The injury to Athletics outfielder Jake Smolinski gives non-roster invitee Alejandro De Aza a considerably stronger chance of making the roster, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. While both De Aza and fellow NRI Jaff Dacker have impressed the A’s in camp, De Aza appears to have an edge due to the fact that he has an opt-out in his contract at month’s end if he has not made the roster. Decker, meanwhile, does not have that luxury. Slusser notes that it’s possible that Mark Canha will be the only outfield reserve to break camp with the team, should the A’s wish to carry eight relievers (thereby allowing them to retain out-of-options righty Raul Alcantara), but that’d also leave them without much of a backup option in center field.
- The Mariners, too, could open the year with an eight-man bullpen, according to manager Scott Servais (as Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes). Edwin Diaz is locked in as the team’s closer, and he’ll be joined by righties Nick Vincent and Evan Scribner as well as southpaw Marc Rzepczynski. Servais listed Dan Altavilla and Casey Fien as candidates as well. The Seattle ’pen picture is a bit muddied by the fact that Steve Cishek will open the season on the disabled list and that Shae Simmons is being slowed by forearm soreness. Other candidates for the bullpen include Tony Zych, James Pazos, Chris Heston and Ariel Miranda (as can be seen on the team’s depth chart at RosterResource.com).
- Ailing Rangers right-hander Andrew Cashner had a good week of throwing, he told reporters earlier today (Twitter link via MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan). He’s set to meet with doctors on Friday of this week and added that he “should take off from there.” It’s already been reported that Cashner won’t be ready to begin the 2017 season, but an exact timetable for his regular-season Rangers debut is not yet known.
- The Astros have made an unorthodox coaching appointment, reports Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. Sig Mejdal, who was hired by the Astros in 2012 and given the title of “director of decision sciences” and more recently named a special assistant to GM Jeff Luhnow, will continue to fulfill those duties while also serving as a coach with the team’s short-season Class-A affiliate in 2017. Mejdal will be a “development coach” and be on the road with the team full-time when their season begins in June. He’ll help both the players and his fellow coaches to utilize the increasing amount of technology that is becoming available to them (in addition to more traditional coaching duties). Luhnow tells Kaplan that Mejdal, a former NASA researcher, will still be involved in all front office processes even when he relocates to upstate New York for the new position this summer.