Tag:AL East
Posted on: March 11, 2011 9:30 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/11: Trumbo on fire

By Matt Snyder

Get the lame nickname people ready, because this dude's last name rhymes with a certain floppy-eared elephant from a Disney classic.

3 UP

Mark Trumbo, Angels. The 25-year-old slugger has been on fire this spring and Friday was no different. Trumbo doubled, homered, drove home four runs and scored two. He's now hitting .389 this spring with four home runs and 11 RBI. He's currently stuck behind Kendrys Morales (1B) and Bobby Abreu (DH) on the depth chart for the major-league roster, but at some point the team can't leave him behind. He's already torn Triple-A pitching to shreds (36 HR, 122 RBI, .945 OPS last year in 139 games). He's hit at every level, so maybe it's time he gets a shot in the majors -- lest he become another Brandon Wood

Carlos Pena, Cubs. He entered Friday just 2-17 with nary an extra-base hit, but a home run and RBI single likely took a bit of mental weight off the free agent signee's shoulders.

Jeremy Hellickson, Rays. The 23-year-old phenom hadn't yet pitched this spring, as he's been hampered with hamstring tightness. No matter, his first outing was spotless. Just a simple perfect inning, and he struck one batter out.

3 DOWN

Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox. Pretty solid meltdown for Paps, actually. He only got one out, but he walked three guys, hit one and allowed a hit. Before the book was closed, after his departure, three earned runs would be the final tally. Don't read anything into it. It's not uncommon for a guy to have poor command on March 11 and still be perfectly fine a month from now.

Gio Gonzalez, A's. Man, what a bum (please note sarcasm). Gonzalez hadn't yet allowed a run this spring. In fact, he hadn't even allowed a hit. So the outing Friday -- when he gave up four hits and one run -- may have looked poor by comparison, the conclusion is still a positive one.

Michael Pineda, Mariners. Man, what a bum, Part II. The burly Mariners prospect (he is 6-foot-7, 260 pounds) had not allowed a run through four spring innings prior to Friday. He gave up four hits and two runs in three innings to the Indians. But, like Gonzalez, the whole picture of his spring is a good one. He's still sporting a 2.57 ERA and opponents are only hitting .192 against him.

So, yeah, we picked two in "3 DOWN" that could have been positive ones. That's how we're deciding to roll today. Hey, it's Friday night.

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Posted on: March 11, 2011 3:17 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 4:51 pm
 

Blue Jays name Romero opening day starter

By Matt Snyder

The Toronto Blue Jays have officially nabbed 26-year-old Ricky Romero as their opening day starter for 2011. Romero was the most obvious candidate on the Jays' rotation, but has never taken the ball on opening day. He will this time around, on April 1.

"It means everything," Romero said (via MLB.com ). "To be able to do what I've done, what I've accomplished in my first two years here in Toronto has been amazing. ... It's an honor."

Romero emerged early in 2009 as a bit of a surprise, though he slowed down a bit as the season wore along. Last season, however, he came into his own. The former first-round selection for the Jays went 14-9 with a 3.73 ERA and 174 strikeouts in 210 innings. He improved in nearly every rate stat and also threw his first three career complete games.

The announcement, along with Romero's five-year, $30 million contract he begins this season, slot Romero as the bona fide ace and leader of the staff.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 11, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 3:59 pm
 

Roberts' back acting up again

By Matt Snyder

Brian Roberts played only 59 games last season due mostly to ongoing back issues. Earlier this spring, he battled a stiff neck. Friday, Roberts was unable to take part in batting practice or infield due to back spasms. He may have to undergo some tests on his back, according to MASN.com . He hasn't played since Monday and will be out until at least Sunday.

Noticing a trend for the 33 year old? The Orioles aren't, as manager Buck Showalter says he isn't worried.

"Not at this point, not at this point," he told MASN. "There's nothing you can do about that physically. I don't think we're at that point yet where we are concerned about him opening the season."

You can't fault Showalter for being optimistic about his All-Star second baseman, but if this lingers much longer, it's time to worry if chronic back issues will plague Roberts for the latter part of his career. He was durable until last season -- playing at least 155 games for three straight seasons -- so this could very well be an anomaly. But at 33 and not being able to shake pain in the back, it's certainly worrisome at least to some extent.

UPDATE: Roberts has received "several injections" in his back and won't be back until Tuesday at the earlier, reports Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com .

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 11, 2011 11:01 am
Edited on: March 11, 2011 11:51 am
 

Pepper: Wagner coach at 28; Japan quake fallout

Pepper

By Evan Brunell

These days are certainly different for Ryan Wagner, a 2003 first-round pick of the Reds. He debuted that same year at age 21 and looked as if he would deliver on his promise, but injuries and attrition caused him to struggle over the next two years before being dealt to the Nationals in a contentious deal, with Cincinnati later alleging that the Nationals then-GM Jim Bowden wasn't up-front about the injury issues of reliever Gary Majewski. 

With the Nats, Wagner was nothing more than a fungible reliever who regressed in effectiveness before undergoing surgery for a torn labrum in 2007. After two years of trying to rehab the injury, Wagner called it quits in 2009. And now, he's a 28-year-old manager, accepting a job with the Victoria Generals in the Texas Collegiate League, a college summer league.

"The college level is where I want to be," Wagner said. "I love coaching the younger boys, but it's definitely a slowdown from the big leagues.

"With the little kids, it's fun teaching the fundamentals and watching them grow. But a lot of these kids are D-I players and when you tell them something they are able to make the adjustments." (Victoria Advocate)

DEVASTATION IN JAPAN: While Americans were sleeping soundly, Japan was the victim of the worst earthquake since 1900, measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale. A tsunami developed that will hit Hawaii, but isn't expected to devastate the island. Other places, such as Thailand, may not be so lucky. In the midst of all this, Japan has canceled all professional baseball games for Saturday along with other major sporting events. (Yakyubaya.com)

CONCERN FOR GRANDMOTHER: There are plenty of Japanese ballplayers and media members stateside for spring training that have left many scrambling to contact friends and family. One such player is Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has heard from his family and friends but has not been able to reach his grandmother. (Boston Herald)

Yankees LEGEND OK: Yogi Berra suffered a fall at Yankees spring training camp Thursday and was taken to the hospital as a precaution. The Hall of Famer is doing just fine and may even return to camp Friday. (New York Daily News)

STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES: Stephen Strasburg has had a Twitter account for several months but only recently has been tweeting with any frequency. One such tweet yesterday: "Keeping it freaking stupid with coach today!" Who knows what that means, but good to know. (Washington Post)

WILD THING: "Adaptable, even-tempered and not easily rattled" were words used to describe Charlie Sheen. Huh. Interesting. But these words are from the Sheen of three decades ago when he was a relief pitcher for Santa Monica High School. Sheen served as a "very efficient" bullpen ace, coach Jose Lopez recalls. (Los Angeles Times)

MORE Mets MESS: Everyone knows about the Wilpons' struggle to hang onto the Mets in light of the Bernie Madoff scandal, but there's an entirely different scandal being dealt with at this point. Back in November, the Mets fired team employee Charlie Samuels, who admitted to gambling on baseball and also provided mob associates with insider tips. He is also under investigation for stealing memorabilia from the Mets clubhouse and then selling them. The New York Police Department's Organized Crime and Control Bureau was at Mets camp Thursday to interview players and employees about Samuels in the hope of ferreting out more information for the case. Baseball investigators were also on hand to see if illegal gambling is being conducted by other employees and players. Investigators spoke to people with close ties to Samuels, such as  Mike Piazza and Francisco Rodriguez. (New York Daily News)

AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT GAME: Rockies manager Jim Tracy finally got Denver Nuggets basketball coach George Karl in town, with Karl assisting Tracy in managing Thursday's game. While Karl's the basketball guru, he may have had a hand in Todd Helton cracking a double, speaking to the first baseman just before the at-bat. A bit of a stretch, but whatever, it's spring training. (Denver Post)

QUESTIONING COLE: MLB Trade Rumors has a bunch of questions for college pitcher Gerrit Cole, who should be a top-five pick in the upcoming amateur draft. Cole was plucked out of high school by the Yankees, but opted to go to UCLA and doesn't regret the decision. Also in the interview: Cole's relaying of a Charlie Sheen story. (MLB Trade Rumors)

OZZIE'S IMPRESSED: Dayan Viciedo has impressed manager Ozzie Guillen the most at spring training. The Cuban defector is currently converting to right field from third base as he looks unable to field the position and first base is locked up. Viciedo was hitting .476 in spring training games but a fractured right thumb will sideline him about a month and guarantees a ticket to Triple-A, which was likely coming regardless. If he can show some semblance of plate discipline, he could be a nice bat for years to come. (Chicago Sun-Times)

ON THE WAY BACK: Erik Bedard was one of the better left-handed starters in the game but missed all of 2010 and had just 30 games started combined between 2009-10. Clearly, Seattle's trade for Bedard hasn't quite worked out, but the lefty had a strong start Thursday and felt he was approaching how he felt during his 2006-07 run. That's all well and good, but the 31-year-old needs to actually pitch in a major league game multiple times before anyone gets excited. (MLB.com)

BIG SWEAT: Dennys Reyes makes himself known to Red Sox fans, as the portly left-hander appears all but a lock to snag a spot in the Red Sox bullpen as the requisite lefty. Reyes has quite an interesting story of how he dislocated his right shoulder, which forced him to begin throwing left-handed. He didn't get the shoulder treated, which is why his right shoulder has a six-inch hunch over the left and still causes him pain on certain fielding plays. (Boston Herald)

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Posted on: March 10, 2011 9:08 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2011 9:18 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/10: Slam edition

By Matt Snyder

Hitting a grand slam is pretty cool. It's really a home run where you happened to come up to bat with the bases jacked, but, then again, batting with a runner on all three bases is a whole different animal than hitting with no one on. How about doing it two days in a row?

3 UP

Alex Liddi, Mariners. Yep, Liddi hit a granny Wednesday and followed suit Thursday. The 22-year-old third baseman has only had 11 at-bats in the spring, so he's hitting a grand slam every 5.5 at-bats. That's a pretty decent pace. Maybe pull a George Costanza and leave 'em wanting more? Just sit the rest of the spring!

Randy Wells, Cubs. Considering the pretty solid job Carlos Silva is doing imploding and the fact that the Cubs are looking to fill two spots, Wells is probably safe. He threw four shutout innings Thursday, running his spring scoreless streak -- well, counting only earned runs -- to nine. He's struck out six and only allowed eight baserunners. Also notable in this game was Andrew Cashner closed the game with four strong innings, allowing just one run (a solo homer). These two look the part as the final two members of the rotation -- but Wells is a much more sure thing.

Mike Moustakas, Royals. One of the Royals' (many) prized prospects was struggling in the spring, coming in with just three hits in 17 at-bats. Thursday, however, he collected a pair of hits in two at-bats, including a game-winning 2-RBI single in the eighth.

3 DOWN

Brad Bergesen, Orioles. According to Twitter nation, the first thing Bergesen said to reporters was, "I sucked. Any other questions?" Well, not really. We will pass along the line to those who didn't get a chance to see it: 2 2/3 innings, six hits, three earned runs, two walks. He was slated to work four innings, but couldn't make it. (via Roch Kubatko Twitter )

Tom Gorzelanny, Nationals. It was his first start of the spring, so some rust could be forgiven -- even if getting knocked around the yard by the Astros is what we're forgiving him for. The line: 2 1/3 innings, five hits, three runs (two earned), three walks and a strikeout.

Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers. The strapping closer had a disaster of an outing, getting only one out while allowing three hits, four runs, a walk, a home run and a hit batsman. He took the loss. Of course, it was only one game. In fact, all three of these pitchers here should remember that. Pitchers should always have a short memory, but especially in the spring.

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Posted on: March 10, 2011 6:06 pm
 

Dice-K still struggling, Francona not worried

By Matt Snyder

Even though we've only witnessed three starts, it's been a rough spring thus far for Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Red Sox's right-hander was shelled Thursday for five runs on five hits in 3 2/3 innings. His spring ERA is 11.42.

Now, normally this wouldn't be a cause for concern, but the Japanese import has been pretty bad the past two seasons after finishing fourth in Cy Young voting back in 2008. He wasn't near as brutal last season as he was in 2009, but still, a 4.69 ERA and 1.37 WHIP aren't really what the Red Sox ponied up top dollar for back in 2007. He still walks hitters at an incredibly high rate and gets knocked around when he does find the plate. ESPN's Buster Olney noted Thursday (via Twitter ) that some rival scouts have clocked Dice-K at just 87-90 mph and wonder if he's slowly building his arm strength. But what if he's not? Hard to get guys out with that heat and breaking stuff that doesn't consistently find the plate.

For his part, Red Sox manager Terry Francona says he isn't worried (Boston Globe ).
"I think he's in great shape. I think his shoulder's strong. The ball's coming out. He's what, eight, nine innings into camp and he hasn't commanded at times. I don't think that means he's out of shape or he's disappointing," the manager said. "A couple of outings haven't been good. I don't think we're going to pack in the season after March 9th or whatever."
It's hard to argue with that, and I'd do so with any truly established pitcher coming off a good season, or even a bad one following many good ones. But a horrible season followed by a mediocre-at-best season means the pitcher is under the microscope in spring training, whether the team likes it or not. If things don't start improving before the regular season you might start to hear Red Sox Nation pining for Tim Wakefield or even Andrew Miller.

Of course, it is worth mentioning that Dice-K is only being counted on as the fifth starter behind a pretty stacked top four -- Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz. He'll enter the season as the five and need only not be horrific to keep that spot.

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Posted on: March 10, 2011 9:57 am
Edited on: March 10, 2011 12:02 pm
 

Pepper: Rites of spring


By C. Trent Rosecrans

Every spring we get excited and pick winners for every division, count out teams, give a couple of other teams a free ride to the World Series and then sit back and are surprised when it doesn't happen.

The thing is, in baseball and in life, things change quickly and can change drastically.

Since the start of spring training games -- a little less than two weeks -- we've seen the Cardinals and Brewers lose some of their luster in the NL Central and the Phillies go from 110 wins to a struggling offense. We've even seen Carlos Zambrano be the calm, collected, sane member of the Cubs staff.

It's a rite of spring to project and to then react and overreact to anything we see on the field in these four weeks of meaningless games. And even when meaningful games start, there's enough time for injuries to happen, players to return and players to emerge to really know what's going to happen at the end.

And that's the fun of it. We don't know. You never know.

Sure, we can all expect a Red Sox-Phillies World Series, but there's no guarantee that'll happen. But if it does, I guarantee the road there will be completely different than we all imagined. And that's why this game is so great. You just never know, even if you think you know.

FEELING 'HITTERISH': Nationals über-prospect Bryce Harper has been nearly as entertaining off the field as on it, as he coin a new term on Wednesday.

From the Washington Post:

"I feel really confident in myself. There's guys who are going to come after you. I want to hit right now. I'm feeling hitterish. I'm trying to go up there and get some hacks in. I'm not going to be here for a long time. I want to try to go up there and get my hits in."

So, what's the definition of "hitterish" Adam Kilgore asked?

"You wake up in the morning, and you're feeling hitterish, you're going to get a hit that day," Harper said. "That's what it is. If you get a hit every day, you're feeling hitterish, for sure. Wake and rake."

Harper had an RBI single in his only at-bat on Wednesday and is hitting .357 this spring (in 14 at-bats).

BELTRAN BETTER: Carlos Beltran won't play in a Grapefruit League until next week, but he does feel "a lot better" and has not been "shut down." He took batting practice and played catch on Wednesday.

The Mets are looking at Willie Harris and Scott Hairston in right field if Beltran can't go, and are also giving Lucas Duda extra work in right field to prepare him to play there if needed. (New York Daily News)

GARLAND GROUNDED: Dodgers starter Jon Garland is expected to start the season on the disabled list after leaving Wednesday's game with a  strained oblique muscle on his left side. He had an MRI on Wednesday and the team is expected to announce the results today.

The team has already lost starter Vicente Padilla for at least the first month of the season after surgery to repair a nerve below his right elbow.

The injuries mean the once-pitching rich Dodgers are down to four starters, although the team won't need a fifth starter until April 12. John Ely and Tim Redding would likely be candidates if Garland and Padilla are still sidelined. (Los Angeles Times)

GOOD ADVICE: Maybe the Dodgers could get that old guy to take the mound -- the one working with Ted Lilly on Wednesday. That guy was Sandy Koufax.

"He still loves to watch baseball, loves the art of pitching," Lilly told MLB.com. "You know he was great. But he's also smart, he's passionate about pitching, he understands and sees things. Sometimes they are little things.

"I enjoy learning about baseball and talking about it with someone like Sandy Koufax, and I enjoy talking about it with Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley and Jon Garland. There are always ways to move forward, even if they are small."

ZOOM GROUNDED: Tigers manager Jim Leyland is planning his bullpen to start the season without Joel Zumaya, who has been sidelined with pain in his surgically repaired right elbow this spring.

"I don't think right now, from within camp or by trade, that you can replace a healthy Joel Zumaya -- and I emphasize a healthy  Joel Zumaya," Leyland told MLB.com. "So you have to just keep looking and try to come up with somebody, mostly from within."

The Tigers did go out and spend a lot of money on a set-up man, Joaquin Benoit, so the path leading up to closer Jose Valverde isn't barren. Ryan Perry is expected to handle seventh-inning duties, which he was expected to shoulder with Zumaya.

SALAZAR IMPROVING: Several Braves players said they feared for the worst after minor league manager Luis Salazar was hit in the face by a foul ball on Wednesday. 

"A ball hit that hard, at that short a distance, can certainly kill somebody if it hits them in the right spot," Chipper Jones told David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I'm so glad to hear that he's conscious and breathing on his own."

Salazar was hit by a foul ball off the bat of Brian McCann and was airlifted to an Orlando hospital. MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports Salazar suffered multiple facial fractures, but did not suffer any brain damage. He was able to interact with family members later Wednesday night.

D-BACKS COACH BREAKS FOOT: While not nearly as serious as Salazar's injury, the timing does take away several light-hearted remarks I could make, but Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams may miss the beginning of the regular season with a broken foot.

Williams took a line drive off the foot while throwing soft toss to his son, Jake, on Monday. He's expected to miss two-to-three weeks. (Arizona Republic)

FIRST AT FIRST: Indians catcher Carlos Santana played his first-ever professional game at first base on Wednesday.

Santana cleanly fielded all nine chances he got at first and also had a double in the Indians' 9-2 loss to the Padres.

The Indians are searching for ways to keep his bat in the lineup and keep the young catcher healthy. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

PILING ON: A New York  storage company is joining in on making jokes about the city's easiest target -- the Mets.

In an ad on the city's subways for Manhattan Mini Storage, it says, "Why leave a city that has six professional sports teams, and also the Mets?" (New York Times)

WHEN HIDEKI MET RICKY: New A's slugger Hideki Matsui has connected with team icon Rickey Henderson, whom Matsui admired growing up in Japan -- and the feeling is mutual. (MLB.com)

HIGH PRAISE: Yankees closer Mariano Rivera says 19-year-old left-hander Manny Banuelos is the best pitching prospect he's ever seen.

"I like everything about him," Rivera told ESPNNewYork.com. "The makeup and how he keeps his composure. I notice situations and how you react in situations. Where you make your pitches in tough situations, where you spot your pitchers, he has the ability to do that."

WHITE RETIRES: Former West Virginia and Miami Dolphins quarterback Pat White has retired from baseball.

After White was released by the Dolphins last September, White signed a minor-league contract with the Royals and played in the Fall Instructional League. On Wednesday, the team said White did not report to spring training.

The Dolphins drafted him in the second round of the 2009 draft. He was also drafted by the Angels, Reds and Yankees. (Associated Press)

RISING WATER: It's been raining here in Cincinnati, but check out just how much -- this photo from Reds assistant media relations director Jamie Ramsey gives you a big-picture view of just how high the water is on the banks of the Ohio River.

He adds another picture of flood gates set up around Great American Ball Park. (Better Off Red)


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Posted on: March 9, 2011 10:58 am
Edited on: March 9, 2011 1:07 pm
 

Dude, who stole my car?

By Matt Snyder

Evan Longoria has had his car stolen.

He was having a black and white 1967 Camaro -- reportedly valued at $75,000 -- refurbished in an Arizona lot and it was stolen from there, along with another car from the same lot.

"I'm sure that it's long gone by now,'' Longoria said. "I hope they find it but odds are if they do it's not going to be in the same shape when it left. .. It sucks, but what can you do. If someone is going to take something, they're going to take something. They broke through a gate and a security system to get them.'' (St. Petersburg Times )

Longoria, 25, must have a thing for classic Camaros, as he also has a 1969 Camaro SS, which he's been driving to his spring practices and games.

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