June 13, 2013 in Sports

First pitch a long toss

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

A telerobotic machine was operated by Nick LeGrande in Kansas City, Mo., to throw out the first pitch in Oakland.
(Full-size photo)

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3: Strikeouts by Kansas City’s Lorenzo Cain in first three at bats before belting a tying, two-run homer with two strikes and two outs in the ninth inning. Royals scored in 10th to defeat Detroit 3-2.

12: Cincinnati’s winning streak at Wrigley Field following 2-1 win over Chicago.

From some 1,800 miles away in Kansas City, Mo., 13-year-old Nick LeGrande threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Yankees-Athletics game Wednesday night.

Into the glove of A’s reliever Ryan Cook, in Oakland. It was all made possible by a telerobotic pitching machine, and is believed to be a baseball first when it comes to ceremonial first pitches.

A first pitch from across the country — a neat new concept, indeed.

LeGrande is an A’s fan with a rare blood disorder called severe aplastic anemia, and the former Little Leaguer’s illness no longer allows him to attend games.

“That a boy, Nick, pretty good arm there, bud,” Cook said. “Congratulations, bud, you’re in the big leagues.”

LeGrande and his family, including parents Mike and Shari, were taken to a mini baseball stadium. It was constructed by Google at its Kansas City offices — a location close to LeGrande’s home and Children’s Mercy Hospital, where he receives treatment. Nick’s friends, doctors and former teammates were all set to be in attendance.

At the same time in the Bay Area, a telerobotic pitching machine was placed on the pitcher’s mound at the Oakland Coliseum to follow the teen’s movements. The technology allowed LeGrande to simultaneously throw the pitch and watch it happen from afar.

In explaining the process, Google said that LeGrande would use an Android application allowing him to control the movements of the robot in Oakland. That robot was equipped with a camera, livestreaming a view of the ballpark to LeGrande in Kansas City.

Clearing the bases

The San Diego Padres have recalled outfielder Jaff Decker from Triple-A Tucson and placed center fielder Cameron Maybin on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Monday, with a tear in the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. … San Francisco pitcher George Kontos has been suspended for three games by Major League Baseball, which said he intentionally threw a pitch at Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy has been banned for one. … Rookie Yasiel Puig was scratched from the starting lineup for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The team said he has a strained right shoulder. … Major League Baseball will hold opening day next season in Australia. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks will play a two-game series at the Sydney Cricket Ground on March 22 and 23.

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