The Rangers optioned Willie Calhoun to Triple-A Round Rock yesterday after the top prospect struggled to a .243/.282/.324 slash through 39 Cactus League plate appearances. The 23-year-old seemed to have at least an outside chance of cracking the big league roster after impressing with a .300/.355/.572 slash in Triple-A last season, but he’ll instead head to the minors and continue to hone his defense (as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News suggests on Twitter). Calhoun got 20 days of big league service last September, so it seems unlikely that service time implications are a prevailing factor in the decision. But, that could be an added benefit for the Rangers. Calhoun would need 152 days of service time in 2018 to reach a full year, meaning he’d reach a full year if he’s up in the Majors on or before April 27 this season and is not optioned back down to the minors. With Calhoun in Round Rock, Ryan Rua and Drew Robinson could be in line to open the season in a left-field platoon. Utilityman Jurickson Profar also has a bit of experience in left.
More from the AL West…
- Rangers righty Clayton Blackburn is awaiting word on an elbow MRI, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets, but it doesn’t sound as if there’s much room for optimism. Even in the best-case scenario, Blackburn will be expected to miss the entire first half of the season. The 25-year-old was expected to be an important part of the pitching depth in Texas, even if he had only an outside shot at opening the season in the majors. As Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News explains, there’s plenty still left to be resolved in the Rangers’ pitching staff even after a winter spent collecting arms.
- The Athletics are holding their breath as right-hander Jharel Cotton undergoes an MRI on his right elbow after experiencing soreness in his most recent spring outing, writes MLB.com’s Jane Lee. Manager Bob Melvin acknowledged that “there’s some concern” over the test results rather than painting the MRI as any sort of precautionary measure. The skipper also noted that Cotton’s velocity has declined in his prior outing. At minimum, Cotton will not make his next start. He’d been largely penciled in for a rotation spot, however, so a significant injury would have a dramatic impact on Oakland’s rotation mix.
- Nelson Cruz is the latest Mariners player to be hobbled by injury in Spring Training, as he exited yesterday’s game with a strained quadriceps, writes Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. He’ll also likely receive an MRI for further evaluation. Cruz laced a liner into the gap but pulled up on his sprint and eased his way into first base on what should have been a double, as Divish explains. Beyond Cruz, presumptive utilityman Andrew Romine suffered an injury to his left shoulder when lunging to apply a tag at third base in the ninth inning. Manager Scott Servais indicated that the shoulder “might have popped out or something,” and Romine, too, will be sent for further evaluation.
- In more positive Mariners news, Divish also writes that Felix Hernandez threw more than 20 pitches in a bullpen session yesterday — his first mound work since being hit on the elbow/forearm by a line drive back on Feb. 26 — and reported no issues. Hernandez was originally slated to throw only fastballs but talked his way into throwing a few curveballs and changeups. He’ll likely have another bullpen session before making his return to a game setting with the M’s this weekend. King Felix is hoping to start on Opening Day with the Mariners, though his current trajectory might not make that possible. Even if he’s not the Opening Day starter, though, it seems likely that Hernandez would likely be ready to go at some point in the team’s first turn through the rotation.