Matt Wieters will return to Baltimore tonight for the first time since signing with the Nationals, and he spoke with Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com about his offseason departure from the Orioles as well the emotions he’s feeling in advance of tonight’s return to Camden Yards. Wieters’ podcast appearance also included talk of Dylan Bundy’s breakout and the experiences he’s had when being managed by two of our generation’s most successful managers: Buck Showalter and Dusty Baker.
Some more AL East-related notes…
- Though Rickie Weeks has gotten off to a dreadful start to his 2017 campaign with the Rays, the “clock isn’t ticking yet,” writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. It doesn’t appear that Weeks is on the brink of losing his roster spot, despite an ugly .163/.317/.286 batting line to open the season, though Topkin notes that he’ll need to turn things around sooner rather than later. Topkin also notes that the Rays face a decision when Matt Duffy returns from the disabled list late this month. Duffy is in line to be the starter, but the Rays will have to determine if Tim Beckham or Daniel Robertson is the better option to serve as a utility option.
- Both Aaron Sanchez and the Blue Jays were encouraged by a 33-pitch bullpen session yesterday, writes Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith. Sanchez felt comfortable enough to throw his curveball — the same pitch that has led to the blister issues and a subsequent removal of part of his fingernail — and is now slated to pitch in an extended Spring Training game on Tuesday. If that outing goes well, he’ll be an option to return to Toronto’s rotation this weekend against the Mariners, per Nicholson-Smith.
- Hanley Ramirez has yet to appear in a game at first base this season due to a shoulder issue, but he’s ready to take the field for the Red Sox’ upcoming interleague series in Milwaukee, writes Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. That should allow the Red Sox to deepen their lineup against left-handed pitching, he points out, with Chris Young sliding into the DH slot and Ramirez playing at first over the left-handed-hitting Mitch Moreland. While Moreland has more than held his own against southpaws in a small sample of work this season (.879 OPS in 24 plate appearances), he’s struggled against lefties throughout his career. And, as manager John Farrell points out to Mastrodonato, Moreland isn’t accustomed to playing first base on an everyday basis (due largely to his platoon issues), so the ability to keep him fresh by mixing Ramirez in at first base is important in multiple regards.