Phillies infielder Scott Kingery will look at spring training through a new lens

Phillies infielder Scott Kingery will look at spring training through a new lens

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Remember that episode of blurry vision that forced Scott Kingery to miss a couple of games at the end of last season?

Kingery went through a battery of tests and was found to be in need of a little vision correction in his right eye. He was fitted for a contact lens and spent some time this winter getting used to it. He plans to spend some more time this spring wearing it during workouts and games to see if it makes a difference.

Kingery said the issue was so slight that doctors said he really did not need the contact lens for everyday activity. But as a baseball player trying to track 95-mph fastballs and pick up the spin on big-league sliders … why not?

"I actually think it could help me at night," Kingery said. "I'll experiment with it this spring and see how it feels."

Kingery hit .258 with 18 homers and 55 RBIs last season but hit just .191 in September. He hit .247 in day games and .263 in night games. For the season, he had a .315 on-base percentage and slugged .474. His strikeout rate jumped to 29.4 percent last season, up from 26 percent in 2018. Maybe a clearer look at the ball will help.

The versatile Kingery played six positions last season. The blueprint calls for him to open the season at third base, where he played 41 games last season. Jean Segura is penciled in to move to second base, clearing shortstop for Didi Gregorius. Some have wondered why Segura wouldn't move to third so Kingery could play second base, his natural and best position. Well, Segura has never played third. He has played second and has told team officials he would be more comfortable there. However, it is likely that the Phils will take a look at Segura at third in camp, just to see if that might work.

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Toronto's 3-month shutdown doesn't bode well for any pro sport

Toronto's 3-month shutdown doesn't bode well for any pro sport

The announcement Tuesday that the city of Toronto has banned all public events through June 30 is not a good sign that games in any North American professional sports league will be back by then.

This is the longest-ranged shutdown any city has enacted, a span of three months. What is more likely: That only Toronto makes this decision, or that by the end of April many cities in the U.S. have followed suit?

Previously, we knew that MLB's regular season would begin no earlier than late May or early June. That is an optimistic target date. If the season somehow does begin by June, it will likely be in empty stadiums. This is going to be gradual. It's unrealistic to expect 30,000 fans plus hundreds of stadium workers to be carefree and packed into a venue in just a few months.

"If you have municipalities doing that, to me it's tough to open your doors at a ballpark," Jim Salisbury said on our Phillies Talk podcast Tuesday.

"You think, well, OK, play with no fans, but they need personnel in the ballpark just to get the ballpark open. These clubhouses are big complexes, multi-room complexes. You're gonna have an expanded roster of like 30 players, then you'll have guys on the IL, 10-plus man coaching staffs and video staffs and analytics staffs and athletic training staffs and there's even the guys in there nightly who do the drug testing. 

"Your clubhouse complexes are very populated. There's a lot of people in there, and you don't know where people are going in those 10, 11 hours that they're out of the ballpark. You have umpires and TV personnel. To me, those are still gatherings. I don't even know if you can play with nobody in the ballpark. I don't have any idea how this is gonna play out."

The Phillies were supposed to host the Blue Jays in April and visit them in mid-September. Toronto's NBA and NHL teams are both heavily in the playoff mix. The Raptors are the 2-seed in the Eastern Conference and the Maple Leafs are third in the Atlantic. Playoffs in both leagues end in June; how far could they extend this year?

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How Philly-New York trash talk led to the Oakland Athletics elephant mascot

How Philly-New York trash talk led to the Oakland Athletics elephant mascot

The Oakland Athletics were slated to visit Philadelphia in mid-June in 2020 which, for the A's, would have been a return to the franchise's original home.

But the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has Major League Baseball adjusting its 2020 schedule on the fly, so let's take some time to exploring a particularly quirky connection between Philadelphia and the Athletics' whimsical elephant mascot, Stomper.

You know, this guy:

Stomper dates all the way back to 1902, when professional baseball was still finding its footing, according to a neat little video on a slice of baseball from NBC Sports Bay Area.

It was a different time: Philadelphia had a team called the Athletics, and a man named John McGraw was managing the New York Giants. (Yes, the baseball Giants.)

McGraw, during a press conference, said he didn't think the Athletics' decision to buy up expensive star players' contracts was going to pay off, and said they would be left with "a big white elephant on their hands".

Famed Phillies owner and general manager Connie Mack laughed at McGraw's characterization, and decided to make a white elephant the Athletics' unofficial mascot. Eventually it became official, and before the Athletics and Giants faced off in the 1905 World Series, Mack presented McGraw with a white elephant statuette.

What an unreal Philly zinger.

You can watch the video from NBC Sports Bay Area below:

When the Athletics moved to Kansas City, the elephant disappeared (politics) but when the Athletics moved to Oakland in the late 1980s, the elephant made a triumphant - tri-unk-phant? - return.

I'm glad it came back, because now we have a reason to remember a sick 115-year-old burn. Connie Mack forever.