Let's get one thing straight right off the bat: Most of what happens in spring training doesn't matter.
But spring training does provide us with information in the absence of it, and so by ignoring it, we wouldn't be doing our due diligence.
Because no information is inherently bad. How you interpret that information makes all the difference.
With that, I'd like to help, pointing out the events from any given spring day that could actually mean something to Fantasy owners. It won't be every day, but it'll be regularly enough to keep us all informed on what matters from that which doesn't matter.
We begin with a small slate Tuesday, when eight teams began their Grapefruit or Cactus League schedules.
1. Freeman is fine
The player garnering the most concern since position players reported to camp was Freddie Freeman, who reported continued discomfort in the same wrist that sidelined him for most of the second half. It was concerning enough to consider dropping him in the first base rankings -- a major concession given the big drop-off behind him -- but he ended up not only playing in the Braves' first Grapefruit League game but hitting a ground-rule double in his first at-bat.
"Freeman is fine," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told MLB.com. "His first at-bat, you couldn't ask for any better test than that."
It doesn't mean Freeman is in clear, but for now, he stays put.
2. V-Mart off to good start
If Freeman's ground-rule double was encouraging, Victor Martinez's two-run home run was downright revelatory. You know how he missed most of last spring because of a torn meniscus, rushing back for the start of the season only to need a DL stint soon afterward? It may have seemed like enough to declare him finished at age 37, but as you'll see here, an offseason of rest does a body good.
That was a serious crank and may be a reminder that Martinez didn't get a legitimate chance last year. Considering he performed like a first-rounder a couple years ago, it's good to keep an open mind.
3. Hernandez has a head start
David Hernandez, the favorite to close for the Phillies this season, got his exhibition season started right with a scoreless inning against the Blue Jays. I say he's the favorite, but the truth is none of Andrew Bailey, Edward Mujica and Ernesto Frieri poses a real threat, meaning it's Hernandez's job to lose now that he's recovered from Tommy John surgery. And if you'll remember, the last time he was fully healthy in 2012, he had a 2.50 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings in 72 appearances for the Diamondbacks.
"That's always been one of my goals once I got thrown into the bullpen," Hernandez told MLB.com. "Everything turns up a little bit in the ninth inning. The fans get a little louder. The batters are locking in a little bit more because it's their last at-bat. They're trying to make a push to take the lead or tie the game. That brings the best out of me and I'm pretty sure other closers that go out there."
Even on a bad Phillies team, he has the upside and security to be my favorite late-round closer.
4. Reds left field competition heats up
Part of the fallout of the Todd Frazier deal is that it created an open competition in left field by relocating the wandering Eugenio Suarez to third base, but there isn't a clear front-runner. That's mostly because the competition is between a bunch of non-prospects, but one of them, Scott Schebler, showed his power potential with an impressive opposite-field blast Tuesday. He hit 13 home runs in 432 at-bats at Triple-A last year but was in the high 20s the two years before that -- a significant total for a minor-leaguer.
Of course, his competition fared well also. Adam Duvall, another minor-league slugger, went 1 for 2, and Jesse Winker, the long shot despite his top-prospect standing, hit a double. It's a situation worth monitoring in NL-only leagues because even though Schebler and Duvall only count as prospects in the most liberal interpretation, the same was true for Mark Canha last spring, and he ended up mattering.
5. Will Finnegan begin again?
He didn't Tuesday, pitching one inning in relief of Jon Moscot, but of course when a pitcher pitches isn't so relevant at this stage of the game. Manager Bryan Price said he saw enough from Brandon Finnegan last September to think he can start in the majors, and the opportunity is certainly there for him.
"Had I not seen him pitch in September, he probably would be a tweener, a guy the scouts saw as a starter in college, but pro scouts saw as a reliever in pro ball," manager Bryan Price told MLB.com. "We'd have to define his best role based on our own speculation. I think he answered the bell a little bit by having a strong September, showing that third pitch. The changeup, for me, was a difference-maker. Had he come in with a reliever mentality, fastball-slider, it would have been harder for me to envision him as a starting pitcher long term."
Finnegan has already shown his penchant for strikeouts as a reliever for the Royals and, because he's eligible at relief pitcher, could emerge as a top sleeper in Head-to-Head points leagues by spring's end.