Astros GM Jeff Luhnow addressed a variety of issues today with Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. He suggested that the club’s first base mix may not be fully resolved this spring, with the organization remaining open to making changes over the course of the season. He made clear that Houston won’t just be relying on metrics in reaching its decisions, but is paying close attention to how the various contenders look against advanced competition this spring.
- Meanwhile, Luhnow said, the Astros’ back-of-the-rotation competition may result in some bullpen time for one of Doug Fister, Scott Feldman, or Mike Fiers. But he emphasized that he expects “all three guys are going to end up making a lot of starts for us this year.”
- The Angels are hoping that reliever Al Alburquerque will be able to bounce back after a tough 2015, and improved health is one reason for optimism, as MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. Albuquerque says that he was hobbled for all of the spring and much of the regular season last year after contracting the Chikungunya virus over the winter. His fastball velocity steadily increased over the course of the year, and Albuquerque says he feels “much better” in camp.
- The Red Sox now seem all but certain to go without young lefty Eduardo Rodriguez to open the year, as Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. Though the swelling is down in his right knee, Rodriguez still hasn’t returned to the bump and manager John Farrell says there’s “still no time frame or date to get him on the mound yet.” With the club obviously exercising caution, and a full ramp-up still needed, it would appear to be surprising if he’s able to join the 25-man roster on Opening Day.
- In other Red Sox pitching news, Boston is hoping that the decision to shut down reliever Junichi Tazawa late last year will help him regain his form in 2015, as Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes. Generally a highly reliable pen arm, Tazawa seemingly hit a wall late last year. Now, pitching coach Carl Willis says he sees improved “late action to his pitches,” cleaner mechanics, and better location. The 29-year-old’s ability to bounce back will not only be important to the club, but will also determine his market standing when he qualifies for free agency after the season.
- Reversing its prior stance, the Yankees don’t intend to prepare Starlin Castro to spend any further time at third base this spring, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. He’ll instead focus on settling in at second base and preparing to serve as the reserve shortstop, says manager Joe Girardi. As King notes, that could open up some additional opportunity for Rob Refsnyder to make the team as a utility piece.