We welcome the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt and thought they might like a team-by-team glance at what’s happening in America’s national sport.
So for our visitors to Portsmouth, here is our insight into the latest news from some of the biggest clubs in America as they prepare for a new season.
New York Yankees
Nothing is written in stone yet, or even on the erasable white board in Joe Girardi’s office, but it’s looking more and more as if Masahiro Tanaka will be the New York Yankees’ Opening Day starter on April 6 against the Toronto Blue Jays.
At this point in spring, most starting pitchers are building up their innings and increasing their number of pitches in anticipation of throwing six-plus innings once the regular season begins.
Right-hander Kevin Slowey appeared to be on that starting pitcher track, tossing two innings and three innings, respectively, in his first two spring outings. But since then, the veteran hasn’t pitched more than 12/3 innings. In his appearance during Sunday’s 7-6 loss to the Boston Red Sox, Slowey only threw one inning and struck out two of the three batters he faced in the eighth.
The perception has been that Slowey is competing with Miguel Alredo Gonzalez for the fifth spot in the Phillies’ rotation. But as Gonzalez’s innings continue to increase, Slowey has been pitching later in games and facing fewer batters.
Boston Red Sox
The stakes were raised Sunday at Boston Red Sox spring training. Two teams comprised of Red Sox players participated in an obstacle course relay race to see who needs to make the 2 1/2-hour bus ride from Fort Myers to Jupiter on Tuesday. Mookie Betts, who has been an absolute stud this spring, played the role of hero, edging out Jemile Weeks in the final leg of the race. David Ortiz didn’t participate in the actual race, as he’s been feeling under the weather at camp. The slugger still left his mark, though. He served as the referee for the intense competition. Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez were among those on the losing side, so expect to see them in the starting lineup Tuesday against the Miami Marlins.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Kyle Kubitza drove in the game-winning run with an RBI single during the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the LA Angels to a 3-2 win over the San Francisco Giants on Saturday.
Marc Krauss supplied two RBI and Efren Navarro went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored for the Angels, who had starter Jered Weaver strike out six batters over 5 1/3 scoreless innings.
Hector Sanchez stroked an RBI single and Travis Ishikawa crossed home on a passed ball, while starter Tim Lincecum surrendered one run on two hits and a walk over four innings for the Giants.
Chicago White Sox
As set as the Chicago White Sox’s roster seemed to be heading into spring training, there still remains a number of significant decisions to make with the pitching staff.
Kris Sale’s foot injury has created some intrigue in the starting rotation, at least for the opening week of the season, but the bullpen is far from set as well.
Left-hander Carlos Rodon was initially believed to be the pitcher that would benefit most from Sale’s temporary absence, but over the past two weeks, veteran Brad Penny has been the one that has actually taken the most advantage.
Chicago Cubs top prospect Kris Bryant kept the heat on the team’s front office by hitting his seventh and eighth home runs of the spring Saturday, including a first-inning shot off former Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners.
“I couldn’t be happier with where I am right now,” Bryant said after the Cubs’ 12-10 victory over the Mariners. “It gives me a whole lot of confidence heading into the season.”
Bryant has four more home runs than anyone else in the Cactus or Grapefruit leagues despite being slowed by a sore shoulder. He has more home runs this spring than the entire Miami Marlins team and actually hit a ninth home run in a “B” game earlier this week
New York Mets
Steven Matz is probably good enough to open the season with the Mets, but must wait his turn.
Even with Zack Wheeler done for 2015 as he awaits Tommy John surgery, the Mets have a full rotation. At best, the lefty Matz is No. 7 on the depth chart, behind Dillon Gee and Rafael Montero, among starting pitchers. And another highly regarded prospect, Noah Syndergaard, could be on equal footing with Matz.
So it came as little surprise the 23-year-old Matz, despite an impressive spring, was optioned to minor league camp following the Mets’ 6-4 exhibition loss to the Tigers on Saturday. Matz is expected to open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas.
San Francisco Giants
Barry Bonds isn’t scheduled for another stint in the Giants’ training camp, but talks are under way for the home run king to take an expanded role in the organization.
Bonds’ exact position hasn’t been determined, but he could represent the team as others have over the years, including Hall of Famers and other popular former players.
“There’s definitely a desire to do something a little more than just coming down to spring training,” Giants President Larry Baer said. “We’re trying to put something together.”
Twins catcher Josmil Pinto suffered a concussion after being hit with three backswings during Saturday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles. “We’ll just see how he comes along, I talked to him this morning. He’s feeling OK, just not quite himself.” Manager Paul Molitor said according to the Pioneer Press. Pinto had a CT scan which came back negative, but is reporting a headache. He will be held out of action for a few days just to be sure he is ok.
It is no secret that the Detroit Tigers have struggled in terms of obtaining wins during this exhibition season, in fact the Tigers (7-13) are last among American League teams in terms of record. Despite these losses however, several key players have had success this spring. Among them are pitcher Justin Verlander, outfielder J.D. Martinez, and second baseman Ian Kinsler. These 3 were vital to the success of the team last season and will be once again in 2015.
St. Louis Cardinals
With spring training quickly nearing its end, the St. Louis Cardinals further trimmed their roster on Saturday afternoon, optioning lefthanded pitcher Nick Greenwood and righty Sam Tuivailala to Triple-A Memphis while reassigning righthanders Miguel Socolovich and Zach Petrick and lefties Dean Kiekhefer and Tim Cooney to minor-league camp. The moves leave the Cardinals with 19 pitchers in big-league camp, a group that includes non-roster righthanders Mitch Harris, Marcus Hatley, and Carlos Villanueva.
Though none of the five pitchers cut on Saturday stood a serious chance of making the Opening Day roster, several of them could definitely make contributions at points during the 2015 season.