Let's celebrate perhaps the last year of a six-team NL Central with spring training links for all the clubs…
- Pirates infielder Gustavo Nunez, who was taken from the Tigers in December's Rule 5 draft, was placed on the 60-day DL with a right ankle injury, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Side effects of the move: the Pirates buy some time before deciding whether to put Nunez on the 25-man roster, and a 40-man roster spot is opened for new acquisition A.J. Burnett.
- The Burnett acquisition creates competition at the back end of the Pirates' rotation, writes Biertempfel. He believes Kevin Correia and Jeff Karstens will battle for the last spot, if everyone is healthy. Burnett talked to reporters this morning. One interesting news tidbit was his comment that one ever asked him about a potential Angels trade, though he confirmed he's not interested in the West Coast for family reasons. Unprompted, Burnett debunked the rumors about his wife's transportation preferences, saying with a smile, "She loves to fly."
- Ryan Madson's $8.5MM commitment with the Reds is spread out over three budgets, explains ESPN's Buster Olney: "$2MM during the 2012 season, $2MM in deferred salary on Nov. 1, 2012 — which is the start of the 2013 budget — and another $2MM in deferred salary, without interest, on Nov. 1, 2013, at the outset of the 2014 fiscal year. In the middle of that, they have a $2.5MM buyout on an $11 million option for 2013." On the topic of his one-year deal, Madson told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon, "I take it as motivation to show people again, to prove that it's real. It's unfortunate it's that way but I'm not complaining. I'm very happy. I'm very privileged to have this opportunity, and I just want to run with it and show people that I will be OK."
- Righty Brett Tomko always wanted to come back to Cincinnati, he told John Fay of the Enquirer. Tomko said it's taken two years to recover from a 2009 pinched nerve.
- The Astros could have a new player at all nine positions for Opening Day 2012 compared to '11, writes Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle.
- Astros 2010 supplemental first-round pick Mike Kvasnicka is moving back to catcher from third base, tweets Levine. Kvasnicka was recently ranked 25th among Astros prospects by Baseball America.
- "I'm not one to look back with animosity, however people or fans want to view my time there," former Cubs GM Jim Hendry told Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Hendry noted that it was "just nice" to be wanted by the Yankees, "the most storied franchise in sports." He's now with the Yankees as a special assistant to GM Brian Cashman, and isn't worrying about becoming a GM again.
- "They always say contract years turn out to be great years," Brewers starter Chris Narveson mentioned to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum are entering contract years, while Randy Wolf has a $10MM club option for '13 with a $1.5MM buyout.
- Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright refuses to put a limit on his innings following 2011 Tommy John surgery, he told MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch, but she notes that GM John Mozeliak has said 200 frames is likely out of the question.