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e on Lakeside Hammers, live on Sky Sports 2 on Wednesday from 7.30pm. Wholesale Jerseys China ' ' '

1. Detroit Tigers J. D. Martinez Jersey . Jose Bautista has been shut down for the season. Thats two straight years with under 120 games played due to various injuries and a declining OPS. Should Jays fans be worried about his ability to carry the team in the coming seasons? Jose Bautista hit .302 in 2011 while slugging 43 homers and driving in103 runs.  In 2010, he crushed 54 homers and drove in 124 runs.  He was a beast both years. He had become a player that no one ever dreamed he could. He went from being a utility man to "The Man." Unfortunately since then injuries have limited the games that he has played. Injuries have also impacted his performance.  His injured wrist last season drained some of his power in addition to costing him games.  A bad hip this season has hampered his ability to rotate his hips when he swings the bat. He is starting to feel like one of those players who just cant stay healthy. But the biggest reason his production has fallen off is because he just isnt as good as his numbers from 2010-11.  Those years were anomolies.  He will never again hit over .300 in a season nor will he ever hit 54 homers again.  He doesnt have enough quality at bats to do either.  He is much more like the .254 hitter that he has been in his career than the .304 hitter he was in 2010. Bautista will still be an important contributor for the Jays moving forward but he is not a carry-the-team type of offensive player.  You either have to hit 30 homers and bat over .300 or hit 45-50 homers to truly carry a team.  He isnt that guy.  The Jays and the fans need to reduce their expectations of Bautista moving forward to get a true read of their team offense, otherwise they will be disappointed. 2. Joe Mauer is on the DL with a concussion after taking a foul ball off the helmet. He is one of eight catchers to go on the DL this season with concussion-like symptoms -- its a growing trend. Is there anything MLB should be doing to help protect catchers more? There is a reason why catchers careers typically fizzle out by the age of 33. There is a reason why very few catchers win batting titles or home run titles. The job is brutal.  It is tough on any player to go to the gate for 162 games in 181 days; it is most difficult for catchers. The job takes a physical and mental toll like no other. Joe Mauer is one of only three catchers to ever win a batting title. He won in 2006, 2008, and 2009. The first catcher to ever win the batting title was Eugene "Bubbles" Hargrave. He hit .353 in 1926 while playing for the Cincinnati Reds. The next catcher to win a batting title was Ernie Lombardi in 1938 and 1942. It is amazing to me whenever catchers contribute offensively in an extraordinary way. Their bodies get so worn down over the course of the season. I had Mike Piazza as the catcher for my Mets teams.  He was the best offensive catcher to ever play the game.  It was difficult to build my team around a catcher because he needed more days off than any other position to allow his body to recover.  So automatically I knew I would be playing without my No. 3 hittter for 30+ games.  The more serious concern, though, is that I could lose my superstar catcher to injury. There is always a risk of a catastrophic injury like Buster Posey of the Giants suffered a few years ago in a collision at the plate.  There is a risk to the hands and wrists of a catcher because of the pounding they take receiving thousands of 90 MPH fastballs. Yadier Molina is currently sidelined with the Cardinals because of a sore wrist on his glove hand.  And there are risks of concussion because of potential foul balls and collisions. Some catchers are worth the risks but as a GM I would love to see my guy protected as much as possible. I dont believe that there have been more concussions for catchers this year than any other year. Our awareness of concussions has grown. Our diagnosis of concussions has become more expansive and the willingness of players to speak up about their condition has grown significantly. All of this is good. The next step has to be improved technology and equipment. The NFL is continuing comprehensive studies about player safety regarding concussions. The issues for catchers are the same as NFL players. Catchers need to wear better protective gear. I know some catchers have gone to the hockey mask style helmet but I dont believe that is enough. Why shouldnt baseball catchers wear helmets like football players?  Many college, high school and youth football teams in the States are making players wear extra padding outside of their helmets for practices. Why cant a catchers helmet have extra padding too?  I know there are weight issues and vision issues.  It is 2013; can someone please figure this out? 3. Atlanta has a huge lead. Should they be resting players or playing them to keep sharp heading into the post-season and perhaps risk injury? What is the right strategy? All teams with large leads in the standings are faced with this dilemma.  Should we play our guys and keep them sharp or should we rest them so they can be sharp again? The truth is that there is not one right answer.  In fact, there isnt a correct answer from team to team.  It is really a question that has to be considered for each individual player.  What is right for one player may not be right for another. This is where a manager has to truly know his team.  Some players may need a rest and recover physically and mentally while others may need to keep up with the routine of playing.  It comes down to communication and trust.  The manager and coaches need to listen to the players and how they feel.  Then they have to match those words to what their eyes are telling them about a players performance. Have you ever been really tired but you ignore it because you have a project to complete or you are really busy?  If at some point you decide to take a break and sit down for a bit, you can start to feel your body shut down.  You tell yourself you better get up and keep moving because if you dont you know you wont be able to get up at all.  That total shut down is what a manager needs to guard against when he rests his players. Typically for most teams and players some combination of rest and playing makes sense.  A player can be given rest without messing up his routines and rhythm. A manager would prefer to rest those who need it prior to the last week of the season if the standings allow for it.  This way the players are back in the lineup for the last five or so games before the playoffs begin to sharpen their skills. If it is a close call between giving players a rest or keeping them on the field, I would always keep them on the field. Remember; the playoffs automatically allow for some physical recovery as there are built in travel days in each series.  The players have the entire off-season to rest. Writing this has made me tired.  I need a nap. Fair or Foul Hip Hip Hooray!  The Pittsburgh Pirates (81-58) have clinched their first non-losing season since 1992.  What a thing to celebrate.  I guess that is what you do when you have lost so many games for so many years. They teased us a few times over the last twenty-one years. Even just last season they were 11 games over .500 in July only to collapse and finish 79-83.  I didnt want to believe this year and be disappointed again.  But it finally feels safe to believe that they will have a winning record.  They have to be able to win at least one more game.... Right? Actually, the Pirates have been a nice story.  They sit atop the NL Central as you read.  Whether they hold on or not to that they will likely make the playoffs.  They have delivered hope to a hopeless fan base. The Pirates pitching staff has the second best ERA in the NL.  They have lowest opponents batting average and have allowed the fewest home runs as well.  Their rotation has been good while the bullpen has been even better.  They have the second most wins from a pen and the second fewest blown saves.  Pitching has clearly been the key to their success this year. Offensively, they are middle of the pack in most categories.  They dont have extraordinary team power or speed.  They dont hit well in the clutch as evidenced by their .225 batting average with runners in scoring position.  In other words they have scored just enough to support their pitching and win games.  This is a formula that has worked for the San Francisco Giants over the past couple of years. Pittsburgh is a blue collar town with a blue collar team.  They have reenergized their fan base.  They are excited.  The fans think this is great.  Old time baseball fans are remembering the "We are Family" Pirates from back in the day.  Expectations have changed.  The fans are going to get greedy now.  A .500 record is no longer the goal.  Now its the playoffs and soon the goal will be a World Series. I want to get excited for and about the Pirates but I know the truth.  This team isnt going anywhere. They may hold on and win the division.  Sure they may make a run in the crap shoot that is the baseball playoffs.  In a short series anything can happen.  But they dont have the type of roster to sustain success.  So many of the young players have outperformed their abilities and the veterans arent this good.  They have track records that prove this.  I wish it was different but its not. Small market cities get excited when small market teams compete.  It gives them hope.  But it is very difficult for them to sustain success.  Just ask the Astros.  Give the Twins a call.  Check out the Padres. Sure Tampa and Oakland are on a decent run.  But they havent won anything.  And neither will the Pirates. Plus, MLB is praying that the Pirates dont advance deep in the playoffs if they make it.  They are a good story, but at some point a no-name Cinderella team lacks appeal.  The networks want a Red Sox vs. Dodgers World Series.  Fans wont watch the Pirates vs. Rays. So, good for Pittsburgh.  It is a good little story.  Clint Hurdle has done a masterful job managing his roster.  Neil Huntington has made some very astute moves as the general manager.  The players have played hard. All parties deserve credit.  They have found some success. Unfortunately it will be short-lived and it will fall short.  I hate to be so pessimistic because there is finally some hope but the facts are the facts.  They dont have enough impact talent and the talent they have wont be affordable in a couple of years.  So enjoy it while you can.  It may be another 21 years before they do it again. Steve Phillips was general manager of the New York Mets from 1997 through 2003, helping lead the club to a National League championship in 2000 and its first World Series appearance in 14 years. Cleveland Indians Jim Thome Jersey . Irving scored 23 points, Tristan Thompson had 20 points and 10 rebounds and the Cavaliers beat the Denver Nuggets 117-109 on Friday night. Los Angeles Dodgers Adrian Gonzalez Jersey . The Oilers come in having lost five in a row (0-4-1) and 16 of their last 20 games, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. . -- Lou Brocks shoulder-to-shoulder collision with Bill Freehan during the 1968 World Series and Pete Roses bruising hit on Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star game could become relics of baseball history, like the dead-ball era.Seven-time British champion and Belle Vue Aces captain Scott Nicholls gives us his verdict on the opening weeks of the new season. Nicholls returns to action in Wednesday nights clash with Lakeside, live on Sky Sports 2 HD from 7.30pm, and he offers a behind-the-scenes view into the Aces preparations...Its been a frustrating start to the season not being able to ride at our new home, but there was a problem with the base which was having an effect on the track and it just wasnt settling in. Combine that with the fact theyve had an awful winter and theyve just run out of time getting it done. I guess hindsight is a wonderful thing and if they could turn back time maybe they would have done things differently, but obviously they desperately wanted to get the track and the stadium ready for grand opening. It should have been an amazing event but the track wasnt right. Weather had got the better of them, the material was wet and they desperately tried to get the meeting on but it just wasnt right. Subsequently since then theyve worked on the track continuously. There had been too much damage done in trying to get things ready for the opener and they had to re-group a little bit. Theyve re-laid half the track again and that went down last Wednesday morning and they completed the track and the guys were out practicing on it in the afternoon.  I personally have not ridden on it but Ive heard good reports and the track has held up well. There are a couple of ripples but considering the track was only laid that morning thats great. For us it will be awesome to have a home meeting soon because its May and weve had no home meeting yet! Belle Vues new National Stadium It has been important to think about the long term rather than looking for a short-term fix. They had made a couple of attempts to try and patch things together so that we can try and race but Im glad theyve done the right thing and started it fresh. With stadiums its one thing that part of the grandstand is not totally finished but with a track if you start with it wrong its only going to go one way and you cant afford for that to happen. The fact that we have two huge bends there magnifies that but the simple fact is that you want a good race track for the fans and the riders. If you start with it wrong its never going to be right. With that in mind, the right decision was made and personally Id rather wait until our first meeting even though its going to be in May than rush it through and have a track you dont look forward to riding every week.Having a National Stadium is huge for the sport, the economy as a whole has been tough so certain aspects financially are tough but for speedway to have a massive boost like having a National Stadium is a great sign for the sport. It sends out a good picture to the media and the sponsors and potential business interests and things like that. To have a stadium purely dominated to speedway is also phenomenal, they can have a number of practice sessions there, testing and ttraining schools and thats great. Toronto Blue Jays Drew Storen Jersey. With the Poultec system happening with Kings Lynn trying to bring a wealth of younger riders through, its what we need so its come at a good time. Nicholls says having a National Stadium is huge for the sport I think its a track that is going to change as the dirt builds up and the material changes. In some respects at first when we had the initial practice on it, it was really slick. It was a similar shape in a way to Peterborough but then it has the banking and the banking changes it. As the dirt builds up and the material binds together I think it will ride a lot differently. Theres no question it will be a fast track when it settles down. At the moment with  it being so fresh, when I had the practice on it all they had done was desperately tried to get the track done, so there was barely any proper material on there and it was very slick on the turns but when that develops you will see the racing lines appear.With the sporadic start to the season for everyone, its kind of nice in a weird frustrating way that were only two or three fixtures behind which is bizarre as we are in May now and we have not had a home meeting! We can take a positive out of the fixtures really, as it has fallen in our favour a little bit with it being quite restrained so far for everyone at the start of the season with all of the rain offs, weve not got too much to catch up on. Nicholls has been pleased with his early season form (picture credit Hayley Bromely) Ive been happy with how Ive started but it has been very frustrating being stop-start but its still very early in the season. You just want to race back-to-back and get meetings in just to get comfortable on the bike and to think less about it. At the moment its a couple back-to-back then nothing for ten days and thats a long time off the bike when youve not ridden all winter but I know there will come a point when Im wishing there was a break later in the season, so I wont moan too much!On Wednesday, we visit Lakeside in front of the Sky cameras. I like all the tracks and Lakeside is a cool little technical track which is not necessarily the fastest  but you have to use your head. They have a strong side on paper and we know they will be strong at home. In the past, we have struggled there but generally I think a few of our boys have stepped things up this year and I think with more experience in the side we can go there and be more of a threat in front of the Sky cameras. Weve had a good run away from home, Swindon wasnt so good for us but we managed to pull some points back to make it more respectable. Out of three so far on the road to win two is a decent start.You can watch Scott and his Belle Vue side take on Lakeside Hammers, live on Sky Sports 2 on Wednesday from 7.30pm. Wholesale Jerseys China ' ' '