The Dodgers dealt Kenta Maeda to the Twins last month, after which the right-hander seemingly indicated that he asked for a trade out of the Los Angeles organization. However, that’s not what happened, according to Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman (via Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register). While Maeda did make it known to the Dodgers he prefers to start (they often used him as a reliever from 2018-19), Friedman insists there was no trade request when the two met last season. “I saw the headline and then we had someone actually listen to it. And he didn’t in that meeting demand anything and nor did he actually say he did in that interview,” Friedman stated. For their part, the Dodgers didn’t enter the offseason planning to move Maeda, per Friedman, but they pulled the trigger when the Twins offered a Brusdar Graterol-led package. Maeda, meanwhile, will now have an opportunity to return to being a full-time starter in Minnesota.
- The Angels fired visiting clubhouse manager Brian Harkins on Thursday amid allegations that he provided “illegal substances” to help opposing pitchers grip the ball better, Maria Torres of the Los Angeles Times reports. The news did not come as a surprise to the Angels, per Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register. “I think everybody knows that most guys are doing it,” left-hander Andrew Heaney said. “I don’t think it’s that surprising for anybody who knows baseball.” Pitching coach Mickey Callaway told Fletcher he expects Major League Baseball to ban hurlers from using pine tar and other such substances, but he believes it could have a detrimental effect because they help pitchers’ control – especially in cold conditions. “If I were a hitter, I’d be scared to dig into the box in Detroit on April 10,” he said. Manager Joe Maddon also weighed in, saying pitchers have been using substances to better their grip for “as long as I’ve been in baseball.” Maddon wonders whether MLB will eventually have to make changes to the ball, as the current one has become slicker.
- Cardinals righty Carlos Martinez has been a starter for most of his career, but shoulder issues helped force the hard-throwing 28-year-old to their bullpen last season. He’s now back in the Cardinals’ rotation, though, and is showing off his old form this spring, as Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch observes. “Everything’s been really good,” manager Mike Shildt said after Martinez threw five scoreless innings against Washington on Thursday. “That was a pretty dramatic display of, ‘Hey, I’m a starter.’ He’s established himself, for sure.” Martinez has been quite successful in a starting role, having recorded a 3.38 ERA/3.61 FIP in 712 1/3 innings from the Cardinals’ rotation. The reigning NL Central champions would surely be pleased if he can offer similar production this season, especially with fellow righty Miles Mikolas set to miss the beginning of the year with an elbow injury.
- There is a growing likelihood that the Royals will use first basemen Ryan O’Hearn and Ryan McBroom in “a soft platoon” to open the season, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com writes. As we touched on Friday, the left-handed O’Hearn is seeking a bounce-back year after logging horrid production in 2019. The right-handed McBroom was better with the Royals last year in his first season in the majors, hitting .293/.361/.350. However, it was only an 83-plate appearance sample, in which McBroom failed to hit a home run, struck out over 30 percent of the time and was the beneficiary of an unsustainable .440 batting average on balls in play. To his credit, though, McBroom thrived as a Yankees farmhand last season in Triple-A ball, where he slashed .315/.402/.574 and slugged 26 homers in 482 PA.