The action this morning has been in the NL East, with the Nationals making an important bullpen addition and the Mets receiving some unfortunate injury news. Nats fans may also want to have a look at a profile of manager Dusty Baker penned by Jon Heyman of Fan Rag. For followers of other organizations in the division, here are a few more notes:
- Braves catcher Kurt Suzuki is drawing praise for his handling of knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, as MLB.com’s Mark Bowman writes. Dickey himself and manager Brian Snitker both said that the veteran Suzuki did well receiving the tricky righty in his first attempt in game action. That may bode well for his bid to carve out playing time, as the organization intends to utilize either Suzuki or Tyler Flowers as the primary knuckleball catcher. It’s not yet clear how the playing time will be allocated between the two backstops out of the gate, though that seems likely to change throughout the season depending upon performance. Anthony Recker is also on hand as an option behind the dish, but he doesn’t appear to have a clear path to a roster spot.
- Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com checks in on Phillies righty Jerad Eickhoff, who has continued to impress the club this spring. Asked about Eickhoff’s ceiling, skipper Pete Mackanin said that the 26-year-old hurler “is a pretty darn good pitcher right now” — an assessment that certainly is supported by his strong showing in 2016. Eickhoff is a notably hard worker, per Salisbury, who explains that he’s focusing currently on refining his change. The righty himself certainly isn’t tamping down expectations. “I think the sky is the limit,” he said. “I’m going to continue working, whether it’s being Greg Maddux-esque with command or having a good breaking ball, or throwing a changeup like Maddux and guys like that did. There’s always something I’m working on and trying to develop and sharpen up.”
- With Tim Tebow drawing his share of attention at Mets camp, though he’s working on the minor-league side, his comments yesterday drew an interesting take from Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. Having previously asserted that he intends to push toward the majors, Tebow struck a somewhat different tone, saying that his “ultimate goal is to be able enjoy it every day.” Davidoff argues that his tweaked stance ought to free fans to simply enjoy (or ignore) Tebow as a sideshow, rather than continuing to debate whether the former NFL QB has any future in the game worthy of the attention he has received.