Spring training provides many opportunities for teams to interact with their fans, but it isn’t often that you hear about a club actually signing one. But the Yankees did just that for ten-year-old Landis Sims, an inspiring young man who miraculously has devised a way to play baseball despite being born without hands or lower legs. It’s a great story, courtesy of ESPN.com’s Andrew Marchand, and well worth a read. Congratulations to Landis on his opportunity in Yanks camp!
Here’s more from the AL East:
- Budding Blue Jays staff ace Marcus Stroman has impressed plenty already, but Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca writes that he’s working on taking the next step by tinkering with a quick pitch to keep hitters off balance. More notable than the new offering itself, perhaps, is the process behind it. “I always like to pick hitters’ brains,” explains Stroman, “and the biggest thing sometimes hitters say that messes them up is when pitchers change their tempo, change their motion, change their delivery.” Generally, the soon-to-be 25-year-old righty says that he “feel[s] extremely strong out there on the mound” this spring.
- While the focus on Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez has revolved around his transition in the field, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports that he’s also working to re-tool his swing. The surprising Travis Shaw is doing all he can to push Ramirez this spring, but Boston skipper John Farrell says he’s pleased with what he’s seen thus far at the plate from the veteran. His swing is “more compact,” says Farrell, “more of a line-drive approach.” Ramirez started strong last year offensively but faded to a substandard .249/.291/.426 overall batting line on the season.
- As Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes, Ramirez once wrestled with the decision whether to accept an early-career extension, ultimately accepting one with the Marlins. Now, current Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts could be facing a similar choice. While Bogaerts previously suggested that Boston had not initiated talks, his response was somewhat different when asked recently. “I would just say I’m working hard, and will keep working hard,” he said when asked about a possible long-term deal. “People who work hard get good rewards, so we’ll see what happens what happens with that in the end. I’m just trying to focus on the game now.” While it’s not yet clear whether serious talks are underway, or whether they will ultimately occur this winter, it is certainly interesting to consider whether Boston will make a real run at locking up the Scott Boras client, a former top prospect who broke out last year and still has four years of team control remaining.
- The Red Sox have a limited window to get enticing young lefty Eduardo Rodriguez ready to open the season in the rotation, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. He is staying off of the mound for the time being after recently suffering a tweak to his right kneecap. Boston is proceeding cautiously with a pitcher who is expected to be a key cog for years to come, and appears to feel good about leaning on its depth if that proves necessary. The 22-year-old contributed 121 2/3 innings of 3.85 ERA pitching last year, with 7.2 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9, and with 170 total frames (including his Triple-A output) he seems ready to take on a full season’s workload if he can return in time for a full ramp-up.