The Athletics announced several cuts to their Spring Training roster today, and outfielder JJ Bleday was one of the players optioned to Triple-A. Bleday had been competing with Cristian Pache and Esteury Ruiz for the center field job, and manager Mark Kotsay told reporters (including The San Francisco Chronicle’s Matt Kawahara) that “it’s not an easy decision” in picking between the trio since the A’s eventually want to see what all of them can do at the big league level. All of Pache, Ruiz, and Bleday will “impact this club at some point” in 2023, Kotsay said, but in determining the Opening Day roster “there’s going to be factors that go into it…not just performance but roster construction, depth at the position.”
Kotsay also noted that Pache might have an advantage since he is out of minor league options, whereas Ruiz and Bleday both have options remaining. Bleday and Ruiz each joined the A’s this offseason, as Bleday was acquired from the Marlins for A.J. Puk last month, and Ruiz came to Oakland as part of the big three-team, nine-player swap with the Brewers and Braves that saw Sean Murphy land in Atlanta. Pache, meanwhile, was part of last March’s blockbuster deal with Atlanta, as Pache was one of four players the A’s acquired in exchange for Matt Olson. Earlier this month, MLBTR’s Steve Adams wrote about the many outfielders vying for playing time for Oakland this season, beyond just the center field situation.
More from around the AL West…
- Andres Munoz underwent foot surgery last October, and the Mariners reliever told Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times that three screws were placed into his ankle as part of the bone-fusion procedure. The injury dated back to Munoz’s days as a high school track athlete, and a 2020 procedure to remove a piece of fractured bone from the ankle didn’t do the trick, as Munoz said that during the 2022 season, “on almost every pitch, I felt some kind of pain.” Under those circumstances, Munoz’s 2022 numbers are all the more remarkable, as the right-hander posted a 2.49 ERA and an elite 39.2% strikeout rate over 65 innings out of Seattle’s bullpen. The Mariners have been taking it slow with Munoz this spring, as he has started throwing live batting practice sessions and is slated to pitch in a Cactus League game during the coming week.
- In other Mariners news, manager Scott Servais told MLB.com and other media that outfielder Taylor Trammell is “probably three weeks away, something like that, from a bat in his hand. But he’s focused right now on gaining strength back in that wrist and the hand.” Trammell underwent hamate bone surgery in mid-February, and was initially projected for a recovery period of at least seven weeks. Servais’ update would seemingly end any chance of a return for Trammell at the low end of that projected timeline, though a 10-day injured list stint already seemed inevitable to give the outfielder more time to ramp up.
- Jacob deGrom and Nathan Eovaldi will both start minor league games on Monday, according to The Athletic’s Levi Weaver (Twitter link). DeGrom will pitch for the Rangers’ Double-A team, while Eovaldi takes the hill for the Triple-A club. Due to some tightness in his side early in camp, deGrom has yet to pitch in any games this spring, as Texas has been cautious in gradually managing his workload. Eovaldi pitched in one Cactus League game before also feeling some tightness in his side, so he was briefly shut down to recuperate.
- Former Astros prospect Jayson Schroeder announced his retirement from baseball via his Instagram page (hat tip to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle). Schroeder was the Astros’ second-round pick in the 2018 draft, but he struggled during his brief pro career, posting a 6.95 ERA over 134 2/3 minor league innings. Houston released Schroeder in December.