There was some (exceedingly mild) AL Central intrigue this morning, as reliever Matt Belisle bounced from the Indians over to the Twins, but otherwise it has been a quiet news day. Let’s take a look in at the latest items out of the AL Central:
- Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann says he’s ready to return to the majors after his latest minor-league start, as Peter Wallner of MLive.com reports. Zimmermann has been out for just over a month with a shoulder impingement, but he says he “feel[s] strong” and has now worked up to 89 pitches in his third rehab outing. As we noted upon his DL placement, Zimmermann has continued to post mediocre results but had at least boasted much/improved strikeout and walk numbers (9.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9). The Tigers are still milling around in an uninspiring AL Central race, though the odds of true contention this year remain long. Zimmermann’s hefty salary commitment and full no-trade protection — it converts to partial protection after the season — make him a difficult trade candidate, though a swap at some point can’t be ruled out entirely.
- Twins first baseman Joe Mauer is just launching his own rehab assignment, MLB.com’s Jarrid Denney reports. Concussion-like symptoms have kept the 35-year-old out for the past several weeks. He has dealt with similar problems in the past, of course, which represents a major reason that he no longer plays behind the plate. Though he has not contributed enough on-field value to justify his lofty salary in quite some time, Mauer has been a productive hitter over the past two years. Thus far in 2018, he is slashing .283/.404/.355 with 28 walks against 22 strikeouts but just one home run through 167 plate appearances. Meanwhile, young outfielder Byron Buxton is going through some running and baseball activities, but still evidently remains some ways away from returning from a fractured toe.
- Giving up lefty Sean Manaea helped the Royals win a World Series, but his rise in Oakland has surely left some K.C. fans wondering what might have been. As Rustin Dodd of The Athletic writes in a subscription piece, though, GM Dayton Moore has no regrets whatsoever about how things turned out. He explains how it was that the club sent Manaea to the A’s for utility star Ben Zobrist, saying that “Billy Beane was persistent” while the Royals “weren’t going to be outbid” for a key asset after coming up just shy the season prior. Now, though, Moore says the goal is to create a broad-based array of talent that will allow the organization to “compete for a long time,” hopefully without pursuing such drastic, win-now swaps.
- Meanwhile, Lucas Giolito continues to fall shy of expectations for the White Sox. Through a dozen starts this year, including his latest yesterday evening, he carries a 7.08 ERA with just 31 strikeouts to go with 39 walks and a league-leading ten hit batters. As Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune writes, Giolito is getting plenty of leash with the rebuilding South Siders, though it’s tough to know whether or not that’s for the best given just how much he has struggled. There’s still some hope that the former top prospect will develop into a quality big league starter, writes Greenstein, and Giolito is only due to reach his 24th birthday this summer. Still, it’s fair to wonder just how long the club will keep trotting him out if things don’t improve. Skipper Rick Renteria says there haven’t been any recent discussions about sending Giolito down, though he did hint that the club has contemplated the possibility in the past.