Angels right-hander Jered Weaver experienced tightness in his neck this morning and underwent an MRI that is being described as precautionary, tweets MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. While a fair number of players have undergone such tests and checked out just fine early in spring, there’s been some added concern surrounding Weaver given the fact that his fastball didn’t top 80 mph in his second spring outing, during which he served up three homers and yielded a total of five runs on six hits and a walk without a strikeout in 2 2/3 innings. Pedro Moura of the L.A. Times was among the reporters to speak to Weaver following yesterday’s start, with Weaver telling the media, “I wake up every day hoping this is the day that it’s going to click, and it just hasn’t happened yet.” Weaver voiced confidence that he can retire hitters even with diminished velocity, but after averaging 83-84 mph on his heater last season, the former ace’s velocity figures to be an ongoing point of intrigue. Weaver is earning $20MM in the final season of a five-year, $85MM contract in 2016.
Elsewhere in the AL West…
- Jarrod Parker’s uphill battle to return from a pair of Tommy John surgeries and a fractured epicondyle in his right elbow appears to have hit a snag, per Matt Kawahara of the Sacramento Bee. The Athletics right-hander, facing live hitters for the first time today, left the mound “yelling in pain” after throwing a pitch, Kawahara tweets. Pitching coach Curt Young, somewhat surprisingly, told Kawahara (Twitter link) that he “thinks” Parker will be OK, though he declined to go into any detail. A bullpen role for Parker had been the club’s preference for Parker, club sources told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, but Young did term the incident a “setback,” and the A’s have announced the injury as a “lateral elbow impingement,” via John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group (Twitter link). Parker is headed for an MRI, per Hickey. MLB.com’s Jane Lee tweets that this injury is less severe than his previous maladies, as he currently has range of motion in his elbow.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looks at the improbable (and that adjective is underselling the story) comeback of left-hander Rich Hill, who signed a one-year, $6MM contract with the Athletics this offseason on the heels of four brilliant September starts in Boston. Hill was granted his release from a minor league deal with the Nationals this past June and began working on throwing over the top for the first time after years of working more from a side-arm angle. Hill told his agent that he wanted an opportunity to start, and, finding no opportunities even with a Triple-A club, took to the independent Atlantic League to find a spot in the rotation. Hill parlayed that into a spot in the Red Sox’ Triple-A rotation and only received a call-up in September when Steven Wright suffered an injury. Four starts and a 1.55 ERA (with a 36-to-5 K/BB ratio in 29 innings) later, Hill says he received interest from 20 teams as a free agent and actually turned down an offer for more money than the $6MM he landed from the A’s.
- Mariners relievers Evan Scribner and Ryan Cook are likely ticketed for the disabled list to begin the 2016 season, reports Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Each right-hander is dealing with a strained lat muscle in his back, per GM Jerry Dipoto, who said the news was actually better than he’d been expecting.
- The outlook on Mariners lefty Danny Hultzen, however, is considerably less favorable, Dutton notes. The former No. 2 overall pick is again on the shelf due to shoulder pain, and manager Scott Servais said he “[doesn’t] see” when Hultzen could get into a game. Hultzen has been working exclusively as a reliever, but he experienced a setback recently, per Servais. One anonymous club official simply told Dutton that Hultzen’s status is “not good.” Dutton writes that the slew of injuries makes it easier for Joel Peralta to make the roster out of Spring Training, also reporting that Peralta is able to elect free agency late in camp if he is informed that he will not make the roster.