AL Notes: Beane, Solarte, Bell, Harrison

Athletics GM Billy Beane may have outdone himself with his most recent round of immense production from unheralded players, writes’s Richard Justice. Third baseman Josh Donaldson, who has continued his torrid pace since seemingly emerging out of nowhere last year, stood out to Beane with his somewhat hidden elite athleticism and extreme competitiveness. Now, reclamation project Jesse Chavez is taking the league by storm from the mound. “We liked him in the minor leagues,” Beane explained, “and felt he’d never really got an opportunity in the big leagues.” While Beane’s much-publicized success with statistical analysis has required consistent adaptation to maintain an edge, he says that the club identified Chavez through the same use of “objective numbers” that drove the Moneyball era. “We’ve had to reinvent ourselves a few times,” he explained. “There were things we were doing 10 years ago we weren’t able to continue to do. To constantly solve the challenges we have is not easy. It’s very self-satisfying for all of us.” Given Beane’s comments on Chavez’s lack of opportunity, it will certainly be interesting to see whether recent addition Kyle Blanks is able to harness his potential with healthy, consistent playing time in Oakland.

Here’s more out of the American League:

  • If Chavez is not the most surprising top performer through the season’s first quarter, that is only due to the emergence of 26-year-old journeyman Yangervis Solarte, who sports a .907 OPS in his rookie campaign. The Tigers were keen to sign Solarte before acquiring Ian Kinsler, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. With Detroit assistant GM Al Avila reportedly a big fan of Solarte, the team had also unsuccessfully pursued him as a minor league free agent before the 2011 and 2012 campaigns. Solarte’s agent, Peter Greenberg, says that Solarte chose to go to the Yankees because the team had an easier path to a big league opening and ultimately gave him a relatively robust $22K monthly salary in the minors (with three months guaranteed).
  • Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette addressed today’s signing of free agent reliever Heath Bell, who will look to revive his career by starting over at Triple-A. “Bell is a proven veteran pitcher with experience who has agreed to a Triple-A deal,” Duquette told Roch Kubatko of (Twitter link). “We believe he can help our major league club later this season.”
  • Injured Rangers starter Matt Harrison will undertake an epidural injection in hopes of quieting the pain from his back condition, but the next steps remain unclear, reports Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest“It’s kind of put me in the position where either I deal with it or have the surgery and get it fused together and try to make a comeback from that,” said Harrison. “It’s going to be even tougher than it was the last time but I’m willing to give it a try. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what’s going on at this point in time and trying not to let it sink in that it may have been my last game.” Ultimately, while he clearly hopes to do whatever it takes to return, Harrison indicated that he would keep his long-term future in mind with the dangerous condition he has. “Obviously your health is most important but I know there are guys who’ve come back before,” he said. “I’m going to give that a shot if I end up having it but if I come back and things are the same or worse as they were before it’s not worth the risk. It’s really not worth me being 29 years old and not being able to walk.”

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