Josh Donaldson’s incredible 2015 season earned him American League MVP honors and made him a household name, but ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick profiles the Blue Jays third baseman and the level of preparation that made it possible for him to reach those heights. Newly acquired teammate Drew Storen tells Crasnick that he’s floored by the detail that Donaldson put into preparing for the season from day one of Spring Training, and Crasnick spoke to an NL exec that offered similar amazement at Donaldson’s consistent level of effort. “You never see him mail it in,” said the official. “He’s always on, even when you say he shouldn’t be on today. Day game after a night game, or they’re up 8-2 and you think he’s going to give the last at-bat away. He doesn’t do that. He doesn’t give anything away.” Donaldson’s reputation and character played a role in now-former Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos’ original pursuit of the third baseman, Crasnick writes, and that same emphasis on character also played a heavy role in Toronto’s signing of Russell Martin.
Here’s more from the AL East…
- Red Sox right-hander Carson Smith is nearing a return, writes WEEI.com’s Ryan Hannable. Smith is slated to appear in extended Spring Training games on Friday and Saturday, and following that pair of appearances he’ll head out on a minor league rehab assignment early next week (barring any form of setback, of course). The Sox picked up Smith in the trade that sent left-hander Wade Miley to the Mariners and will be counting on him to pair with Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel in what, on paper, should be a dominant trio of relievers.
- While Bryce Harper and Mike Trout receive plenty of adulation as the game’s most exciting young stars, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes that Orioles third baseman Manny Machado should be right alongside that duo. Machado’s evolution into a legitimate slugger last season has him in an elite tier alongside Harper, Trout and Donaldson across the past calendar year. Machado, Cameron writes, is now hitting like Miguel Cabrera while also contributing Gold Glove defense, and even if he doesn’t grab as many headlines as other young stars in the game, he’s secured his place among the elite.
- Brian Matusz is slated to come off the disabled list on Saturday, writes MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli, and right-hander Kevin Gausman might not be far behind. Gausman could join the club early next week, Ghiroli writes. The pair of additions will likely cost the Orioles some length in their bullpen, Ghiroli writes, as skipper Buck Showalter said that he won’t use Matusz in a multi-inning role. Ghiroli notes that each of Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson, Mychal Givens and T.J. McFarland have minor league options remaining, though it’s certainly difficult to see Givens being optioned.