Reds lefty Alex Wood, who’s dealt with back spasms since he arrived for Spring Training in late February, “didn’t respond well” after his latest bullpen session, reports manager David Bell (via MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon). Wood, who was acquired in an offseason trade that also sent Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp from Los Angeles to Cincinnati, will likely seek a second opinion on the creaky back, placing his eventual Reds debut in even further doubt. Thanks to stellar early-season performances from Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, and Tyler Mahle, among others, Cincy’s starting five leads the NL in nearly every rotation category, doubly impressive when given the puny dimensions of Great American Ballpark. Still, it’s a unit that should both anticipate heavy regression and yearn for the return of Wood, whose recent-year track record stands apart from each of his potential rotation mates.
The latest on a few other NL franchises…
- The Brewers and Mets were the teams most connected to Gio Gonzalez in the rumor mill before the lefty agreed to sign with Milwaukee on Thursday. Gonzalez confirmed Saturday that the Mets were indeed the other club pursuing him, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The Mets were in there but they have such a great rotation. The Brewers met my expectations and needs,” Gonzalez said. “Either way, it was a win-win for me. Two great teams were coming at you. It came down to wants and needs with Milwaukee. I played with them last year so I had the feel for what they’re trying to do.” While Gonzalez lauded the Mets’ rotation, he nonetheless may have been an upgrade for New York. The Mets have been running out the much-maligned Jason Vargas as their fifth starter, after all, yet they only viewed Gonzalez as a marginal-at-best upgrade over him, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweeted this week. Their bearishness on Gonzalez helped pave the way for the 33-year-old to rejoin the Brewers, with whom he performed well after they acquired him from Washington last August. Now, Gonzalez will slot back into a Brewers rotation that entered Saturday with the NL’s worst ERA (5.77). His first outing of the year will come Sunday against – you guessed it – the Mets.
- Banged-up Pirates outfielders Corey Dickerson and Lonnie Chisenhall aren’t recovering as hoped. Dickerson felt tightness in his strained right shoulder while throwing from 110 feet Saturday, and Chisenhall’s now dealing with left calf tightness that has forced the team to stop his rehab assignment, according to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It’s a new issue this year for Chisenhall, who started the season on the IL because of a broken hand. However, it’s all the more troubling because Chisenhall – then with the Indians – missed large chunks of the previous two seasons because of calf problems in both legs.
- The Braves have placed reliever Jesse Biddle on the IL with a right thigh bruise and right calf strain, Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes. Atlanta recalled righty Shane Carle in a corresponding move. The IL placement continues a difficult stretch for Biddle, who, as Bowman notes, has retired just 10 of the last 23 batters he gone against. The southpaw faced four batters in a loss to the Rockies on Friday and failed to retire any of them, though one reached on an error, and yielded four runs (one earned) on three hits. Biddle has still notched a solid 3.18 ERA in 11 1/3 innings this year, but he has also walked upward of seven hitters per nine and seen his swinging-strike rate plummet from 10.4 percent in 2018 to 6.8 this season.