Spring Training, Day 17: Back home again on Planet Jupiter

So, somewhat appropriately I think, I’m back in Jupiter for the final stop of my 2013 Spring Training odyssey. This place really feels like home, which I guess makes sense given that I’ve lived more than a year of my life around here. I hit the Crazy Cuban for lunch and headed over to the ballpark for the Marlins and the Braves.

Kris Medlen pitched quite well before coming out of the game in the fifth. He was hit in the arm by a batted ball, and while it doesn’t seem to be serious at all, it would have been silly to push him.

Y’all know, if you read me with any frequency, that I’m not a “soft factors” kind of guy. I don’t pretend to know any of these guys’ character with any degree of certainty, even the ones I covered for a long time. I just think there’s too much that those of us who cover a team don’t know. We can get some read, but I’ve been surprised, positively or negatively, by so many guys over the years that I just think it’s safer to admit that I don’t know.

So, with that said, I don’t want you to think I’m holding Medlen up as a paragon of virtue as I write this. I _do_ think, though, he could be a star. I mean, obviously he could be a star in the baseball sense. The dude pitched 138 innings with a 1.53 ERA last year. He could be an All-Star this year. 

But I mean, he could be an off-the-field star, somewhat akin to how R.A. Dickey has taken off. Dickey of course has other things that make him noteworthy — the knuckleball and an incredibly compelling backstory. But Medlen, like Dickey, is almost disconcertingly honest and funny. He’s got a ton of personality, and an unusual personality. 

Maybe he goes out and posts a 5 ERA this year, and if that happens, nobody outside of Atlanta will notice. But if Medlen has another really good year, you’re going to hear a lot from him and about him, because he’s somebody that writers and TV and radio producers around the country will seek out. 

Today’s game in a nutshell: Medlen and Nathan Eovaldi were both quite good, and there wasn’t a lot of offense. Tyler Pastornicky walked, stole second, and scored on Chris Johnson’s single in the ninth to win the game, 2-1, for Atlanta.

Player of the day: That’d be Medlen by a hair over Eovaldi, since he didn’t give up a run. The Braves right-hander allowed two hits and no walks over 4 2/3 innings, striking out three.

Quote of the day: “I told him the very first time I threw a bullpen, I said, man, I feel like a [jerk] because I know you’ve caught Verlander before.” — Medlen on Gerald Laird

Miles driven: 18 today, 1645 for the trip

Miles run: still at 25 1/2, as I rested today following a rather embarrassing faceplant on the concrete outside the Braves stadium yesterday. Good times.

Up next: Tomorrow is my last game in Florida. I’ll be on Braves duty one more time, handling the beat for Mark Bowman as they play the Cardinals. It’s Joe Kelly against Mike Minor. But perhaps more important, it’s Joe Kelly against Shelby Miller, who will pitch after Kelly as they continue battling for the fifth spot in the Cardinals rotation.l

And, finally, the playlist:

In honor of my time in the homeland, a playlist of Florida artists:

Tom Petty, “American Girl”
Jimmy Buffett, “Migration”
Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Don’t Ask Me No Questions”
Bellamy Brothers, “Let Your Love Flow”
Against Me, “Baby, I’m An Anarchist”

-M.

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