Orioles manager Brandon Hyde issued a fairly encouraging update on right-hander Felix Hernandez, who left his outing Tuesday with discomfort in his pitching elbow. Hyde told Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com and other reporters that the issue is “just bothering him a little bit right now,” but there isn’t a timetable for his return. As of now, the Orioles have not scheduled any exams for Hernandez, a minor league signing who looked likely to win a season-opening rotation spot in the bigs before this injury cropped up. He should still be in position to start for the O’s this year if his elbow heals.
- After an ugly season with the Angels in 2020, righty Julio Teheran sat on the free-agent market until last month, when he settled for a minors deal with the Tigers. The 30-year-old has fared so well this spring that he’s on track to claim a spot on Detroit’s Opening Day roster. Manager AJ Hinch said Wednesday that Teheran is “getting pretty close to” earning a job, Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press relays. If the longtime Brave is able to pull that off, he’ll earn a $3MM salary this season.
- Righty Tanner Houck was among the players the Red Sox sent down Wednesday, leaving fellow RHP Nick Pivetta as a lock to open the season as their fifth starter, Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com writes. Pivetta, whom the Red Sox acquired from the Phillies last summer, endured his share of struggles during the first four years of his career, but he finished 2020 in encouraging fashion and has continued to turn heads this spring. Houck, meanwhile, was outstanding during a three-start, 17-inning major league debut last year, when he pitched to a near-spotless 0.53 ERA and struck out 33.3 percent of the batters he faced. However, unlike Pivetta, Houck has minor league options remaining – which surely impacted Boston’s decision.
- Even though Diamondbacks right J.B. Bukauskas flashed an impressive repertoire across four scoreless innings this spring, the club demoted him earlier this week. Agent Scott Boras took exception to the decision, per Zach Buchanan of The Athletic, saying “we all know it’s about service-clock issues” and adding that “We all know we’ll see J.B. on April 15.” Unsurprisingly, general manager Mike Hazen denied that service time was one of the causes for the move, claiming it had “zero” impact. Rather, according to Hazen, the Diamondbacks preferred to open the season with more experienced options in their bullpen. Manager Torey Lovullo does expect the 24-year-old to make his major league debut this year, though, “if he continues on the same path.”
- Angels righty Felix Pena is expected to miss two to four weeks with a Grade 1 right hamstring strain, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com tweets. That should rule out Pena for the beginning of the season, which is a blow to the Angels’ bullpen. Last year, Pena threw 26 2/3 innings of 4.05 ERA/3.52 SIERA ball with above-average strikeout and walk percentages of 25.2 and 7.0, respectively.