Want to get a jump on the competition? Go to the CBS Sports app on your phone, open up "Settings" and sign up for Fantasy alerts to get the latest from our Fantasy baseball team as soon as it's available.
That Clayton Kershaw is injured is notable enough.
The guy has a sore shoulder, which is how all shoulder troubles begin. Granted, he's supposed to throw again in a matter of days and will maybe come out of it just fine. Maybe.
But the way he hurt the shoulder is itself cause for concern. Manager Dave Roberts told MLB.com that it may have had something to do with the left-hander attempting to regain the velocity that was missing last season.
"You know what? It might," Roberts said. "And I think that a lot of times Clayton is driving that fact of velocity."
You can read the speculation in there. He doesn't know, and so we don't either. But the comment does reveal it's on Kershaw's mind. He's concerned about the velocity and thinks he needs to do something to regain it. And with the way his K/9 and swinging-strike rate plummeted last year, he just might.
"Speaking honestly, there's no reason he won't be an elite pitcher with his pitch mix, irregardless of velocity," Roberts said. "I believe and the organization believes that. But Clayton's got to believe that."
A crisis of confidence for the three-time Cy Young winner? It should rattle us all a bit. And the fact he's already ailing this spring only bolsters.
Bad outing for Bumgarner
Kershaw isn't even the longtime ace showing the clearest signs of decline. That'd be Madison Bumgarner, whose spring began most dreadfully Sunday:
It was a terrible outing for a pitcher who has something to prove to Fantasy owners even if not to himself. The stuff hasn't been the same since he suffered his dirt bike accident early in 2017, and though he navigated it well enough last year, mostly on the strength of his home park (where he had a 1.63 ERA compared to 4.97 on the road), his swinging-strike rate and K/9 would have ranked near the bottom of all qualifying pitchers.
Now, it's true he dominated last spring before breaking his hand just before the start of the season, striking out 30 in 21 innings, so maybe we never saw him at full strength. But outings like this one won't allay our worst fears.
First impressions at first base
If you thought Luke Voit would run away with the Yankees starting first base job based on his performance down the stretch last season, you may want to brace yourself for a battle. For the first time in three years, Greg Bird isn't coming off ankle surgery, and he went 2 for 2 with a double in his spring debut Saturday, this after homering off Masahiro Tanaka in a simulated game Thursday.
"One hundred percent different, been able to start over and work from the ground up,'' Bird told the New York Post, comparing this spring to the previous two. He also added 20 pounds of "good weight," manager Aaron Boone said, this offseason.
Of course, Voit answered the bell with a beast of a blast Sunday. I still love that guy , which means I don't care to hear Boone talking this way:
"I believe Greg Bird can be an impact player. I have never lost sight of that, even at his lowest points last year."
For now, it's still Voit's job to lose.
As good as he looked down the stretch for the Rays last year, flashing ace potential for the first time in the big leagues, Tyler Glasnow is looking to add another element of deception this spring. He has worked on varying his delivery, introducing both a pause and a quick step.
The results Sunday were inconclusive, which is to be expected given that he threw only 1 2/3 innings. He allowed two runs on three hits, but he did strike out four.
"I think today was very encouraging with how comfortable it was since it's the first time I've done it," Glasnow told MLB.com.
His raw stuff is so good, as he showed when he averaged 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings in his 11 starts for the Rays, that you'd probably just prefer to see him solidify those gains rather than tinker his way into a bad habit of some kind. But seeing as he walked no one and threw 19 of his 29 pitches for strikes, this start offered no real reasons for concern.
Nothing wrong with Kang
Jung Ho Kang, remember him? How he hit he hit 36 home runs with an .838 OPS in 739 at-bats between 2015 and 2016? Well, he has played next to none since then because of some off-the-field issues in his native South Korea, and what little he played between the Dominican Winter League and Triple-A didn't go so well. So of course he begins spring training by homering in his first two at-bats Sunday — neither of them wall-scrapers.
"[Bench coach] Tommy Prince and I looked at each other and said, 'This guy's crazy,' manager Clint Hurdle told MLB.com. "He's capable of crazy, though."
The Pirates' third baseman of the future, Ke'Bryan Hayes, also homered twice in the contest, but Kang's competition isn't with him. It's with Colin Moran, who put together only a .747 OPS last year and was unplayable against left-handed pitchers.
Maybe the two form a lefty-righty platoon to begin the year, but general manager Neal Huntington has already said Kang has a chance to play every day if he returns to his old form. Sunday was a loud step in that direction.
Warding off all competitors
Another third baseman who may not be getting enough attention as a sleeper is Taylor Ward, who floundered in his opportunity to impress down the stretch last year, batting .178 while striking out more than 30 percent of the time in 135 at-bats. He began his spring schedule with a grand slam Saturday and should be the one Fantasy owners are rooting for over lightweight David Fletcher.
Why? Just check out what he did in the minors last year:
You see, the strikeouts weren't really an issue there. Meanwhile, he showed good power and — get this — speed. Those 18 steals came in only 21 attempts. He also made an effort to slim down this offseason, according to The Orange County Register, which he hopes will allow him to run even more.
As for the hitting:
"I think I just got away from approach stuff and also a few mechanical things that I was doing in the minor leagues, drill-wise and things like that, that I didn't necessarily stick to when I got (to the majors)," Ward said.
He might just be worth a flier in deeper Rotisserie leagues in case he proves it this spring..