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World Series gets awfully hairy with wild beards


World Series gets awfully hairy with wild beards

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) This is going to be a very hairy World Series.

Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is looking seriously scraggly. Same goes for teammate Sergio Romo, whose facial fuzz has its own Twitter account. Tigers slugger Prince Fielder goes for a double - dreadlocks and an overgrown beard.

And not to forget injured San Francisco closer Brian Wilson. His dyed, jet-black thicket inspired a ``Fear the Beard'' campaign in the Bay Area and beyond.

``They're good beards this series - I think they're all good,'' Fielder said. ``My wife won't let me shave it off. She just likes the way it looks.''

There have been a bushel of beards, mustaches and flowing locks throughout the postseason, from the wild-haired Oakland Athletics to St. Louis closer Jason Motte to Washington outfielder Jayson Werth.

Superstition, busy schedules, hectic cross-country travel, there are all sorts of reasons for ditching the razor. Kind of like hockey, where playoff beards have long been tradition.

``Maybe people are just paying more attention,'' Wilson said. ``I think every postseason has beards, every sport they do the playoff beard. I remember watching as a kid all the playoffs, and guys would grow beards. It's kind of like when you buy a new car and you realize everyone has it on the road.

``It's facial hair. You either have it or you don't. There's only a 50 percent chance you're going to have a beard,'' he said.

So, who is sporting the best look this fall? That's a tough one going into Wednesday night's Game 1 at AT&T Park.

Romo's hair has the Twitter account of (at)RomosBeard. Wilson's growth has three different Twitter handles.

``We're just a little weird. We're a little wacky,'' Romo said. ``I just think we've got no shame. I wear mine confidently and I'm pretty sure he does as well.''

Wilson is still recovering from elbow surgery in April. Yet the quirky reliever continues to attract some of the loudest cheers from the home crowd.

Wilson can't remember when he last trimmed the beard. He figures it's been at least a year.

``He hasn't cut it in three years,'' fellow reliever Santiago Casilla offered.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean - he has a small beard, too - recently watched some old clips of Wilson from the team's 2010 run to the World Series championship, the year the right-hander led the majors with 48 saves.

``He looked very groomed compared to (this) look,'' Sabean said. ``As he'll tell you, the beard has its own checking account. Romo, Romo's tightened himself up. Pence, not so good, bad look. It's like `The Axeman' or something.''

Any other grooming critiques?

``I'm not going to get into other people's beards,'' Sabean said.

If Wilson were healthy and available to pitch, Sabean kids that the beard might get in the way.

``It's not as aerodynamic,'' the GM said. ``Maybe things would fly out of it and be a distraction to the hitter.''

All over baseball, facial hair has become a hot topic.

Last weekend, former Giants pitcher Brad Hennessey posted this as his status on Facebook: ``Pence needs to shave that awful thing on his face! Are u saying that it grows in all white trashy like that all on its own?''

Former slugger Frank Thomas has his strong opinions, too.

``I don't get it,'' the meticulously shaven Big Hurt said on the field before Game 1. ``It's always been the pitchers. The pitchers have always wanted that edge, to look a little crazy on the mound. You never want to look clean cut on the mound. They want to look tough, that's just what it is.''

Werth also had a good beard going, a fitting complement to that wild hair hanging from under his Nationals cap. His beard posts on Twitter, too: (at)JWerthsBeard.

The Athletics also made a good showing, with Brandon Moss, Jonny Gomes and fellow bearded teammate Josh Reddick pushing Detroit to a deciding fifth game in the division series.

Tigers reliever Jose Valverde has enjoyed checking out Wilson, Romo and the Giants from close range.

``Mine is clean, it's not too much. Those two guys over there have crossed the line already,'' Valverde said. ``Romo's is the one I like the most. I think Romo is perfect right now. Remember last year, it was longer. Romo is doing good. I don't know what's going on for Wilson this year.''

There are plenty of well-trimmed beards, too.

Angel Pagan's is neatly manicured. NL championship series MVP Marco Scutaro keeps his short, while Ryan Vogelsong, Hector Sanchez and several other Giants go with a simple goatee.

The New York Yankees, swept in a four-game ALCS by the Tigers, were the only team that didn't allow any hairy faces - in October, or any month for that matter.

Yet Yankees GM Brian Cashman recently had a fun way of describing the left-handed hitters in his lineup.

``They're typically big, hairy monsters, as I describe them, that hit the ball over the fence, hit doubles, singles, can hit home runs,'' he said.

Motte and the Cardinals got eliminated by the Giants in Game 7 of the NLCS. But during the series, he was confident that he could compete in a battle of the beards.

``Mine's awesome,'' Motte said. ``I've pretty much had it since 2009. I got called up at the end of `08 and I've pretty much had a beard ever since then. I just kind of let it grow.

``I hate shaving. I'm lazy. That's pretty much what it boils down to. Come postseason, I don't even try to trim it down,'' he said. ``At least during the season I trim it down a little bit and try to make it look somewhat presentable. In the postseason, I might as well let it all hang out.''

Some players wish they could join in.

``I have two terrible cowlicks on both sides of my cheeks, so I've got to keep this part clean, because it looks terrible,'' Tigers reliever Phil Coke said. ``I tried to grow a beard one time and that was the last time.''

Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum says he's whiskerly challenged. Now that the shaggy right-hander is working out of the bullpen in the World Series, some of the relievers would get a kick out of seeing The Freak with funky facial hair.

``Some of them can pull it off and some of them can't. It would be really interesting to see Timmy with a beard,'' Romo said. ``I'd pay to see that. He's quite the personality himself, so he fits already in there. He's got the long wacky hair on the top of his head and not in his face.''


AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.

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Managers in Nationals-Orioles series embrace shared history as they face off for the first time

Managers in Nationals-Orioles series embrace shared history as they face off for the first time

Brandon Hyde and Davey Martinez have spent countless days on the same fields, but Tuesday night was the first time they found themselves managing against one another.

Before heading to the nation’s capital to manage the Washington Nationals, Martinez coached under Joe Maddon with the Chicago Cubs from 2015-17. Brandon Hyde was also in Chicago during those years, coaching first base and then succeeding Martinez as Maddon’s bench coach prior to his hire in Baltimore last offseason.

While both figures are competitive enough to not need any added motivation against the opposing team, it’s still a fun moment for the two longtime friends to appreciate.

“Oh, he’s awesome,” Martinez told reporters in the visitor’s dugout before Tuesday’s game when asked about his relationship with Hyde. “I know him and his family very well, almost like family of mine. When we got in town we had dinner together, so it was kind of fun.”

Martinez went on to emphasize he knows Hyde will be playing to win, too.

“Obviously we both know he’s very competitive,” Martinez continued. “He knows that we want to win and he wants to win, so put everything aside. We’re going to compete.”

Despite the difference in records and team expectations in 2019, Hyde was pretty clear about his desire to take down his former colleague.

“Obviously me and Dave are very close friends and I wish him all the success in the world,” Hyde echoed during his own pregame availability. “But obviously I hope we beat them these next couple games.”

Martinez is not the only National to have a relationship with Hyde.

“Davey’s over there, Henry Blanco’s very close friend of mine, Joe Dillon the hitting coach I played with in high school, so I have some close relationships on that staff,” Hyde said.

Martinez knows the Nats can’t let their guard down against weaker opponents, Orioles included. As he put it, the Nationals “gotta come out and play baseball like we always do.”

And yet, even though each manager is putting his best foot forward to try to win the game, same as every other night of the season, it’s hard to ignore the unique relationship between the two.

For most, it’s just another night of baseball. But as Brandon Hyde put it most simply, “this will be a little bit different managing against Davey on the other side.”

Orioles-Nationals has yet to fully develop into a true rivalry, but perhaps a few more games that feel just “a little bit different” will help one blossom going forward.


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Max Scherzer feeling 'a lot better' but next start date is still up in the air

Max Scherzer feeling 'a lot better' but next start date is still up in the air

BALTIMORE -- Some pitching clarity was acquired Tuesday.

Erick Fedde will make a spot start Wednesday in the second, and final, game between the Orioles and Nationals. That bumps Stephen Strasburg to Thursday. Max Scherzer's next start remains a question.

The Nationals decided Strasburg would pitch Thursday once they put Scherzer (mid-back strain) on the 10-day injured list July 13. Moving Strasburg a day allows Washington to dispatch its best arms against first-place Atlanta during a four-game series instead of burning one against Baltimore, the worst team in the major leagues.

Scherzer threw Tuesday in the outfield and "said he felt a lot better," according to Davey Martinez. Next is a check Wednesday morning, then further work. Martinez wants Scherzer to throw a bullpen session before making a start. That could happen Thursday in Atlanta. If Scherzer throws a bullpen session then, he could pitch as early as Saturday, when he is first eligible to come off the injured list. 

Scherzer could also pitch Sunday in Atlanta. The Nationals can easily manipulate the situation once they have Scherzer throw a bullpen session. Patrick Corbin will pitch Friday -- receiving an extra day of rest himself -- then Anibal Sanchez would be on turn Saturday after an extra day of rest. 

If Scherzer is ready to go this weekend, the Nationals could have lucked into a position where they pitch all four of their best pitchers on extra rest against first-place Atlanta.

"It's hard to tell with Max," Martinez said. "Max always feels he's ready to pitch. I just want to see him progress."

One of the issues last weekend in Philadelphia was Scherzer's back problem did not improve from Friday to Saturday, prompting the team to eventually decide an injured list stint was best.

In the interim, Austin Voth, who pitched Tuesday, and Fedde receive cameo appearances. Martinez said in Philadelphia the fifth starter spot is "open" between Voth, Fedde and, more distantly, Joe Ross. 

"[Tuesday] I'm just worried about Austin Voth going out there and competing and keeping us in the ballgame," Martinez said. "Worry about [Wednesday on Wednesday]. Both of those guys are part of our future right now. We hope that they both pitch well."