Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez seems to be ahead of schedule in his rehab from Tommy John surgery, writes WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. Vazquez tells Bradford that he had a scare last week when he felt some discomfort in his surgically repaired right elbow, but the doctors informed him that it stemmed from muscle pain and scar tissue as opposed to any sort of notable setback in his recovery. Vazquez is already throwing to bases from behind the plate, though Bradford notes that it’s unclear if he’ll be ready for game action when games kick off on Feb. 29. Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes that the Rays’ focus on adding bats this winter will not only help the offense, but also help the pitching staff and bullpen by theoretically sparing them from so many close games. “When we’re playing in one-run games every night, it’s tough. It’s tough to piece together the innings and make sure that we keep everyone fresh,” president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said.
- There’s no reason to worry about Yovani Gallardo passing his physical with the Orioles, based on what Eduardo Encina of The Baltimore Sun hears. Encina also points out that though Gallardo turns 30 later this month, the righty has a strong track record of durability. Gallardo’s physical is said to have taken place around noon today, so the deal could potentially be finalized and formally announced by the team at some point this afternoon.
- The Orioles have been heavily connected to Dexter Fowler, though they’re also looking at other position player options, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets. Pedro Alvarez, who was rumored as a Baltimore target earlier this offseason, is still being considered by the team.
- The Red Sox believe that Carlos Marmol can be a relief force again after correcting a flaw in his delivery, WEEI.com’s John Tomase writes. Marmol’s already-shaky control was worsened by a high arm slot over the last two years, as observed by Boston director of pitching analysis and development Brian Bannister. If this theory is correct and Marmol can get back on track, the Sox may have landed a big strikeout reliever at the cost of just a minor league deal.
- The Yankees’ big three bullpen aces have drawn much of the attention this winter, though the rest of New York’s relief corps will also play an important role in the team’s success. To this end, Chasen Shreve will be a big figure for the Yankees, though his late-season fade is a concern, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Fatigue or over-thinking may have played a role in Shreve’s late-season struggles, though Brian McCann feels that Shreve was tipping his pitches.