Longtime Seattle ace Felix Hernandez looks to be leading the competition for a place in Atlanta’s Cole Hamels-less rotation, Mark Bowman of MLB.com relays. The 33-year-old King Felix has given himself the upper hand with 4 2/3 innings of one-run, six-strikeout ball this spring. Hernandez, who’s competing against Sean Newcomb, Kyle Wright and Touki Toussaint for one of two spots, is attempting to revive his career back-to-back trying seasons. The former AL Cy Young winner’s recent struggles forced him to settle for a minor league contract over the winter, and if he does make the Braves, he’ll earn a $1MM salary.
- The Royals aren’t sure when Adalberto Mondesi will make his Cactus League debut, but they continue to expect the shortstop to be ready for the season opener, manager Mike Matheny stated over the weekend (via Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com). “It’s just about getting him enough reps to be ready by Opening Day. We should be good,” Matheny said of Mondesi, who’s working back from the left shoulder surgery he underwent last September. Before suffering that injury, the 24-year-old turned in his second straight productive season, totaling 2.4 fWAR with a .263/.291/.424 line and 43 stolen bases.
- Turning to Hernandez’s ex-team, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times delves into the competition among infielder/outfielder Dylan Moore, outfielder Braden Bishop and infielder/outfielder Tim Lopes for the Mariners’ final two bench spots. The most major league experience of the three belongs to Moore, who took 282 trips to the plate for the Mariners last season and hit .206/.302/.389 with nine home runs and 11 steals. He saw action at every position on the diamond but catcher, even pitching an inning. Bishop’s a decently regarded prospect (Baseball America ranks him 19th in the team’s system), but injuries – including a lacerated spleen – have slowed him down. He made a brutal debut in the majors last season, batting .107/.153/.107 in 60 PA. Lopes hit well, on the other hand (.270/.359/.360 in 128 PA), and has continued to do so this spring.
- Andrew Velazquez hasn’t been an Oriole for long, having joined the club via waivers two weeks ago, but he’s making a good early impression. Velazquez, who’s among those competing for a bench role with the Orioles, is “migrating toward the front of the line of utility candidates,” Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes. The switch-hitting 25-year-old spent time in the majors with the Rays and Indians from 2018-19, though he only combined for 36 plate appearances with those teams. Most of his recent work has come in Triple-A ball, where he owns a .260/.316/.415 line in 648 PA.