Cliff Lee became the latest big name pitcher to make his spring training debut with a new team yesterday. It was a mixed bag – mostly, but not entirely, positive. The good news is that he lasted the full three innings he was scheduled for, and he did it without obvious issues with the foot injury that he had been struggling with up to this point. It’s also pretty positive that he only allowed one run and one walk in those five innings. The problem is that he allowed five hits in the outing, and his control wasn’t exactly pinpoint throughout. It’s too early to panic, of course, and the Mariners just have to be relieved that their new toy isn’t broken, but we’ve been spoiled by so many good outings so far this spring that I guess I just hoped for more – especially considering how optimistic I am about the Mariners this year, and about their rotation in particular.
Louisville is killing me. I like their team and the way they run their program. Their coach is among the best there is – a short list. Their win over Syracuse to close the season was impressive and showed ridiculous toughness. This was a team that looked like they were going to enter the tournament in very good form. And then they went out and lost their first game in the Big East tournament – to an outmatched Cincinnati, of all teams. It was almost the exact reverse of their nice win over Syracuse as well – Louisville cruised to a nine point halftime lead, and then threw it all away with a dismal, lifeless second half. I still view Louisville as a tourney lock, but they didn’t make it easy on themselves, and they’ll have to be more nervous on Sunday than they should have to be.
Sticking with the Big east for a second, Notre Dame is obviously breathing a massive sigh of relief right now. They went into the tournament thinking that they were going to be facing Luke Harangody coming off the bench for limited minutes and limited effectiveness because of his injuries. Instead, he opened the tournament by leading the entire game in both scoring and rebounds – with 20 and 10 respectively. Needless to say, the team is much better, and much more dangerous, with Harangody in and effective. Without him they were likely a first round out. With him they may not be.