Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez suffered a seemingly minor right knee injury during his winter ball appearance last night, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski says that Rodriguez merely “tweaked” the joint, explaining that “it doesn’t appear to be anything serious.” Still, it’s of greater concern in this case given that the young hurler missed significant time with an injury to the same knee last year, which delayed his start to the 2016 season. Rodriguez ultimately settled in and performed well for much of the season, but certainly the organization will hope to avoid any such complications this time around. The 23-year-old is expected to be an important part of Boston’s rotation plans, likely competing for a starting role in camp with Drew Pomeranz and Steven Wright.
Here’s more from the east coast:
- Braves outfielder Mallex Smith has also suffered what’s hoped to be a minor injury in winter-ball action, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The 23-year-old had previously been limited by an oblique injury, and aggravated that problem while playing in Puerto Rico. Atlanta decided to pull him out of action, cutting short his offseason work for the time being. Smith appears likely to open the 2017 season in the upper minors after making his MLB debut in 2016. He ended the year with a .238/.316/.365 batting line and 16 steals (against eight times being caught) over 215 plate appearances. Smith is largely blocked at the major-league level in the near term, and the organization is said to be interested in ensuring that he continues to develop by receiving plenty of plate appearances after a thumb injury limited him in 2016. (Aside from the above-noted MLB time, Smith played in just eight games.)
- While some still believe there’s a possibility the Nationals will pursue free-agent catcher Matt Wieters, Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com argues that it’s not a sensible fit. In particular, the Nats have shown a predilection for high-quality pitch framers of late, and Wieters doesn’t rate well in that area. With at least three viable options already on hand, says Kerzel, the Nats likely won’t tie up payroll to add the veteran.
- One player that the Nationals do have ongoing interest in is right-handed reliever, Aaron Barrett, Kerzel further writes. That dovetails with other recent reports, and certainly makes sense given the organization’s ongoing need to bolster its depth in the bullpen. Kerzel says that the Nats “have always liked Barrett’s power arm and competitive nature,” and surely also appreciate the fact that he’d remain controllable into the future via arbitration if he’s able to return to health after successive elbow surgeries.
- The Marlins have given signals that they believe the bulk of their offseason work is already complete, as Tim Healey of the Miami Sun-Sentinel recently reported. Miami doesn’t feel that it must have a southpaw in its bullpen, as the organization believes its existing righties can succeed against opposing lefties, and already feels that there’s plenty of pen competition in the existing mix. While it seemingly makes sense for the team to pursue a righty bench bat to pair with Justin Bour at first, meanwhile, president of baseball operations Mike Hill says that’s “not a priority.” It seems that the organization is interested in giving Bour greater opportunity against left-handed pitching in 2017. He has taken just 110 plate appearances against southpaws in his career, producing an anemic .223/.273/.291 batting line. With catcher J.T. Realmuto potentially available to spend some time at first, presumably reducing his wear and tear while opening some chances for reserve backstop A.J. Ellis, the Marlins do not appear inclined to dedicate a roster spot to a defensively limited hitter, though Hill said the team will continue to “monitor” the market.