Tag:AL East
Posted on: March 23, 2011 12:09 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:23 pm
 

Jays notebook: Club intends to run more

DrabekBy Evan Brunell

GM Alex Anthopoulous and manager John Farrell took to the airwaves Wednesday morning to talk about all things Blue Jays. And there were plenty of topics covered.

Farrell, for his part, skirted around the issue of what the Blue Jays did in the past, always a difficult thing to do when you disagree with the philosophy but don't want to burn bridges.

"Planning against [the Blue Jays while with the Red Sox] felt like it was more of a one-dimensional approach," Farrell said according to Drunk Jays Fans (warning: some language). "Now, I'm not saying that's a wrong approach, but I just know that, going up against other teams, it was much more difficult to approach or plan for a team when they had the ability to attack you with different methods. To be more opportunistic is probably I'd best describe it.

"Again, I don't think it's a matter of saying what was done in the past was wrong," he added. "I just feel like -- put it this way, it would be, I think, more of a complete type of game, or a complete style of game, rather than just that one dimension."

It's in this vein that Farrell plans to let players loose on the basepaths more than previous seasons, as that's the quickest fix toward improving the team. Farrell would also undoubtedly like to diversify the offense at the plate beyond being home-run happy, but that will come in due time.

Anthopoulous then came on the airwaves to touch on multiple topics, two of the most compelling being the rotation and service-time manipulation.

The rotation is expected to have Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow at the top, and AA isn't expecting issues from them. However, the pitchers set to round out the rotation -- or those still in contention for a spot -- do have specific aspects the GM needs to see improve.

With Jo-Jo Reyes, in the hunt for the last spot although he's likely to be moved to the bullpen, the lefty needs to stay down in the zone and deploy his secondary stuff effectively. Sounds obvious for pretty much any pitcher to succeed, but it's this aspect that tends to derail a lot of careers. It's not easy to do.

Kyle Drabek (pictured), who is expected to win a rotation spot, needs to be calm on the mound and (surprise), be down in the zone along with featuring his changeup. Meanwhile, Jesse Litsch needs to be able to throw strikes, which can be problematic coming back from Tommy John Surgery

Lastly, while Brett Lawrie has virtually no chance of making the club thanks to Juan Rivera blocking him, "there's a reason he's still here," Anthopoulous said. "He's probably better than we had hoped for at this stage."

That turned to a discussion on service-time manipulation, which is always a factor with rookies and came into play last year with Buster Posey. He believes service time can be folded into the club's goal of doing certain things better than the competition, similar to Tampa Bay's chase for the extra two percent. That includes how players are treated along with what travel, the clubhouse and other factors are like, and service-time manipulation falls into that category, as players know when they aren't being "treated the right way."

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Posted on: March 23, 2011 10:30 am
Edited on: March 23, 2011 11:42 am
 

Pepper: Greinke explains why Nationals were nixed

Greinke

By Evan Brunell

JUST WIN, BABY: Zack Greinke spoke about rejecting a trade to the Nationals in favor of the Brewers, turning down an extension that would have been worth over $100 million.

The reason for the deal, Greinke says, has nothing to do with having anything against Washington. In fact, Greinke wouldn't rule out going to the Nationals once he hits free agency, but Milwaukee is where he wanted to be.

"The one thing I couldn’t get over was the fact that, here I was trying to get out of Kansas City because the team wasn’t good," Greinke said. "Not saying [the Nationals] don’t have a chance, but I was trying to get to a team that was looking really good at the moment. And I believe [the Nationals] will be good eventually."

In addition, Greinke cited the fact that Washington would have given up too much of its building blocks that could take the team into contention, including Jordan Zimmermann, Danny Espinosa and others. Milwaukee, meanwhile, coughed up players that weren't crucial to the contending process.

But for now, Greinke is with the Brew Crew and rehabilitating a cracked rib. While everyone involved would prefer Greinke was healthy, the extra time has allowed those in the organization to get to know Greinke. (Washington Post)

STICK TO THE MALL: Tommy Hilfiger came out with some redesigns of iconic sports uniforms with his take on the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Lakers, Montreal Canadiens and New York Yankees. Umm, Tommy... stick with what's gotten you here, 'kay? (San Antonio Express News)

WELCOME TO THE JOB: In Joe Garagiola, Jr.'s first ruling, baseball's new disciplinarian is expected to hand down a ruling on the Cardinals-Nationals fracas from Tuesday in which Livan Hernandez admitted plunking Colby Rasmus on purpose. It's unclear how hard Garagiola will come down, but expect fines at the very least. (Washington Post)

POLE POSITION: “MLB wants to play in Europe and the Netherlands have conquered pole position," says MLB's director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The Netherlands are on track to build a baseball stadium for 2014 to host baseball's first European games in Hoofddorp, a 30-minute drive from Amsterdam. Germany (Regensburg) and Italy (Rome) are also in contention. (Mister Baseball

"NOW PLAYING CENTER FIELD -- WAIT, WHAT?" Jason Bay took a turn in center field for the Mets on Tuesday, and it could be something you see again. Skipper Terry Collins says Bay could play center in a pinch as he will not allow Carlos Beltran to return to center at any point. (New York Times)

Josh Hamilton v.2: Everyone knows Josh Hamilton's story, but have you heard of Jeff Allison? The Marlins grabbed him with their first-round pick in 2003 after Hamilton was named Baseball America's High School Player of the Year. Two heroin overdoses and an Oxycontin addiction later, Allison seemed on the verge of leaving baseball -- and life. But he's been clean for over four years now and got his first taste of the majors Tuesday. (Miami Herald)

ROTATING LINEUP: Joe Maddon would love to have a set lineup for the Rays, but that's not going to happen. There's too much good information, he says, that comes from within the organization regarding production against certain pitchers and especially this year, Maddon plans to take advantage of it. (MLB.com)

TALKING CONTRACT: Adrian Gonzalez's agent, John Boggs, was in town on Tuesday to talk contract with the Red Sox. Both sides came away optimistic, and -- stop me if you haven't heard this before -- expect an extension to be consummated in April. (Boston Globe)

IZZY'S FINE: One of the more intriguing stories of spring training was Jason Isringhausen's return to the majors with the Mets. An injury appeared to have perhaps changed that, but Isringhausen says the injury won't knock him out for a while and he should still be ready for Opening Day. (New York Post)

STILL NO NO. 5: The Cubs still haven't made any decisions on who the No. 5 starter will be, so Carlos Silva gets another chance to turn his spring training around when he draws the start in Wednesday's spring-training game. (Chicago Tribune)

RIDE THE PONY: A classic restaurant that was the staple of baseball people in Scottsdale, Ariz. for a decade has reopened under new ownership and has drawn rave reviews for ... keeping things exactly the same, which is how patrons of the restaurant like it. (Washington Post)

ORGAN MUSIC: A nice little story on the White Sox's new organist, replacing one who retired after 40 years on the job. (Chicago Tribune)

REMEMBERING STEVE OLIN AND TIM CREWS: Tuesday was the 18th anniversary of the tragedy that took the lives of Indians pitchers Steve Olin and Tim Crews. A look back... (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

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Posted on: March 22, 2011 11:35 pm
 

O's Britton turning heads this spring

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Zach BrittonBaltimore's top pitching prospect, 23-year-old left-hander Zach Britton, has done nothing to hurt his stock this spring. Britton allowed his first run of the spring in a five-inning effort against the Yankees on Tuesday.

In all, he's pitched 14 innings and allowed 14 hits, walked four and struck out nine, with a hit batter for good measure.

While his spring performance has impressed the Orioles' brass, it's unlikely earn him a spot on the big league roster -- at least for the start of the season. He's currently scheduled to start one of the team's split-squad games on Sunday.

"He's scheduled, but somethingg could happen in the meeting where that may change," manager Buck Showalter told reporters, including the Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec

The Orioles are expected to make another round of cuts on Wednesday, and Britton could be one of those re-assigned to Triple-A.

Britton's only made 12 starts at Triple-A, going 3-4 with a 2.98 ERA at Norfolk last season, striking out 56 batters in 66 innings. Britton's sinkerball produced a 2.8 groundout/airout ratio last season, but his fastball can still get up to 94 mph.

Zrebiec writes that the Orioles aren't as worried about his Super 2 status as much as they are his big league service time, and will wait until after April 21 to call him up in order to avoid losing him to free agency a year earlier than they'd like.

Britton said he thinks he deserves a shot, even if it's unlikely to happen.

"I think there's stuff I can improve on, but me personally, I think that's stuff I can do not just in Triple-A, but in the big leagues," Britton told reporters (via MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko). "The stuff I need to work on isn't hindering me from pitching in the big leagues. It's just about getting experience. I feel like I did what I needed to do coming into camp. Hopefully, I'll get another start or two and we'll see what happens."

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Posted on: March 22, 2011 10:14 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/22: Fox strikes again

Jake Fox

By C. Trent Rosecrans

3 UP

1. Orioles bats -- Jake Fox, pictured, hit his eighth homer of the spring for Baltimore, but he wasn't alone in peppering Yankees pitching on Tuesday. Luke Scott hit a shot over the scoreboard in right-center. J.J. Hardy also homered. The Orioles are slugging .445 this spring, the best mark by an American League team in Florida. The Phillies at .447 are the only Grapefruit League team with a better slugging percentage.

2. Wandy Rodriguez, Astros -- Sidelined the last two weeks with left shoulder tendinitis, Houston's left-hander allowed three hits and an unearned run in four innings, throwing 40 strikes in 60 pitches. Rodriguez is scheduled to start again on Sunday and then face Cliff Lee in the Astros' second game of the regular season.

3. Travis Buck, Indians -- The Indians outfielder had two homers in Tuesday's game against the Diamondbacks, raising his spring total to four. He had four total homers in 177 at-bats between the minors and the A's last season.

3 DOWN

1. Adam Dunn, White Sox -- Chicago's new slugger struck out three times on Tuesday in an 0-for-4 performance, giving him 22 strikeouts this spring. He's hitting .208/.311/.358 this spring with one homer in a team-leading 53 at-bats.

2. Mike Leake, Reds -- The day after it looked like Leake had his ticket to Cincinnati punched thanks to Johnny Cueto's injury, the A's took BP on the Reds' right-hander. Leake gave up single runs in each of the first two innings on Tuesday and then allowed five in the third, while recording only one out. In all he gave up six hits, seven earned runs, walked four and saw his ERA rise to 9.39. Daric Barton and Coco Crisp both hit solo homers off of Leake.

3. Welington Castillo, Cubs -- A rough day for Castillo, who nearly beat out an infield single, but showed his catchers speed and was thrown out in his only plate appearance of the day. Sure, lots of folks went 0 for 1 on Tuesday, but not many saw their average drop from .706 to .667. Castillo has 12 hits in 18 at-bats, plus two walks, so his on-base percentage is still .700. For those of you not used to that statistic, it's officially "not too bad."

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Posted on: March 22, 2011 3:26 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 4:09 pm
 

Jays field possible opening day lineup

DotelBy Evan Brunell

The Toronto Blue Jays are readying for opening day, deploying a lineup in Tuesday's spring-training game that could be the lineup manager John Farrell trots out for his managerial debut, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports.

That lineup is:

CF Rajai Davis
SS Yunel Escobar
DH Jose Bautista
1B Adam Lind
2B Aaron Hill
3B Edwin Encarnacion
LF Travis Snider
RF Juan Rivera
C J.P. Arencibia

The only differences that could occur are Bautista and Encarnacion swapping positions, as EdE isn't expected to play much at the hot corner while that will be Bautista's new home.

Rivera is tabbed for right despite being defensively challenged. Snider is as well, though, and has only 57 games in right to his name in the majors while Rivera has 272. Neither have right field as their primary position but it appears Toronto will have to sacrifice defense given the team's composition.

In other news, Knobler reports that relievers Frank Francisco and Octavio Dotel (pictured) may hit the disabled list to start the year, with GM Alex Anthopoulous believing it is possible neither can be ready in time -- but that's not definite.

Francisco felt discomfort during a bullpen session Saturday in his pectoral muscle, but a MRI came back clean. He is scheduled to see Dr. James Andrews, which makes one immediately think "Tommy John surgery," but the Jays do not expect that type of news. Meanwhile, Dotel's left hamstring injury has kept him out of major-league spring training games for a week, but tossed an inning Tuesday in a minor-league game. The club expects him to be ready, but if not, Jon Rauch will likely function as closer until both return.

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Posted on: March 22, 2011 10:26 am
Edited on: March 22, 2011 11:16 am
 

Pepper: After death of child, Cordero persevering

Cordero

By Evan Brunell

WORST NIGHTMARE: After midnight the morning of Dec. 4, former Nationals closer Chad Cordero got the worst news one could get: his three-month old daughter was dead from SIDS, otherwise known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Cordero was once one of the best closers in the game, saving 47 games for the inaugural season of the Washington Nationals after coming up with the Mariners. Cordero's been a non-entity for years now, struggling with injuries amid stints with the Mariners and Mets. He is now in camp with the Blue Jays, but first had to go through a horrific experience. His daughter, Teyta, was staying with his grandparents and was put to bed to sleep, but was checked on regularly. The last checkup came around midnight before Cordero's mother, Patti, discovered Teyta had passed at 12:45 a.m.

It was, like, so hard -- for weeks," wife Jamie Cordero said. "Like you didn’t want to go to sleep, because you just felt that much further away from her, like it really happened. But looking back right now, I’m just glad those first few weeks are over, because it’s just like hell."

Cordero is slated to appear in his first major-league game on Tuesday and will do so with Teyta near him, as he had her face tattooed on his left forearm. It's not clear how realistic a shot Cordero has at the big-league roster, but there's one person in Toronto who believes in him.

"If there was anybody who would fight back, it would be him," Toronto scouting director Dana Brown said, who drafted Cordero when with Montreal. (Washington Post)

STAKE IN METS TO DEPEND ON MONEY: The reports of the Mets selling 20-25 percent of the club are technically not true. While that could end up being the percentage of the team sold, the goal for the Wilpons is to sell whatever share meshes with a specific amount the team is looking for. While this amount would be nowhere near what's needed to gain majority control, it does mean that the new owner could own as much as a third of the company, if not more. It will all come down to what the Mets are valued at. (New York Daily News)

WHO WILL START? The Brewers are having trouble finding a solution to replace Zack Greinke, but the team continues to insist that it will fill the spot internally, with Marco Estrada the latest candidate who will draw the start Tuesday. The club is keeping an eye on the open market, though, and while they won't bring in someone making significant dollars, there will be some intriguing names that could be available. If the Cubs release Carlos Silva, he could head to Milwaukee. The same goes for the Yankees and Freddy Garcia, who may have lost the No. 5 spot to Bartolo Colon. (MLB.com)

UPTON GLAD FOR SUPPORT: B.J. Upton wasn't really paying attention to racial remarks an Orioles fan yelled out during a spring-training game Sunday, but manager Joe Maddon certainly was -- and so were other members of the team who spoke up. Upton, for his part, says he hears these type of  comments constantly. "There's 30, 40,000 people in the stands; you're bound to hear it. It's 2011, you know what I mean, but it is what it is. Freedom of speech, I guess." (Tampa Tribune)

THE BEST WEAPON: Manager Terry Francona doesn't have any interest in returning to a closer by committee, which Boston tried the year before Tito arrived. However, he clearly recognizes the value of having a top set up man to deploy where needed, calling Daniel Bard "the best weapon you can have. ... Sometimes you wait to get to your closer, you’ve already lost. With guys like Bard, it’s bases loaded, seventh inning, you’re going to win or lose right there."

I JUST PLAY: Jake Peavy would love to stay on schedule and be ready for opening day, but he realizes that manager Ozzie Guillen is the man that makes the decisions. Peavy took care to make clear he wasn't interested in calling the shots and has not done so all spring. In light of Peavy's recent setback, the team will exercise caution in working the righty back into the rotation given how close he is to returning to action. (ChicagoBreakingSports.com)

PICK-TO-CLICK: Devin Mesoraco won't be making the Reds' roster, but he's caught the eye of manager Dusty Baker, who called the backstop his "pick-to-click" player. He could be the first option up from Triple-A if Ramon Hernandez and/or Ryan Hanigan get injured. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

ROAD TO THE BIGS: South Korea said no. Japan said no. So Tim Redding returned stateside and is now on the verge of making the major-league roster for the Dodgers as Vincente Padilla and Jon Garland have both been knocked out by injuries. You don't see that kind of story often. (Los Angeles Times)

BACK IN CENTER: Grady Sizemore will clear another hurdle Thursday when he plays center field for three innings for the first time since having microfracture surgery on his left knee in June. He served as DH in a game Sunday and will likely fill that capacity again on Thursday. (MLB.com)

LEAVING VIERA? The Nationals have been rumored to be looking for a new spring-training destination for quite some time. And now, from the mouth of owner Ted Lerner, it's confirmed that Washington is looking to move out from the east coast of Florida to cut down on travel time. While they would like to stay in Florida, Arizona is not being ruled out. (Washington Post)

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Posted on: March 21, 2011 11:16 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:30 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/21: Colon making his case

Bartolo Colon

By C. Trent Rosecrans

3 UP

1.  Bartolo Colon, Yankees -- While many scoffed at the idea of Colon coming back after a year off and joining the Yankees' rotation, he's certainly making his case. Colon, 37, had another strong outing on Monday. Colon retired 18 of the 20 batters he faced, including five strikeouts. He allowed two hits and a run.  In 15 innings this spring, he has a 2.40 ERA, with 17 strikeouts and one walk.

2. Joe Mauer, Twins -- It's not just that Mauer had two hits and an RBI against the Pirates on Monday, but he also caught six innings. It was Mauer's second start behind the plate of spring.

3. Mets second basemen -- Now that the Luis Castillo soap opera is behind us, the Mets four remaining candidates for the second base job all contributed in a four-run ninth to lead New York past Atlanta. Brad Emaus, Daniel Murphy and Luis Hernandez each had run-scoring hits, while Justin Turner was hit by a pitch.

3 DOWN

1. Arizona -- Isn't Arizona supposed to be a desert? Six Cactus League games were banged on Monday because of rain.

2. Mike Pelfrey, Mets -- The Mets' opening day starter was pounded for seven runs (four earned) and seven hits by the Braves. Pelfrey allowed six consecutive hits to start the ending and when it appeared he'd actually record an out, David Wright's error allowed another run to score. He finally retired the eight batter of the inning, only to be lifted due to a high pitch count.

3. Some fans -- Rays manager Joe Maddon had a fan tossed from Sunday's game after the fan made racial comments toward outfielder B.J. Upton. Upton said Monday that he heard the comments, but was more worried about his game. Upton said it's not the first time he's heard such comments (via MLB.com) -- "A lot of times, it happens when I'm in the outfield of a visiting stadium. Even I've heard it at home, too. I think it was just a situation where everyone heard it. Put it this way -- it's not too far-fetched to hear it." That's not surprising, but it's still sad.

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Posted on: March 21, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Report: Yankees have interest in Perez

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Oliver PerezSports Illustrated's Jon Heyman isn't the type of reporter to make stuff up just for fun, but if he were, he could do worse than his latest tweet -- that the Yankees are interested in former Mets lefty Oliver Perez "as a cheap sign."

Heyman notes that the Yankees officials have discussed it, but that Brian Cashman isn't "enthused" with the possibility, so it's not likely to happen.

He also says the Diamondbacks, with Kevin Towers, are Perez's best hope.

Perez will get a chance somewhere, that much is sure. He's talented and he'll cost next-to-nothing once he goes through waivers (and nobody is picking him up on waivers). If Perez is willing to go to Triple-A to prove himself, it could happen. Stranger things have happened (remember Jose Lima's comeback?)

As far as the teams a fits, a miracle fits with just about anybody, so 29 teams -- including the Yankees -- are likely discussing adding him right now.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com