Veteran outfielder Michael Bourn seems fairly likely to make the Orioles’ Opening Day roster, Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com writes. His chief attributes — speed and defense — are areas where the club is lacking, and Bourn could conceivably not only lead off against righties, but also spell Adam Jones in center from time to time. Of course, his presence makes it less likely both that last year’s Rule 5 pick, Joey Rickard, makes the MLB roster and that the team is able to keep this year’s Rule 5ers (outfielders Aneury Tavarez and Anthony Santander).
Here’s more from the game’s eastern divisions:
- The Phillies seem inclined to hand the ball to righty Jeremy Hellickson when they start play this season, as Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “He’s probably got the best chance to be our Opening Day starter,” said manager Pete Mackanin. Hellickson, who took the organization’s $17.2MM qualifying offer rather than testing the open market, will be aiming to replicate a solid 2016 season and then test free agency without being saddled with draft compensation. (Under the new CBA, he won’t be eligible to receive a second qualifying offer.)
- Another player who steered clear of the open market, Marlins third baseman Martin Prado, discussed his decision to take an extension last fall. As Tim Healey of the Sun-Sentinel reports, Prado wasn’t sure he wanted to consider a new deal with just a few weeks left in the season. But the terms (three years and $40MM) were favorable enough for him to consider it, and he says he ended up preferring to stay in place after bouncing around a fair bit in prior seasons. As Healey writes, Prado had reasons both personal and professional for remaining in Miami. “I know I could probably get more money somewhere else if I go to a different team,” said Prado, “but I truly believe in this group of guys. They have fun. They play hard. I feel comfortable.”
- Meanwhile, Marlins lefty Jeff Locke is dealing with biceps tendinitis, as Healey further reports in the above-linked post. A few days’ rest is all that’s required at present, with Locke calling the brief shut-down a matter of taking a precaution early in camp. The southpaw struggled to a cumulative 4.90 ERA over the past two seasons, allowing the Marlins to grab him for $3.025MM on a one-year deal. While it seems reasonable to hope that the ailment won’t limit Locke, he already faces something of an uphill battle to win a rotation spot; Jason Martinez of MLBTR and RosterResource.com currently projects Locke to end up in the Miami pen to start the year.