As a dominant AL East closer that relies on one signature pitch, the Orioles’ Zach Britton has much in common with Mariano Rivera, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark writes. Obviously Britton has a ways to go before matching Rivera’s incredible track record, though Britton’s sinker (which he threw 92.2% of the time last season) is already being compared to Rivera’s legendary cut fastball. Without fully explaining his secrets behind the pitch, Britton tells Stark about what makes his sinker unique, and also how he came upon the pitch by accident while trying to learn, ironically, a cutter.
Here’s more from around the AL East…
- David Price was re-examined by Red Sox team doctors today and the team reported that the ace lefty “has lost enough strength in his arm to where he is weaker than he was when he reported to Spring Training,” Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. Price still isn’t on a timetable to begin his throwing program, and thus Silverman speculates that Price’s DL stint could now stretch into May, as opposed to the previous theorized return date of late April. “You don’t really attach yourself to a calendar. You’ve got to listen to the pitcher’s situation, how his body is responding and what the objective tests are telling us. He’s getting closer to getting a ball back in his hand,” manager John Farrell said.
- Despite the recent spate of injuries to newly-acquired Red Sox, Dave Dombrowski doesn’t feel the team’s medical evaluation process is at fault, CSNNE.com’s Evan Drellich writes. “I don’t find anything that’s been abnormal this spring compared to any other spring I’ve ever been,” Dombrowski said. “We’ve focused a great deal on medical. But we’ve been doing that for years and we continually look at that all the time.” Price, Drew Pomeranz, Tyler Thornburg, Carson Smith and Hector Velazquez have all dealt with some degree of arm issues with joining the Sox since Dombrowski took over as president of baseball operations, though he argues that acquiring pitching of any type carries inherent risk. “With the sophistication of the medical industry nowadays, I don’t know the last time I’ve traded for somebody or signed somebody: nobody has a pristine arm,” Dombrowski said. “Nobody. I can’t even tell you the last time — it doesn’t exist. So you’re going to know that that’s just part of the equation. And then you have to weigh what type of risk you’re willing to take.”
- It looks like Rays shortstop Matt Duffy will miss Opening Day, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes that the club is still trying to determine a timeline for Duffy’s injury rehab. Duffy underwent Achilles tendon surgery on his left heel last September, and has been limited to just strengthening exercises and drills this spring, without any running and no baseball activities. Rays manager Kevin Cash implied that Duffy’s current problems may not be related to his Achilles surgery, which could be a positive in getting him closer to readiness.
- Steve Pearce declined to tell Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun if the Orioles were in touch about re-signing the veteran utilityman, though he praised the O’s for supporting his decision to undergo elbow surgery late last season when the club was in a pennant race. Pearce also noted that he decided to sign with the Blue Jays since “they were hard and aggressive” in their pursuit this winter. “As a player, when you have somebody who wants you that bad and they come after you, they don’t mess around, they’re not trying to low ball — as soon as we got to a number we got comfortable with and they got comfortable with, it was an easy sign,” Pearce said.
- In other AL East news from earlier today on MLBTR, the Blue Jays are close to a contract extension with manager John Gibbons, the Yankees will be without Didi Gregorius for roughly six weeks due to a shoulder injury and the Rays could still possibly trade a pitcher before Opening Day.