Some news and notes from American League spring training camps:
- Trent Thornton is the favorite to claim the final spot in the Blue Jays’ season-opening rotation, reports Scott Mitchell of TSN. The 26-year-old actually led the Jays in innings (154.1) last season, but the results weren’t in line with what one would want from a staff ace. He posted a 4.84 ERA with slightly worse than average strikeout (22.0%) and walk (9.0%) rates. This offseason, the front office went to work on bolstering that pitching staff. They signed Hyun-Jin Ryu and Tanner Roark to multi-year deals, brought back Matt Shoemaker, and acquired Chase Anderson in a trade with Milwaukee. Another offseason addition, Shun Yamaguchi, figures to be Thornton’s biggest competition for the #5 rotation spot. Because of his experience in relief in NPB, however, Yamaguchi seems more likely to open the season in the bullpen, Mitchell reports.
- Seeing that new-look staff in action will be a bit more difficult for some Blue Jays’ fans. Beginning this season, live Jays’ games will be blacked out on MLB.tv throughout Canada, reports Andrew Stoeten of the Athletic. Instead, Canadian viewers will have to subscribe to Sportsnet NOW to stream games. A subscription to that platform also offers non-baseball programming but doesn’t come with the MLB.tv advantage of offering live access to every MLB game in real time. It’s surely frustrating news for a certain segment of the Canadian fan base.
- Twins’ reliever Fernando Romero won’t report to the team “for the foreseeable future,” manager Rocco Baldelli tells Jeff Wheeler of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. A visa issue resulted in Romero being denied entrance to the United States. He’ll now need to resubmit several documents to gain customs’ approval, Wheeler reports, a process that could take several weeks. It’s possible Romero misses all of spring training, he adds. A lengthy delay would be a blow to the 25-year-old’s hopes of earning a big league bullpen job out of camp. Long one of the organization’s top prospects, Romero struggled in 15 MLB relief appearances in 2019.
- Willie Calhoun has a firm hold on the Rangers’ left field job, notes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. More importantly, it seems Calhoun’s found a better peace of mind as he enters spring training than he’d carried into previous seasons, as Grant explores. After some tumult following his early-season demotion in 2019, the 25-year-old has forged stronger relationships with many in the organization. Grant’s profile is worth a full perusal for those interested in Calhoun’s growth as a person and player.