Here are a few notes from around the American League:
- The Royals are a legitimate threat to snag a wild card, says ESPN.com's Jim Bowden (Insider sub. req'd), because of the team's offseason focus on pitching. GM Dayton Moore had a seven-year plan to turn around the club through a gradual rebuilding process. While the club has developed what Bowden calls "World Series-winning position players at the major league level," however, the pitching never kept pace. Faced with a limited window to keep the young talent together, Bowden credits Moore for making bold moves to bring in Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana, James Shields, and Wade Davis to bolster the pitching corps.
- The Orioles may be nearing a decision point on Freddy Garcia, as the veteran pitcher will be able to opt out of his contract after his next minor league start, notes MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko. The 36-year-old has been solid thus far over four starts in Triple-A, where he sports a 2.81 ERA over 25 2/3 innings and has fanned sixteen against just two walks. Baltimore just sent down the struggling Jake Arrieta. His rotation spot went at least temporarily to Josh Stinson, who was bombed by the Blue Jays on Wednesday.
- The backup catching market could heat up as injuries mount. One day after the Yankees lost Francisco Cervelli for a significant period of time to a fractured hand, Orioles' backup Taylor Teagarden suffered a dislocated thumb. Both figure to be replaced with internal options for the immediate future. But their substitutes — Austin Romine for New York and Luis Exposito for Baltimore — have, respectively, just twenty and twenty-two largely unsuccessful major league plate appearances.