It isn’t actually spring yet, but what is technically still baseball’s offseason feels a lot like mid-summer at this point. There are all kinds of intriguing stories playing out all over the baseball landscape and it only gets busier from here. 2013 MLB rosters are being filled out in Arizona and Florida while the World Baseball Classic has plenty of early action as well. It’s hard to find a better baseball setting than one that sees Dale Murphy and Fernando Valenzuela throw out the opening pitches prior to a U.S.A.-Mexico contest. Here’s a little of what’s going on from the HotStoveHeat perspective:


SPRING TRAINING INJURIES –  Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira are both hurting for the Yankees and they’re not the only ones missing time this spring. Jays 3B Brett Lawrie, Mariners prospect Stefen Romero and Brewers OF Corey Hart have all been dinged  up while trying to get ready for the 2013 season, as well as many others. That’s part of the deal as MLB tries to break out of the long, cold winter.

WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC NOTES – As I noted previously, I wasn’t sure what I would do with the WBC in the way of commenting, but there are a couple of noteworthy developments so far. Italy is, obviously, a revelation as they have gone 2-0 in the second round with almost nobody we’ve heard of playing for them. That’s a nice touch. I’m not sure what it means but it’s always enjoyable to have an out-of-nowhere story line in a big event like this.

Also, tonight saw a highly-charged matchup between the U.S. and Mexico from Chase Field in Arizona. Mexico was in control throughout and won 5-2 and there was partisan support as the live experience was reported to be close to a Caribbean World Series feel. Aside from that, R.A. Dickey got knocked around by the Mexican club as he gave up 4 runs on 6 hits over 4 innings while Mexico’s starter gave up just 1 run over 3 1/3 and got great support from six relievers. I saw a Spring Training game last weekend where Dickey and the Jays faced Cliff Lee and the Phillies and both of the big-name starters got hit pretty hard. Dickey gave up 4 hits and 3 runs that night and when Philly was scoring off of him it looked a lot like batting practice. I know he is a marvel with an 85 mph knuckleball, but the stuff I saw from him that night was very hittable and Philadelphia’s spring lineup took advantage. Tonight wasn’t much better. I’m still not sure what value to place on these WBC results but I am starting to think they rank a little closer to the Spring Training contests than they are supposed to be. More to come on that.