Let’s take a look at the latest notes from the National League:
- Dodgers great Clayton Kershaw was something of a surprise offseason Driveline Baseball student, Pedro Moura of The Athletic reports (subscription link). It’s by now common to hear of hurlers spending time at the renowned clinic, but the most accomplished pitcher of his generation? Kershaw says he was mostly intrigued by learning “how to create the most efficiency with your body, and how to create the most power with your body.” President of baseball ops Andrew Friedman calls it a testament to the superstar lefty’s curiosity. No doubt a devastating postseason exit played a role. It’ll be interesting to see how the effort translates as Kershaw attempts to continue to evolve as he ages. (Long-time division rival Mason Saunders prefers a somewhat different offseason regimen.)
- The Cardinals seem hopeful that righty Carlos Martinez can return to being a quality rotation piece in 2020. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that the club still feels Martinez has exceptional talent. But it’s equally clear there’s still uncertainty. Manager Mike Shildt says Martinez is “out here giving himself a legitimate shot to compete” for a starting job, but notes that “what he does during the work and how he recovers between games that are going [to matter] as we start to ramp it up.” In other words, as Goold puts it, the organization believes Martinez must “embrace a more consistent between-start and pregame approach.” Whether Martinez can find his groove could make quite the difference in the Cards’ 2020 outlook, particularly with Miles Mikolas set to miss time.
- We heard chatter about Freddie Freeman’s late-2019 elbow issues, but it seems the injury was a fair bit more debilitating than the Braves slugger let on. As Jeff Schultz of The Athletic reports (subscription link), Freeman dealt not only with pain, but with quite a lot of difficulties relating to his efforts to deal with the agonizing bone spurs in his joint. Schultz writes that the star first baseman relied heavily upon pain pills just to be able to play. But that came with other problems: “He had gotten into bad habits, cutting his swing short, because of the injury. The lack of sleep and accompanying stress made things worse.” The story speaks to Freeman’s determination, but it’s also a bit worrisome to read of his travails. Thankfully, it seems offseason surgery has eliminated the need for such drastic measures in 2020.
- The Reds roster remains fun to watch even as Spring Training gets underway. The team placed some bat-first bets around the lineup but also installed Freddie Galvis at shortstop. He’s currently without a reserve complement, but the Reds are now looking to find one in a somewhat surprising place. As MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon writes, Kyle Farmer will be given a shot at adding reserve shortstop to his already lengthy list of responsibilities. The 29-year-old has plenty of amateur experience at the position and has spent a bit of time there as a pro, but he has primarily been tasked with playing behind the dish and at third base since being drafted. It seems the Reds are comfortable playing Farmer just about anywhere on the infield; he could be an interesting asset if he’s able to improve upon last year’s tepid offensive showing.