Sun Spots: Spring and Winter


This week marks the second week of the Winter Olympics as well as the first week in which MLB players are arriving to camp. The culmination of four years of work and the beginning of a new season all rolled into one. Enjoy. As always, comments are welcomed!

College Ball

Palo Alto Online Sports reports: Palo Alto High grad and Harvard University senior Jeremy Lin has been selected to play in the prestigious Portsmouth Invitational in Portsmouth, Va., following the basketball season. The tournament, now in its 58th year, takes place April 7-10 and features the nation’s top 64 collegiate seniors who will play 12 games in four days.

Spring Training

Lyle Spencer of talks about Bobby Abreu and Hideki Matsui reuniting: Having experienced unqualified success with one former Yankees outfielder in 2009, the Angels went for two this offseason and landed another. Bobby Abreu, the club’s Most Valuable Player last season in the eyes of manager Mike Scioscia, arrived in camp on Wednesday and heartily embraced former Bronx bombardier Hideki Matsui, whose locker is three seats down in the home clubhouse at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Matsui’s one-year free-agent deal worth $6 million matches the total value of the contract Abreu signed last year right before Spring Training.  “I was happy [with the Matsui signing]— he’s my guy,” said Abreu, who signed a two-year contract with a third option year over the winter. “He’s a good guy, good player, a nice personality and one of the best hitters I’ve ever seen as a lefty with runners in scoring position.”

Bob Nightingale writes about Ichiro’s October aspirations on USA Today: Seattle Mariners All-Star outfielder Ichiro Suzuki isn’t predicting a World Series berth, but believes their acquisitions finally have them on the threshold of greatness. “I believe this team right here could be a great team,” Ichiro told Seattle reporters,  “chemistry-wise as well. Good moves make better expectations, and that’s what we have to play to. Before, in the past, I tried to have that feeling, whereas this year it’s more natural to be excited and looking forward to the season.” Suzuki, who is one season shy of tying Pete Rose’s record of 10 200-plus hit seasons, says he still would like to bat leadoff ahead of newcomer Chone Figgins. “He’s a great player and even if he weren’t to hit behind me, I’m just happy that he’s not on the other side of the field,” Suzuki says. “It’s great to have him on your side. He can become an infielder and an outfielder, and he is a great hitter. I can hit and play the outfield but not play the infield, so I think he’s got the edge over me. “But I can pitch.”

Ken Gurnick of writes about Hiroki Kuroda: Hiroki Kuroda survived the horror of a line drive off his head last summer and showed no mental trepidation climbing back on the mound and risking that it might happen again. What Kuroda still isn’t sure about, though, is a pain in the neck that returned during winter workouts. Kuroda now says the slight herniation in the disk in his neck—technically injury No. 3 during a disappointing 2009—as probably a whiplash result of the line drive off his head Aug. 15 in Arizona. “It’s hugely possible that was why,” he said. “The ball hit on the right side of my head and it was kind of whiplash. Where I felt the pain was the left part of the neck. When I thought the pain was gone, it came right back. I think getting hit in the head had a lot to do with it.”

Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe writes about Daisuke Matsuzaka: Finally, after all the frustration and all the drama, it appears that Daisuke Matsuzaka is ready for a little bit of honesty. Having derailed his 2009 season because of a groin injury that he declined to discuss with the Red Sox, Matsuzaka rededicated himself to conditioning this winter. And then, when soreness developed in his back last week, he actually mentioned it to his bosses. It’s a step for a pitcher with so much pride and so much determination to succeed that he has sometimes eschewed his own health for the opportunity to compete.

Carrie Muskat of writes about Kosuke Fukudome: In two seasons in the Major Leagues, Kosuke Fukudome has compiled a .258 batting average. In nine years in Japan, he hit .305, winning a batting title in 2006 when he hit .351. Heading into his third season in the U.S., Fukudome says his goal is to bat .300, and the Cubs are hoping that moving him back to right field will help him achieve that. Fukudome switched from right to center last year to make room for Milton Bradley, but now that Bradley’s gone, the Japanese outfielder will slide over to the corner for 2010. Marlon Byrd will handle center field.

Winter Olympics

Lorenzo Benet of People Magazine talks Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu: Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu remain in the medal hunt after finishing fifth and sixth, respectively, in Tuesday’s ladies’ short program at the Vancouver Olympics, but here are 10 things you likely don’t know the American teenage figure-skating tandem…Nagasu’s mother, Ikuko, who is in Vancouver, is recovering from thyroid cancer, and Nagasu would like nothing better than to win a medal for her, “as a token of my appreciation,” she told USA Today. She wrote about her mom on Facebook, describing her as a woman who “works overtime, clocking in at the restaurant and chauffeuring me to practice and events.”

Jennifer Graham Kizer of writes about Apolo Ohno’s mom: Ohno’s mother, Jerrie Lee, has actually been absent since the champion skater was very young. “Ohno’s father, Japan-born Yuki, remains a strong presence in his only son’s life,” writes Beth Harris for the AP. “Working as a hairstylist, he raised Ohno alone after the boy’s mother left early on. Not an easy task, either, with Ohno describing himself as ‘a kid who had a lot of energy and was out of control a lot of times.’ Their bond is more friendship than parent-child these days, with Ohno turning to his father for advice about everything in his life.”


Rafu Sports Editor


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