- What seemed at first like a minor issue for Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager is beginning to seem a bit more concerning. While he’s apparently dealing with tightness in his back, manager Dave Roberts says it’s “oblique-ish” in location, as Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Though Seager is said to be improving, it’s still not clear when the star youngster will return to the lineup. He also weighed in on the injury, saying that he doesn’t expect to have any trouble getting ready for Opening Day, as MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick tweets.
- Red Sox manager John Farrell gave updates on a variety of players to reporters, including Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald. That includes lefty Roenis Elias, who has been diagnosed with an intercostal strain that will sideline him for at least a few weeks. A minor thumb issue for righty Rick Porcello doesn’t appear to be posing many problems. And while it’s not strictly an injury matter, it’s worth noting Farrell’s comments on righty Tyler Thornburg, who still needs to build up shoulder strength. That’s common for hurlers that are new to the organization, says Farrell, who cites a “period of adaptation” as pitchers “go through our shoulder maintenance program.”
- Meanwhile, Red Sox lefty David Price isn’t yet ready to throw, but is able to go through a pitching motion, Drellich adds on Twitter. It’s promising, at least, that there’s forward momentum as he works through a flexor strain.
- Time is tight for Orioles righty Chris Tillman, who is still not ready to return from his shoulder issues. He will need to progress smoothly to appear in the first week of the season, manager Buck Showalter told reporters including Rich Dubroff of PressBoxOnline.com (via Twitter). There’s perhaps a bit more breathing room for O’s closer Zach Britton, who’s working through oblique pain. Showalter says that he may appear in Grapefruit League action next after a pen session today, as Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun tweets.
- Orioles righty Logan Ondrusek is taking the always-ominous trip to see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. Ondrusek talked about how he experienced the elbow injury, explaining that he felt it on a single pitch but didn’t think more of it until he woke up with soreness that evening. He notes that it’s tough for pitchers who are going year to year to deal with potentially significant injuries. In his case, it’s not clear how his contract will work out. Ondrusek agreed with the O’s on a MLB deal that didn’t guarantee him all of his $650K salary.
- Athletics righty Sonny Gray says he was surprised to learn of his lat strain, as Jimmy Durkin of the Mercury News reports. An MRI was ordered just to be on the safe side, which revealed “a little bit of a strain there that’s just going to take a little time to heal.” Gray says he’s confident he’ll return in relatively short order — and regain his former trajectory. “There’s no doubt in my mind that when this thing gets knocked out that I’m going to be back to being the guy I’ve always been,” he says. “It’s just another little test that I’ve got to deal with.”
That’s the second time the 32-year-old has taken home the hardware, though his prior award came in the American League (in 2013, with the Tigers). Scherzer led the N.L. with 228 1/3 innings, twenty wins, and a 0.968 WHIP. He ended the year with 2.96 ERA with 11.2 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9.
That showing was good enough to beat out Cubs hurlers Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks — who finished second and third, respectively. Scherzer ended up with 25 of the 30 first-place votes, reflecting a strong consensus, but in truth it was a widespread field full of worthwhile contenders. That includes the absurdly dominant Clayton Kershaw, who probably would have run away with the award had he not missed a dozen starts due to injury, and the dearly departed Jose Fernandez, who garnered down-ballot consideration after a dominant season that ended in tragedy.
Porcello’s win came over fellow finalists Justin Verlander of the Tigers and Corey Kluber of the Indians. All were worthy contenders in a year in which nobody put up a truly dominant year. The best A.L. pitchers on a rate basis was reliever Zach Britton, who managed a fourth-place finish despite the innings limitations inherent to his job.
The vote came with its share of controversy. Verlander received 14 of the 30 available first-place votes, but narrowly missed the award when he was left off of two ballots altogether. The 33-year-old threw 227 2/3 innings of 3.04 ERA ball, with 10.0 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9, whereas Porcello racked up 223 frames of 3.15 ERA pitching on the back of 7.6 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9. The difference, perhaps, was that the ultimate victor managed a sparkling 22-4 win-loss record, whereas Verlander carried a less notable 16-and-9 mark.
Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna gave Toronto fans a scare on Tuesday when he exited the team’s Wild Card game with the trainer, but the 21-year-old told reporters today that he expects to be ready to go for the ALDS on Friday (Twitter link via Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi). Osuna explained that he felt a “stretch” in his shoulder at the time, but doctors informed that there’s no major issue and that he simply needs a couple days of rest. Osuna followed up a dominant rookie campaign with a remarkably similar sophomore effort, posting a 2.68 ERA with 10.0 K/9 against 1.7 BB/9 to go along with 36 saves in 74 innings of work.
More from the AL East…
- Junichi Tazawa’s time with the Red Sox may be coming to an end, writes Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald. Once one of the team’s most trusted setup men, Tazawa’s struggles in 2016 have probably left him on the outside looking in when it comes to Boston’s playoff roster, and, as a free agent at season’s end, that would mean he’s pitched his last game in a BoSox uniform (barring a new contract in the offseason, of course). As Drellich points out, Tazawa pitched well against lefties this season, but if the team wants another weapon against left-handed bats, Fernando Abad would be the go-to option. As it stands, Drellich writes that Craig Kimbrel, Brad Ziegler, Koji Uehara, Robbie Ross, Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes and Drew Pomeranz are the likeliest members of the Red Sox to comprise the postseason relief corps. The 30-year-old Tazawa logged a 4.17 ERA with 9.8 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 in 49 2/3 innings this season but struggled for much of the summer after a strong start.
- Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski tells Alex Speier of the Boston Globe that when he drafted Rick Porcello as the Tigers’ GM, he expected that Porcello would eventually blossom into a top-of-the-rotation arm. However, while Porcello has reached that status in 2016, Dombrowski explained that the manner in which his right-hander has done so is different than his initial vision. “When we drafted him we thought of him as this flamethrowing top-of-the-rotation type guy,” said Dombrowski. “What he’s done is he’s adjusted to the game.” Dombrowski went on to laud Porcello’s command, stating that he never dreamed it could develop to the point that it has. Porcello himself talked about the difficulties he felt after getting off to a poor start to his Boston tenure, likening last season’s prolonged slump to the one that earned him a demotion back to the minors in his second big league season. He added that he’s not making any assumption that his 2016 success is here to stay: “I don’t want to get complacent and be like, ‘I’ve done this now. I’ve arrived. Now I can stop.’ As appreciative as I am of that recognition, I can’t allow myself to think like that.”
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman doesn’t expect to receive an extension from the team before his contract expires at the end of the 2017 season, writes MLB.com’s Barry Bloom. “I assume things will play out the way they’ve played out for a long time here, where we will go through next year and collective ownership will decide what we want to do as we move forward,” said Cashman, who expects that the same process will be applicable to manager Joe Girardi. “Unless ownership tells me otherwise, there’s that built-in assumption that we play our contracts out and then they’ll decide.”
Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello has been at his best during his 33 starts with Boston when he has relied on his sinker, Scott Lauber of ESPN.com details. During his first 20 starts last season, Porcello threw his sinker 28 percent of the time against lefties and 41 percent versus right-handed hitters – down from career rates of 42 and 52 percent, respectively – and he pitched to an ugly 5.81 ERA. After a stint on the disabled list, Porcello returned and finished the season strong (3.14 ERA in eight starts) while throwing sinkers 44 percent of the time to lefty batters and 58 percent against righties. He’s at 49 and 57 percent this year, respectively, and has been among the top pitchers in baseball with a 2.76 ERA, 9.92 K/9, 1.65 BB/9 and 49.4 percent ground-ball rate over 32 2/3 innings (five starts). “He had to work extremely hard to get the sink back, to get that mindset back, because he had gotten away from it a little bit,” pitching coach Carl Willis told Lauber. “But once you get to that point, I think it’s simple because it allows him to then be himself and pitch to his strengths.” In addition to throwing more sinkers, Porcello helped his cause by changing his arm slot late in Spring Training after he raised it slightly thanks to an increased use of four-seam fastballs, per Willis.
More from around the American League…
- White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams says the team has gotten over the Spring Training Adam LaRoche saga, which isn’t a surprise considering the club’s AL-best 17-8 record. “I had to do what was best for all parties. I’ve tried to stay above the fray and chose the road less traveled — the high road. We don’t talk about it anymore,” he told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Williams, of course, took plenty of heat from White Sox players when he told LaRoche that his son had to spend less time in the clubhouse, leading the first baseman/designated hitter to retire in March with $13MM left on his contract.
- Yankees third baseman Chase Headley failed to amass a single extra-base hit in April while batting .150/.268/.150 in 71 plate appearances, and his struggles are thanks in part to his home ballpark. “Everybody talks about how good of a ballpark Yankee Stadium is to hit in, but it’s pretty big with the exception of right field,” he told FanGraphs’ David Laurila. “The rest of it plays as big, or bigger, than most yards. It’s maybe a better fit for guys who hit the ball high down the line than it for guys who hit the ball like I have for a lot of my career.” Headley is “working on” hitting the ball in the air more to right field and wants to increase elevation in general to combat defensive shifts. The 31-year-old has a 46.8 percent ground-ball rate and a fly ball percentage of 29.8 percent this season. Both of those numbers are worse than his career rates of 44.6 and 33.6, respectively.
- Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton began a minor league rehab assignment Saturday in Double-A and totaled two at-bats, per Dave Sessions of MLB.com. Hamilton, who missed all of Spring Training with left knee problems, will need to accrue at least 20 to 30 ABs during his rehab assignment before rejoining the Rangers, manager Jeff Banister said. It’s unclear how Hamilton, who hit .253/.291/.441 with eight home runs in 182 plate appearances last year, will fit into the Rangers’ outfield plans when he returns. In addition to Hamilton, Shin-Soo Choo should come back later this month month from a calf injury to join an outfield that has mostly relied on Nomar Mazara, Delino DeShields and Ian Desmond this year.
Craig Kimbrel’s Red Sox career hasn’t gotten off to a particularly auspicious start, but manager John Farrell tells ESPN Boston’s Scott Lauber that the club still has “full trust” in its closer. While many fans might be panicking to some extent with Kimbrel having compiled a 5.00 ERA with a pair of homers allowed through his first nine innings of work, Lauber notes that Kimbrel encountered a similarly unproductive stretch to open last season before righting the ship and dominating over the season’s final five months. Kimbrel blames location of a few poorly placed fastballs to Chris Davis and Colby Rasmus for the pair of homers, noting that it’s early and that by season’s end, “…we’re going to be looking back at this and talking a little differently.”
More from the AL East…
- Though Rick Porcello’s $82.5MM contract extension with the Red Sox is often lumped in with other ill-fated signings in Boston, the Herald’s Evan Drellich writes that Porcello has quietly begun to make the deal look more palatable. Across Porcello’s past 11 starts (dating back to his activation from the DL last August), he’s posted a 3.51 ERA with the eighth-best K/9 rate among AL starters (9.51) and the sixth-lowest BB/9 rate (1.64). GM Mike Hazen spoke highly of Porcello’s perseverance through a difficult first half last season, and Porcello himself spoke to Drellich about mechanical adjustments he’s made and a lack of well-executed pitches during his struggles. A rival executive from an AL team said of Porcello’s deal that it’s “not the most club-friendly, but not terrible,” which isn’t exactly a glowing review but speaks to the possibility that Porcello could still make good on the contract. I’d also add that while Porcello’s 4.66 ERA this season is unsightly, he rates third among MLB starters in K%-BB% and is regarded much more favorably by metrics like xFIP (2.89) and SIERA (2.54).
- It remains unclear whether David Murphy will seek to join another organization after opting out of his deal with the Twins, but if he does, the Red Sox don’t have interest in bringing him back, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford reports (Twitter link). Murphy spent the spring with Boston, but exercised his opt-out clause and was released just before the start of the season when he didn’t make the Opening Day roster.
- Following Chris Colabello’s 80-game suspension for a failed PED test, Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com doesn’t expect the Blue Jays to “replace” the first baseman/outfielder in a traditional sense by acquiring another right-handed bat (links to Twitter). Rather, he notes that a contact-oriented, left-handed bat that can handle first base, outfield and DH is a more pressing need for the Blue Jays, who already have a very right-leaning lineup that is prone to strikeouts. Also impacting the Jays’ current roster construction, he tweets, is the fact that backstop Russell Martin is dealing with some lingering neck issues. Morosi further lists (link) the Cardinals as an eventual trade deadline partner given the presence of left-handed first basemen Matt Adams and Brandon Moss on their roster.
- For now, at least, the Blue Jays appear likely to bring third baseman Matt Dominguez onto the major league roster, as Sportsnet.ca’s Nicholson-Smith and Shi Davidi report (Twitter links). Toronto plans to option righty Drew Hutchison back down to clear an active roster spot, but needs to wait for him to clear optional assignment waivers since he has over three years of service. (That’s a revocable waiver placement that is typically a formality.) Manager John Gibbons suggested that the Jays prefer to have a right-handed hitter who can play third and first, which points to Dominguez. The 26-year-old hasn’t seen the majors since 2014, but has shown twenty-homer pop before and is off to a solid .311/.333/.475 start in his 66 Triple-A plate appearances on the year.
- Yahoo’s Jeff Passan chatted with Orioles closer Zach Britton about the struggles of Baltimore’s four once-vaunted pitching prospects under now-former pitching coach Rick Adair. Britton — along with Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz — was at one point looked as a building block for the rotation in Baltimore. Instead, only Tillman has experienced success in the Orioles’ rotation (and probably not to the extent which many had hoped), though Matusz and especially Britton have been productive in relief roles. In Britton’s view, the Orioles’ pitching philosophies between the minors and Majors were contradictory. “They took away the individual approach to everything,” he explained to Passan. “Things we did extremely well in the minor leagues to get to the big leagues – we were told that just doesn’t work here.” Britton feels that Arrieta could have flourished in Baltimore under new pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti but says his former teammate may have lost confidence in his abilities toward the end of his Baltimore tenure.
- Short-term injuries to Aaron Hicks and Alex Rodriguez have left the Yankees with some roster difficulties, writes River Ave. Blues’ Mike Axisa. With both players sidelined around five to six days, the Yankees are looking at playing with a two-man bench, which of course is hardly ideal. Axisa notes that the club does have some 40-man flexibility due to other more serious injuries, though, and opines that placing both Hicks and Rodriguez on the 15-day DL (even if it’s longer than needed) is preferable to simply playing short for a few days. Axisa runs down some bench options in the duo’s absence, including Nick Swisher, who is hitting well in Triple-A and will see his first outfield action tonight.
- Yankees’ minor-league righty James Kaprielian, the club’s first-round choice from 2015, has been shut down with elbow inflammation, the club announced (via Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal, on Twitter). He’ll hit the minor league DL and will be “treated conservatively” before he begins throwing again, per the club, which says there’s still no timetable for his return. Kaprielian, 22, was seen as a quick-to-the-majors arm, and he has impressed thus far in his professional career. Over 18 innings in three starts this year at the High-A level, he owns a 1.50 ERA with 22 strikeouts against just three walks and eight hits.
There are several big-picture reasons for the Yankees’ lack of free agent spending this offseason, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan writes. With a new collective bargaining agreement looming, the Yankees may be hesitant to commit millions more in player salaries until they know what the new luxury tax and revenue-sharing formulas will entail. Sources tell Passan that the luxury tax limit is likely to be raised from $189MM and New York therefore has a better chance of getting under the new threshold to lower its yearly penalty rate. Between cutting down on luxury tax payments and losing several huge contracts (Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, etc.) over the next two seasons, it could position the Yankees to splurge in the incredibly star-studded 2018-19 free agent market. The crown jewel of this free agent class is Bryce Harper, who has long been considered a future Yankees target — “their future marriage is considered so inevitable by most in the sport,” Passan writes.
Here’s more from around the AL East…
- The Red Sox may not be in a rush to sign Mookie Betts or Xander Bogaerts to extensions, the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier writes. Even if Betts and Bogaerts continue to blossom into superstars, waiting another year to explore extensions might cost Boston only a couple of million dollars, a negligible amount for a big-market team. The two players may themselves have reason to wait, as Speier cites the argument from Over the Monster’s Matt Collins that Betts and Bogaerts may want to see what the next CBA holds before committing to long-term deals. Given the huge recent free agent contracts signed by players in their 20’s, Betts and Bogaerts also might not want to sign away any of their free agent years in an extension when a much larger score could await them down the road.
- In a recent podcast interview with WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford, Rick Porcello discussed the decision process that went into signing his four-year, $82.5MM extension with the Red Sox last offseason. Without that contract, Porcello would’ve been a free agent this winter on the heels of a pretty shaky 2015 campaign. Despite the righty’s struggles, Bradford notes that Porcello still could’ve found himself a healthy contract on the open market — Jeff Samardzija and Ian Kennedy both landed large multi-year deals despite coming off of rough seasons themselves, and Porcello is four years younger than either of those pitchers.
- Jesse Chavez’s arbitration hearing with the Blue Jays took place Friday and a decision is expected today, according to the Associated Press. Chavez is arguing for a $4MM salary in 2016 while the Jays countered with a $3.6MM offer.
- Mark Trumbo is excited to be an Oriole, he tells MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko, though he was surprised when the O’s acquired him from the Mariners since he didn’t know the club had interest. Trumbo believes he’s a better first baseman than outfielder, though with Chris Davis now back at first for years to come in Baltimore, Trumbo says “it doesn’t matter to me one bit” where he slots into the lineup as long as it helps the team win.
Though the Rays are on pace for their second straight losing season, the team’s pitching depth gives them hope for a turn-around in 2016, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi will be joined in the rotation by the now-healthy Matt Moore and Drew Smyly. The fifth spot will be contested between Erasmo Ramirez, Nate Karns or top prospect Blake Snell, with Alex Colome and Matt Andriese on hand as further depth options. That’s not even counting Alex Cobb, who will be back from Tommy John surgery late next season. While Tampa certainly may want to hang onto its pitching depth given the team’s recent injury issues, I would think the Rays may also considering dangling an arm or two as trade bait this winter to add some offensive help.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Adam Jones plans to speak to owner Peter Angelos about the Orioles’ offseason plans, the outfielder tells the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly. It will be a challenging winter for the O’s with eight free agents, though Jones feels most of them would come back for the right offer since “it’s a great place to play. I know they all like being here.” If some leave, Jones notes that the silver lining is freed-up payroll space. “It’s going to be exciting to see what goes on this offseason because I know when you have a lot of free agents that means you have a lot of money to spend,” Jones said. “And so, hopefully, I can influence some officials to spend a little bit of that money.”
- Last winter saw the Orioles also lose Nelson Cruz, Andrew Miller and Nick Markakis to free agency, and another free agent exodus could threaten this competitive chapter in O’s history, as closer Zach Britton notes to Connolly. “If you look at it, our window was a three- to four-year window that everyone was talking about. ’OK, if we’re going to do it, now is the time.’ So, yeah, if we lose every single guy [to free agency], it’s going to be a real challenge to have to replace them,” Britton said. “You have to do it through the draft, you’ve got to do it through trades or do it through signing free agents. We’ve got to do it somehow.”
- Two of those free agents say they want to return to the Orioles. Steve Pearce tells Connolly that “I’d love to be back. I’d love for everybody to be back,” while Matt Wieters tells MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski that he knows this could be his last few days in a Baltimore uniform. “I’m trying to embrace it and enjoy this last bit of the season,” Wieters said. “I’ve been very fortunate being able to to be here as long as I have and would love to stay here. But that is all stuff that will be controlled and talked about in the offseason.”
- There is “healthy skepticism” around baseball that the Red Sox will fully explore having Hanley Ramirez as a full-time first baseman next year, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports. This and the hefty $66MM still owed to Ramirez will make it difficult for the Sox to get any kind of decent return if they want to trade him.
- Eduardo Rodriguez isn’t technically a homegrown prospect (the Red Sox acquired him from the Orioles last summer in the Andrew Miller trade), though CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam believes the young southpaw can be the first front-of-the-rotation arm produced from Boston’s farm system since Clay Buchholz. Rodriguez, 22, has posted a 3.85 ERA, 2.65 K/BB rate and 7.2 K/9 over 121 2/3 IP for the Sox in his rookie season.
- It’s been a trying year overall for Rick Porcello, but the right-hander tells WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford that he’s learned some lessons from his first year with the Red Sox and is going into 2016 on a high note. Porcello signed a four-year, $80MM contract with Boston prior to the season and became a target of fan ire after his early struggles, though he’s pitched well since coming back from a DL stint in August.
The Yankees will welcome Masahiro Tanaka back into the rotation on Wednesday, Bryan Hoch of MLB.com tweets. It remains to be seen whether he can return yet again in top form, but at this point it’s hard to count him out. Tommy John surgery seemed inevitable, and could still be the result, yet Tanaka was excellent in his first four starts of the year before suffering the forearm strain that led to his most recent DL stint.
Here’s more on AL East starting pitching:
- Meanwhile, the Red Sox will hand the ball to rookie Eduardo Rodriguez at least once more, as Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports on Twitter. While the club will stay with a six-man rotation for now, that certainly indicates that his audition could result in a permanent spot — no surprise after an excellent first outing in which he tossed 7 2/3 shutout innings.
- Of course, the Red Sox rotation still has issues. Rick Porcello’s struggles are one significant concern, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe recently explained that Porcello has shown little sign of being a top-of-the-rotation starter. Boston owes him $82.5MM over the next four years under his recent extension — not exactly “ace” money, but quite a bit — but Porcello is carrying a 5.37 ERA. The good news is that Porcello, still just 26, is producing an 8.5% swinging strike rate (on the high side for him) and has increased his velocity from last year.
- It has been a breakout year for Jake Odorizzi of the Rays, who owns a 2.31 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .210/.248/.327 batting line. If that sounds impressive, it’s not exactly all that Odorizzi is aiming for, as Matt Stein of Sports Talk Florida reports. “That’s my mindset every time,” he said. “Starts with trying to throw a perfect game, move on to a no-hitter, shutout. Just kind of work your way down the line. That’s the mindset I take into every game to be honest with you.” There’s plenty more value for Tampa Bay to tap into, as Odorizzi had just over one year of service time entering the season. All said, it’s beginning to look like it might be time to re-weigh yet again the deal that brought Odorizzi and Wil Myers to the Rays in exchange for James Shields and Wade Davis.
Rick Porcello removed himself from next offseason’s free-agent market by signing a four-year, $82.5MM extension with the Red Sox, but the strong class of starting pitching next offseason (David Price, Jordan Zimmermann, Johnny Cueto, and so on) did not play a significant role in his decision, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes. “I don’t think it factors in that much in regards to my situation because I’m a lot younger than those guys,” Porcello says. “I felt like whatever career numbers they have, I feel confident that I’m going to have a good year this year and if I did that I would have no problem putting myself up against those guys.” Porcello is surely right that his age would have been a significant point in his favor had he become a free agent — he doesn’t turn 27 until December and would have been an exceptionally young player on the open market. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez will have an MRI on his pitching elbow, Clark Spencer of MLB.com tweets. MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro adds (also via Twitter) that the Marlins are worried about Alvarez’s shoulder as well. The 24-year-old is coming off an excellent season in which he posted a 2.65 ERA with 5.3 K/9 and just 1.6 BB/9 in 187 innings. As Spencer suggests, a significant injury to Alvarez would be a big setback for the Marlins, who last year lost another top starter, Jose Fernandez, to an elbow injury.
- The Rays had David DeJesus on the trade market this spring, but now he’s helping them, hitting a three-run homer Sunday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Fellow lefty John Jaso’s Opening-Day wrist injury carved out a bit of playing time for DeJesus. “I was taking spring training as my opportunity to go out there and show pretty much all of baseball that I can still play,” says DeJesus. “Now I’m playing for these guys, and it’s great. I’d rather it be this way because you build relationships throughout spring training and throughout the last two-three years.”
The Indians fell two batters shy of a combined no-hitter in today’s 5-1 win over the Astros. Trevor Bauer (six innings), Kyle Crockett and Scott Atchison (one inning each) kept Houston hitless through much of the game, but Nick Hagadone allowed a one-out solo homer to Jed Lowrie in the ninth to end the bid. Cleveland’s last no-hitter came on May 15, 1981 when Len Barker threw a perfect game against the Blue Jays. Here’s some news from around the baseball world…
- Lance Lynn has brought “exceptional value to the Cardinals,” Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, especially in comparison to what the Red Sox just paid Rick Porcello in an extension; Miklasz considers Porcello an “overrated talent.” While I agree that Lynn has been a good find for the Cards, I’m not sure his three-year, $22MM extension from earlier this winter is a good comparable for Porcello’s four-year, $82MM extension. Lynn’s extension only covered his three arbitration seasons while Porcello’s deal was bound to be more expensive since it covered four free agent years, not to mention the fact that Lynn is over 19 months older than Porcello.
- Ryan Zimmerman thinks the Nationals are well-positioned for long-term success even if they some key players in free agency this winter, he tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. “I know a lot of the guys in here know there is a good chance that everyone is not going to be back. If it was up to us, obviously, we want everyone to come back, but that’s not how the business works,” Zimmerman said. “I think [the front office] has a done a really good job of drafting and getting guys up to take [their] place. I think whether it’s all of them, none of them or some of them, I think we are going to be good for a long time no matter what.” Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Denard Span and Jordan Zimmermann can all become free agents after the 2015 season.
- The recent spate of Tommy John surgeries has drawn more attention to the procedure, and ESPN.com’s Stephania Bell delves into the numbers behind these surgeries. Bell’s piece explores such topics as why TJ operations are becoming more frequent, how the surgery impacts pitchers’ future performance and how Major League Baseball is trying to determine if there’s a root cause to this increase in UCL injuries.