016, in Denver. The rookie shortstop has hit seven home runs in his first six games. The Associated Press

The first week of baseball season has passed. Here are five of the top interesting stories.

The top story is Trevor Story

Rookie Trevor Story kept reporters milling around his locker for about an hour Sunday while doing what a team spokesman described as his first big “monster workout” of the week.

So, he hit seven homers in his first six major league games without pumping any real iron.

Story isn’t your typical buffed slugger with the six-pack abs and the bulging biceps.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound shortstop generates his tremendous bat speed and powerful punch at the plate with a strong core and terrific technique honed through five minor league seasons.

“He uses his lower half well. That’s usually where it comes from,” Colorado manager Walt Weiss said. “The guys that hit from the ground up tend to have more power, and that’s what he does very well. He really uses his backside. Yeah, that’s where he generates. He’s a strong kid.”

Story capped his amazing first week in the majors by hitting his seventh home run Sunday and helping the Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 6-3 in Denver.

“It has been fun so far,” a winded Story said.

Three other players are tied for second with four homers.

The Associated Press

No 0 in loss column for the O’s

The last time the Baltimore Orioles got off to a start like this, they ended up winning the World Series.

It’s way too soon for the Orioles to be thinking about things like that because, after all, they’ve still got 157 games left. For now, however, Baltimore is the only unbeaten team in the major leagues after beating the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 on Sunday in Baltimore.

The torrid start matches the 1970 team for the best in Orioles history. After sweeping Minnesota in three games to open the season, Baltimore completed the homestand by taking two from Tampa Bay in a rain-abbreviated series.

“It’s still early. You don’t win a championship in April, but you definitely do learn to play as a team,” Machado said. “We’re going to continue to do that, hopefully.”

Baltimore’s starting rotation was supposed to be the team’s weakest link, but the group is a collective 3-0 with a 2.28 ERA.

“They gave us a chance to win, all five games,” manager Buck Showalter said. “If we do that we’ll have some fun this summer.”

The Associated Press

Two teams seeking first win

After getting swept on the road by Kansas City and Baltimore, the Minnesota Twins can’t wait to play Monday at Target Field.

At 0-6, it’s Minnesota’s worst start since the Washington Senators moved to the Twin Cities in 1961.

“We needed that one,” said Ricky Nolasco, following the Twins’ loss Sunday to the Royals. “It’s a little tough to swallow. But it’s a long season, so we’ll go back to Minnesota and get off the road here and relax and start winning some ballgames.”

The Twins started last season 1-6 and wound up winning 83 games to finish second to the Royals in the American League Central.

“Nobody ever wants to be in that situation, but we’ve been there before, so there’s no panic,” Nolasco said. “We’ve just got to tighten some things up and turn this thing around. ... A nice little win streak here and we’ll relax and get this thing going.”

Also looking for their first win is the Atlanta Braves.

Following a 12-7 loss to St. Louis on Sunday, the Braves are 0-5 for the first time since 1988, when they started 0-10 and finished 54-106.

The Braves lost every game on their season-opening homestand and now head to Washington to begin a two-city, seven-game trip Monday. The Braves lost two games to the Nationals to begin the season and were 0-10 at Nationals Park in 2015.

“It’s been a tough first week,” Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “We’ve got to take as many positives as we can. We scored some runs finally today. Hopefully we get on the road and maybe have some better luck.”

The Associated Press, Atlanta Journal Constitution

Cubs finally going home

The Chicago Cubs came into the season eyeing their first championship since 1908 after last season’s run to the National League Championship Series.

They still are, even if they are missing one key player. And the atmosphere at Wrigley Field figures to be a charged one when the Cubs meet the Cincinnati Reds in their home opener Monday night.

Sure, losing Kyle Schwarber to a season-ending knee injury stings. But the Cubs believe they still have the talent to contend coming off a 97-win season and NLCS run.

“We have very good replacements,” manager Joe Maddon said. “So it hurts, but there’s nothing you can do about it. ... I know it’s big losing a guy like Schwarber, but I think we have plenty of others to go around right now.”

On Monday, Jon Lester starts for Chicago (5-1) with Brandon Finnegan pitching for Cincinnati (5-1).

“This was a nice changeup for us to get to play in some warm weather and some favorable environments,” said reigning N.L. Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, who won at Arizona on Sunday.

“Obviously we’re all excited for opening day at Wrigley Field. It’s a special time in Chicago, obviously for the Cubs fans. … It’s kind of what you live for. To start a season off like we have and then going home to play in front of your home crowd is a special feeling.”

The Associated Press

Mets vaunted rotation vulnerable?

And to think, a little more than a week ago, Matt Harvey’s hyperactive bladder was the Mets’ biggest concern.

After Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Phillies, however, we’ve moved on to more troublesome issues, ones that can’t be fixed by a doctor’s prescription. Such as Harvey’s rather ordinary slider, and the sore lat muscle that has bounced Jacob deGrom from the rotation for an undetermined period.

For Harvey, this is likely to be an early hiccup, the 0-2 start and 4.63 ERA. It happens. He got beat by the defending world champs on Opening Night, in their house, and the Phillies ambushed him Sunday at Citi Field.

The deGrom situation is more unsettling. It was hardly surprising the Mets chose to skip him for the next turn, but a lat injury, no matter how minor the early diagnosis, must be treated with extreme care. Steven Matz missed two months last season with a lat strain, and until deGrom is fully healed, he’s only one tweak away from a more serious predicament.

For as talented, and as deep, as the Mets’ rotation is, elite pitchers are as fragile as they are rare. It took just one start to sideline deGrom indefinitely, coming after a spring training twice interrupted by different muscle ailments.

The Mets are among the World Series favorites this season primarily because of a rotation stocked with four potential aces (Harvey, deGrom, Matz, Noah Syndergaard) – and another, Zack Wheeler, on the way in July. But as Terry Collins was reminded in the very first week, having them all together, over the course of six months, is far from a sure thing.

“I could have told you that on Feb. 1,” Collins said. “That nothing’s guaranteed. In a perfect world, with no injuries, we have a good-looking pitching staff. But it does show you that nothing’s etched in stone.”


Compiled by Noel Harris