Jobu shares some newsworthy notes (aka newsynotes) from spring training.
I know opening day was technically last week, but that was in Japan and nobody cares about Seattle and Oakland, so that didn’t really count. The real opening day is this week, and there are some very interesting stories coming out of Spring Training that I wanted to discuss. So let’s get started
1. American League East Rotations
The biggest story in Yankees camp this season was the competition between Freddy García and Phil Hughes to see who would emerge as the fifth starter. When the Yankees signed Andy Pettitte to a minor league contract with just a couple of weeks left in camp, it got even more interesting. As it turns out, Hughes and García both made the rotation out of spring because Andy Pettitte won’t be ready until May, and newly acquired Michael Pineda has shoulder tendinitis. See? These things always work themselves out, and this is why everyone always says pitching depth is so important.
In Red Sox camp, meanwhile, the controversy was mostly about piecing together the last two spots of the rotation. With John Lackey out for the year (with “Tommy John surgery” (wink wink)) and Daisuke Mastuzaka scheduled to miss some time as well, doors were opened for some new blood to step through. In the end, the Sox went with 25-year old Félix Doubront in the fourth slot and former eighth inning stopper Daniel Bard in the fifth spot. I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about Doubront, other than the fact that everyone’s been wondering when he was going to break into the rotation full-time for a couple of years now. Bard, on the other hand, is a very well known commodity. In a relief role, he can dial it up to 100 mph, and has a nasty slider to go with it. It will be interesting to see how hard he can throw as a starter (I think he’s still been hitting the upper 90s in spring), and whether or not his other pitches are developed enough to keep him in the rotation. I always thought his fastball didn’t move enough to consistently get major league hitters out, but we’ll see.
2. Geriatric Conventions
While these stories aren’t as poignant as some others this spring, they’re of the feel-good variety, which everyone loves. In Toronto, soon to be 45-year old Omar Vizquel has made the opening day roster as the backup middle infielder. He’ll be backing up 2B Kelly Johnson and SS Yunel Escobar. Vizquel signed a minor-league deal on January 23rd, and was hitting over .433 in 15 spring training games when the announcement was made last week. Vizquel might have less range than he once did, but the 11-time gold glover can still handle the baseball, and the bat, and should give the Jays some solid veteran presence on the bench. Not bad for an old guy.
An even older old guy made a huge splash in Colorado this past week as well, when 49-year-old Jamie Moyer was named to the Rockies rotation. Moyer will take the ball on April 7th against the Houston Astros. If he wins, he will be the oldest player to ever win a major league game. Moyer’s comeback story is a pretty amazing one. He missed all of 2010 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and many figured that would be all for the old-timer, but Moyer didn’t quit. For one, he’s been throwing like a 50-year old since he was in his 30s (Dr. Draft and I nicknamed him “Little bit of this!” during our MLB the Show games), so he just needs the rest of his body to hold up, and he’ll be fine. Despite being older than a couple of current major-league managers, Moyer will look to add to his 267 career wins in 2012. I wish him the best.
3. Welcome Back, Johan
Sticking to pitching, the Mets made a feel-good announcement last week as well, when they put the official “comeback complete” stamp on Johan Santana’s baseball career. The jesters of Major League Baseball named Johan their opening day starter, and he will take the ball on Thursday against Tommy Hanson and the Atlanta Braves. We’re probably going to see a different Johan Santana than the one who was throwing on September 2nd, 2010 (the day of Johan’s last major league pitch). Santana’s injury was a significant one. He tore an anterior capsule in his shoulder (something that has kept former Met José Feliciano out for two seasons). He’s not throwing in the mid 90s anymore, and he might be lucky to top out at 90 or 91mph, so he’s going to have to really pitch. I hope he’s been watching Jamie Moyer this spring. It will also be interesting if his body can hold up. He didn’t exactly have the best health reputation before this latest injury. Yay, Mets!
Featured image courtesy of: mlb.sbnation.com/
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