The Rays are likely to continue with first baseman Brad Miller, which would seem to rule out potential pursuits for either free agent Adam Lind or just-designated Twin Kennys Vargas, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. It’s unclear, though, whether Miller will primarily occupy first, second base or the designated hitter spot this season, Topkin adds. Miller on Saturday saw his first action since Feb. 23 (he was out with a toe injury), so he may not be ready for Opening Day. He also struggled mightily a year ago (.201/.327/.337 across 407 plate appearances) and is on an arbitration awarded salary of $4.5MM that the Rays would be able to escape without much consequence prior to the season. Nevertheless, it seems they’ll stick with Miller.
More from around the AL…
- Shoulder inflammation has troubled Blue Jays star Marcus Stroman this spring, but the right-hander told reporters Saturday that he’ll be available during the team’s first turn through the rotation this year. After throwing a pair of scoreless frames Saturday in his first spring outing of the year, Stroman said (via ESPN.com): “I thought [Saturday’s game] went really well. I’m ready to rock — just progress over the next two starts and looking forward to pitching against the Yankees on [April 1].” Needless to say, that’s welcome news for the Jays, for whom Stroman delivered 201 highly effective innings in 2017 (3.09 ERA), thanks in part to an excellent 62.1 percent groundball rate.
- Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury stands “a strong chance” to begin the season on the disabled list, George A. King III of the New York Post writes. Ellsbury has been battling an oblique injury that has kept him out since March 1. The Yankees are, of course, built to go without him, given the presences of fellow outfielders Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks. Their other outfield role may well go to young utilityman Tyler Wade to start 2018, King suggests.
- Whether he begins the season in the majors or at Triple-A, Tigers left-hander Daniel Norris will continue to work as a starter, general manager Al Avila informed Katie Strang of The Athletic (subscription required). “Right now, I would say, for me that’s not in his future,” Avila said when asked if Norris could fill a relief role. “Because we all believe he is a starting pitcher.” The 24-year-old Norris is competing for a job in a Tigers rotation mix that lacks certainty beyond Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann and Francisco Liriano. Mike Fiers, whom the Tigers signed in free agency with the idea that he’d occupy a starting spot, has “been bad” this spring, in part because he’s dealing with back issues, according to Avila.