Some news and notes from around the American League West…
- While Spring Training impressions were limited due to the mid-March shutdown, the Mariners were still encouraged by the progress demonstrated by some expected key players, manager Scott Servais said this week on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link, with audio). In particular, lefty Justus Sheffield and righties Justin Dunn and Logan Gilbert looked to have taken notable strides. Sheffield, the centerpiece of the Mariners’ James Paxton return, allowed two runs on five hits and no walks with 12 punchouts in eight spring innings. Dunn, acquired alongside Jarred Kelenic in the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz blockbuster, whiffed 10 hitters in six innings while holding opponents to two runs in 6 2/3 frames. Gilbert, Seattle’s first-rounder in 2018, pitched four shutout innings with four strikeouts, no walks and one hit. The M’s are hopeful that this trio can soon ascend to the big league rotation alongside Marco Gonzales as the organization emerges from an accelerated rebuilding process. There’s clearly more to the belief that strides were made than those surface-level stats, but the trio’s showing nevertheless was heartening for Mariners fans.
- Rangers slugger Joey Gallo spoke with reporters about the dimensions of the newly constructed Globe Life Field, noting that the team’s new home park was “playing big as hell” during his batting practice session (link via Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News). Gallo pointed out that the park is particularly deep in center field, where it’s 407 feet straightaway. That said, as Grant points out, the distance may not make a huge difference for Gallo, whose home runs to center field have averaged 434 feet in distance. GM Jon Daniels added that Gallo has been hitting with the roof closed, and opening it while hitting game balls against live pitching could change things. Still, it’d be a notable change for the Rangers to suddenly find themselves in a pitcher-friendly or even neutral park after long playing in one of the game’s most hitter-friendly stadiums. Gallo did offer positive reviews of the park’s artificial surface, calling it the “best turf I’ve ever been on” and touting its lack of “lingering side effects.” Gallo acknowledges that Rangers players were worried about the surface heading into the season, but his early experiences have allayed some of those concerns.
- The Astros are facing a potential exodus in the outfield this coming offseason, and Jake Kaplan of The Athletic notes in his latest mailbag column that they’re looking at a similar slate of departures post-2021, when Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers Jr. could all hit the open market. Houston will see George Springer, Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel and Josh Reddick hit the market after whatever type of 2020 season we get. Given their poorly regarded farm system — not to mention the loss of draft picks in 2020-21 — the ’Stros are faced with an increasingly precarious position. It’s of course possible that the Astros could yet work out some extensions with various members of that core, but it’s also eminently apparent that a fair bit of roster turnover can be expected in the next couple of years — with several high-profile names likely to depart.