Tag:NL Central
Posted on: March 4, 2011 10:00 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 10:02 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/4: The return of Peavy

Peavy
By Evan Brunell

It feels like the days are dragging now that spring training games are started. Craving relevance, it's important to take the performances of players -- especially day-to-day ones -- this early into spring training with a grain of salt. That said, there's still plenty news of note...

3 UP

1. SP Jake Peavy, CHW: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K. Scott Miller has more on Peavy, but here's the gist: the White Sox starter pitched in a game for the first time since injuring his shoulder in July. While the road to pitching in the regular season is still long, the fact Peavy made it through a game and had no issues during and after the game is a milestone.

2. SP Bartolo Colon, NYY: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K. Who saw this coming from Colon? He flat out dominated the Red Sox and turned enough heads that one has to wonder if Colon really might claim that No. 5 spot. It's way, way too early to proclaim Colon the front-runner, but Colon was an afterthought before this start. No longer.

3. LF Nolan Reimold, BAL: 3 AB, 2 R, 1 H, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR. Reimold is battling for a spot on Baltimore's bench and is doing everything he can to avoid a demotion. Unfortunately, his inability to play center puts him behind the eight-ball. It's possible the O's could deal Reimold at the end of spring training, but that's hard to imagine given Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero are temporary. Baltimore needs to keep its depth and young players, even if that means more seasoning down on the farm.

3 DOWN

1. SP Ryan Rowland-Smith, HOU: 2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Not good for "Hyphen," who is battling for the No. 5 spot in the Astros rotation. He has no shortage of challengers, including Nelson Figueroa, Aneury Rodriguez and Jordan Lyles, plus a few others. If he fails in his quest, he will be shuttled off to the bullpen.

2. RP Juan Gutierrez, ARI: 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K. Gutierrez gave up 13 home runs last season but somehow managed to save 15 games with a 5.08 ERA. That won't repeat itself this season, and if the 27-year-old wants to be an important part of the bullpen, he can't have outings like this with plenty of competition around him.

3. CF Dexter Fowler, COL: 4 AB, 0 R, 0 H, 0 RBI, 1 K. Now with the center field job his free and clear, Fowler needs to take another step forward this year after two years of over 500 plate appearances. Fowler was good enough those seasons, but he needs to take the next step forward if he wants to be considered an integral piece of the club. A .182 average to start spring training isn't helping.

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 5:40 pm
 

Garza fine after taking liner off ribs

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Matt GarzaCubs starter Matt Garza felt good enough to joke about being hit in the ribs by a Jeff Francoeur line drive after the fact.

"It's all right," Garza told reporters (via MLB.com's Carrie Muskat on Twitter). "I've got tattoos all over my ribs."

Instead of being jabbed millions of times by a tiny needle, Garza was drilled instead by a baseball.

Garza fell to his knees after getting hit, while shortstop Starlin Castro alertly picked the ball up and got Francoeur at first. Garza then got Alex Gordon to strike out and Brayan Pena to fly out, to finish out the inning. Although he was scheduled to go three innings today, Garza understandably left after two. He gave up one hit and threw 26 pitches.

Garza wasn't having the best day to begin with, forgetting to pack his jersey in his bag before leaving the Cubs' home of HoHoKam Park in Mesa for the Royals' Surprise Stadium. He wore an extra jersey the team packs for such occasions, wearing No. 94 instead of his usual No. 17.

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 12:52 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 1:24 pm
 

Cubs' Silva tells his side of fight

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos SilvaTwo days after his dugout scuffle with Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Silva gave his side to reporters on Friday.

Silva said he was unaware the team had made nine errors in their first three games even before the three the team committed in the first inning of Silva's start. Silva said he said the team needed to "start making plays" and Ramirez "took it personally."

From the Chicago Tribune:

"In spring training, it's a little harder because we don't watch every single game," Silva said. "I didn't even know my team had made that many errors, either. That was a very hard inning, not only for my team or for my coaches, but for me. I was trying to do something here, and I gave up those two homers, and I came to the dugout, I tried to take it easy, to relax, to let it go.

"The only thing I said was, 'We have to start making plays here.' He took it personally. I know it was my mistake. It was my fault because you don't say anything. But he took it personally and that's what happened. We argued in the dugout, and everything stayed there."

It's far from uncommon for starters to have no idea what's going on with a team as a whole in spring, especially this early. 

Silva said he's apologized to Ramirez, but they haven't talked about it since.

Silva added, "I don't like to have problems with anyone, my teammates. That's the worst thing that can happen to you. You spend more time with these guys than your own family. That's the last thing I want. I never had any problems with my teammates."

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 11:05 am
 

Berkman says he's fine


Lance BerkmanBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Since it was the lead in Pepper this morning, it'd only be fair to give the update on Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman here.

Although Berkman has been scratched for the Cardinals' last two games with elbow and calf concerns, the 35-year-old insists he'll be in the lineup tomorrow and that he's fine.

Berkman had been suffering with a sore left elbow for the last couple of weeks and his calf started bothering him Monday when he was playing in right field. Although his calf is improving, he said, he'll still be limited to DH duties for the time being.

"I don't think I have an issue," Berkman told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"I'm sure the fans are concerned, given the last couple of years. But I can honestly say that it's a matter of course.

"When you're older in spring training -- early in spring training -- it's much better to be way overly cautious. If this was the regular season, I'd be playing.

"I know it looks bad -- 'this guy can't get on the field or whatever' -- but it's not that kind of situation. I would tell you if I thought it was. There's still plenty of time to get ready."

Berkman's right about all of that -- including his admission of how it looks from the outside. That said, he's being counted on for a lot this year and the Cardinals haven't had much good news this spring, so maybe it's just a knee-jerk thing and come March 22 or so, we'll have forgotten all about it. But it's not March 22 yet, it's still March 4 and there are plenty of questions regarding Berkman and the Cardinals, questions that won't be answered with mere words.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 4, 2011 9:53 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:29 pm
 

Pepper: Big Puma struggling through spring

Lance Berkman

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cardinals came out of the offseason sacrificing defense for offense, but that offense may have a hard time even getting on the field.

Lance Berkman, inked in as the team's right fielder going into the spring, was scratched from the team's lineup on Thursday because of a sore left calf. Berkman had already been limited to designated hitter work because of a bad left elbow.

It's just the first week of games, and Berkman has been limited to play in the field. On Thursday, Berkman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he was "perfectly fine" and would still go to Kissimmee, Fla., on Friday to face his old team, the Astros.

Friday morning, Berkman wasn't on the bus, missing another game.

Prospect Zack Cox filled in for Berkman at DH on Thursday and knocked in a run, but he's not ready to fill in full-time for Berkman in the field and the National League doesn't have the DH.

Sure, it's early, and several players are battling bumps and bruises, but not all of them are 35, coming off a down season, moving to a more demanding physical position, blocked at their old position and being counted on to remedy a team's offense. That's a lot on the shoulders of the Big Puma, and it's looking less like he can shoulder that load.

WAKE-UP: As if stepping into the box against a guy who can sling the ball 105 mph wasn't enough to get your attention, the first pitch ending up somewhere near the bull certainly got Dodger Trent Oeltjen's attention. Thursday night, the first pitch of Chapman's inning of work went over the catcher's mitt and over the umpire's head. His next three pitches to Oeltjen were strikes, including strike three looking.

"If it was at my face, I wouldn't have had time to move," Oeltjen told the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez. "It woke me up. He sent a message he was throwing hard."

Said new manager Don Mattingly: "Jeez, huh? He was Randy Johnson-ish. It gets there quick, doesn't it?"

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: Carlos Zambrano didn't fight anyone in his Thursday start for the Cubs -- not only that, he threw three scoreless innings. However, he did complain of arm fatigue after the start.

"I was just tired," Zambrano said to the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's normal. I wasn't feeling power in my arm, but I guarantee you I will work hard and feel good in my next start."

Zambrano note he typically feels a "dead-arm" at least once a spring.

JUST BAD NEWS: Yesterday the question was if Astros' catcher Jason Castro would miss the beginning of the season. Today, it's if he'll play at all this season.

Thursday night, Castro was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Castro was scheduled to have surgery this morning, and general manager Ed Wade said he could return "by mid-September." (Houston Chronicle)

WAIT FOR JUDGEMENT? Matt Cain said he hasn't thrown a ball since coming down with elbow inflammation on Sunday and will likely miss multiple starts this spring. 

However, Cain's not too concerned, even after taking an MRI.

There is a history -- and this is something to watch -- of pitchers going to the postseason one season and having trouble the next because of the increased workload. While Cain's not worried, it'll be something to monitor with all of the Giants' pitching staff. (San Francisco Chronicle)

ANOTHER WART: Hopefully Orioles starter Brian Matusz won't tweet a picture like Michael Cuddyer, but he'll also be having a wart professionally removed.

Matusz's wart is on the middle finger of his pitching hand. Still, he threw two scoreless innings on Wednesday even with the wart. He had it some last year, but pitched through it. He said it bothers him some on his breaking ball. (Baltimore Sun)

WAS THAT REALLY A CONSIDERATION? Oliver Perez has been the New York media's favorite target for a while, but is this really necessary? The New Your Daily News' "breaking news" from "a source" is that the Mets have internally decided Perez will not be a starter during the regular season.

The Daily News' Andy Martino wrote that the day after he wrote the team would cut Perez (and his $12 million salary) if he didn't perform well in his start on Thursday. Well, he threw two scoreless innings against the Cardinals, so Martino didn't get his wish. Instead, he had to find a new way to pile onto Perez.

Hey, it's not to say Perez doesn't stink. He does. Or that he's not overpaid -- he is. It's just, this breathless reporting seems almost like piling on. Sure, the Mets have said he's in contention for the rotation, but the Mets say a lot of things, and it's not like we believe those.

NOW HE COULD BE IN A ROTATION: Neftali Feliz wasn't too happy with his first start of spring. Still, he threw two scoreless innings, so it wasn't bad. He also threw three different pitches, but struggled with his command and rhythm.

The Feliz story may be one of the more interesting ones of spring, and certainly something to watch as the month goes along. He'll throw three innings next week. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

VISA TIME: Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati's opening-day starter, could pitch his first spring training start because of a visa problem, but he should be able to make his next start after a quick trip to his native Dominican Republic.

"Everything is set," he told the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay. "They're just waiting for me to pitch it up."

He was unable to pitch in games at which admission is charged because he came to camp on a travel visa, not a work visa. His work visa was held up because of his failed drug test and suspension last season.

COCO CONTRITE: A's outfielder Coco Crisp said he's embarrassed about his DUI arrest on Wednesday morning. (San Francisco Chronicle)

GO METS OR GO HOME: Former Cardinals and A's closer Jason Isringhausen is back in camp for the Mets, after starting a comeback last season in the Reds system.

Isringhausen played in Triple-A last season, but says his bus-riding days are over. If he doesn't break camp with the Mets, he'll just go home and call it a career. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

OR JUST GO HOME: Boston's J.D. Drew says he's considering retiring after this year. It's been one of those things he's hinted at before and is hardly a surprise. (Boston Herald)

SO WHO IS A-ROD? According to Wikileaks, a U.S. diplomatic cable on the 2009 Iranian election called President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the "George Steinbrenner of Iran" when talking about his influence over the national soccer team.

I'm guessing that wasn't a compliment. (Associated Press)

WHAT'S A WORLD SERIES WORTH? How much are World Series starts worth to a Hall of Fame discussion? Or, even more words about Jack Morris from Baseball Prospectus.

Honestly, I used to be a Morris for the Hall guy, I'm not anymore. I used to not be a Bert Blyleven guy, but I am now. But I'll certainly never change my feeling that I never want to hear another Morris-Blyleven debate.

A BETTER SCORECARD: An interview with Bethany Heck, the designer of a new, better, scorebook. Heck's 20-game scorebook is like "if Moleskine made a scorebook…" (Bugs & Cranks)

WHAT TO WATCH: Jake Peavy will make his first start since July 6 today against the Angels in Tempe, Ariz.

"Hopefully, we'll see some of the hard work we've done pay off," he told the Chicago Tribune.

QUARTERBACK SHOWDOWN: There's a Groundhog Day aspect to spring training, so Padres manager Bud Black found a way to break up the monotony -- a quarterback combine.

While Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert (seriously, could you draft a quarterback named "Blaine") did this in Indianapolis last week, Black had his former quarterbacks -- top prospect Casey Kelly, Cory Luebke, Orlando Hudson and Nick Hundley -- go through their own competition Thursday morning.

According to MLB.com's Corey Brock, the three went through several drills, including hitting a moving target. Luebke, a high school quarterback in Ohio, upset Kelly, who signed a letter of intent to play QB at Tennessee.

"We're here for six weeks," Black said. "… We try to do some things to keep the guys going."

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: The Reds have announced the front-runner for the year's best bobblehead. On July 2 against the Indians, fans will receive the combination Dusty Baker bobblehead and toothpick holder. The bobblehead even has Dusty with a toothpick in his mouth (and, of course, sweatbands on his arms). So far, it's the best bobblehead I've seen on tap for this year, with the Reds also getting second place for their Jonny Gomes bobblehead and arm, mimicking the way Gomes tugs at his helmet before every at-bat.

Dusty Baker

IF YOU'RE NOT ALREADY BEARDED OUT: The literary journal McSweeney's is selling a "How to Beard Yourself Like Brian Wilson" poster.

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Posted on: March 3, 2011 8:34 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 8:35 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/3: Jones returns to third base

Jones

By Evan Brunell

3 UP

1. 3B Chipper Jones, ATL: 2 AB, 1 R, 1 H. For the first time since tearing his ACL, Chipper Jones played first base in a game Thursday, and things turned out just fine. Jones has made a rapid return from surgery and is trying to get used to playing the field again. He fielded a grounder flawlessly and also caught a popup in his four innings of work.

2. SP Brett Cecil, TOR: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. Quite an impressive game for Cecil, even if it is spring training. The youngster is gearing up for his first full season in the majors and is excited to see manager John Farrell allowing him to throw 60 pitches. "The way I see it, [60 pitches] is just a glimpse of the future of how [Farrell] is going to let us pitchers go deeper into the game," Cecil told the AP. Even though we got a little bit of a high pitch count, I'm extremely happy."

3. SP Neftali Feliz, TEX: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K. Not a bad start for Feliz, who is attempting to convert from closing to starting. The AL Rookie of the Year churned out 36 pitches but is still working on feeling out how much effort to expend with each pitch to ensure he can go deep in games. "I need to find my pace so I can go longer," Feliz said via a translator according to the AP. "I don't know how hard to go so that I can go longer."

3 DOWN

1. SP Randy Wolf, MIL: 1 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 0 K. Yuck. Not a pretty start for Wolf, but it's still very early and he's likely still rounding into game shape. He's no longer being looked at to top the rotation with the additions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum along with the ascension of Yovani Gallardo, but the Brew Crew still needs a strong season from the lefty in the quest for the division title.

2. SP Troy Tulowitzki, COL: 2 AB, 0 H, 0 R, 0 RBI, 1 K. Tulowitzki was forced to leave the game after whiffing on an awkward swing to end the fourth inning. He was later diagnosed with a bruised right heel, but any injury -- no matter how slight -- to the Rockies' new multi-millionaire and face of the franchise is nothing to feel good about.

3. RF Elijah Dukes, FAIL: Hit pregnant ex-girlfriend. OK, so it was a bit humorous earlier this offseason when word surfaced that Dukes had "retired" from baseball and was intent on a new career as a rapper named Fly Eli. But will Dukes ever learn? He's fathered multiple children by multiple mothers, has a history of violence and threw away a career in the majors. Has he learned? Nope. Will he ever learn? Doesn't look like it. Unfortunately, it may be time to write Dukes off as a redeeming member of society.

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Posted on: March 3, 2011 12:07 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 1:32 pm
 

Carpenter's hamstring improving

Posted by C. Trent Rosecrans

Chris CarpenterThe Chris Carpenter watch isn't over -- but Cardinal fan suicide watch may be. Carpenter played catch for 15 minutes on Thursday morning and reported his strained left hamstring came out of the exercise OK.

"I still feel [the injury] a little bit," Carpenter told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Rick Hummel, "but if it keeps getting better every day like it has, then it will be fine."

Carpenter said he still expects to miss his next scheduled start on Sunday, but hopes to start next Friday, which would be his next scheduled start.

Still, he said he won't pitch again until he's completely ready: "It's going to have to totally be good." 

UPDATE: Right-hander Kevin Thomas is likely to take Carpenter's Sunday start, manager Tony La Russa, told Cardinals writers (via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch).

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Posted on: March 3, 2011 11:32 am
Edited on: March 3, 2011 11:33 am
 

Astros catcher out with knee injury

Posted by C. Trent Rosecrans

Astros catcher Jason Castro will return to Houston today to meet with the team's medical director after suffering a torn medical meniscus in his right knee. He will likely undergo surgery, and his status for the beginning of the season is doubtful, at best.

Castro hurt his knee Wednesday, trying to avoid getting tagged out at first on a slow ground ball in the team's exhibition against the Tigers in Lakeland.

"I thought a lot about that [Wednesday] night," Castro told the Houston Chronicle's Steve Campbell. "But It's OK. I'm OK with it. There's nothing that can change it. I'm trying to stay positive and really just look to start the rehab process and get back playing."

The Associated Press' David J. Phillip caught a photo of the injury here:

Jason Castro

Castro, 23, played 67 games for the Astros last season, hitting .205/.286/.573 in 217 plate appearances. The Astros expected him to step into the starting catching role this season. However, the team does have veterans Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles in camp to take his place, and maybe into the start of the season.

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