Kyle McClellan- STL- McClellan seemed to benefit from the Tommy John surgery he underwent in 2005. His fastball went from the upper 80s to 94 mph heat with movement. Last year the Cardinals converted him from a starter to a reliever in the minors and he responded well, posting a 1.83 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 54 Ks in 59 IP at A and AAA. McClellan is pretty much a lock on a roster spot with the Cardinals, but with the rash of injuries to the rotation, may find himself filling a gap there in the early season. In leagues that count holds, his likely role in the bullpen will have value, but if you want a real long shot sleeper candidate, the possibility of him in the rotation is attractive.
Troy Glaus- STL- Glaus came over in exchange for the disgruntled Scott Rolen and is expected to fill Rolen’s spot. Although he is very likely to give the Cardinals more than Rolen’s 8 homers from the hot corner, there are some big question marks surrounding Glaus. First, he was mentioned in the steroid probe in connection with Sunshine Pharmacy mail orders. All Glaus will say about that is that the commissioner’s office found no reason for disciplinary action. That doesn’t exactly clear up the matter. Second, and possibly related, is Glaus’ lack of durability. He has only played 2 full seasons in the last 5. All in all, Glaus seems to be a high risk player in his new home.
Daniel Cabrera- BAL- On the plus side, Cabrera allowed only 1 hit in his 3 IP yesterday. On the wild side, he gave up 5 and 8 of the 15 batters he faced had a “3” in the ball count. Last year, Cabrera cut his walk ratio significantly. The problem is that it went from a staggering 6.32/9IP to an alarming 4.75/9IP and he gave up enough walks to lead the league in that category both years. It was still way too high last year and when combined with a rise in homers from 11 in 148 IP to 25 in 204-1/3 IP did not make for a successful season. Cabrera had only walked 2 in 4-2/3 spring innings before yesterday, giving the Orioles hope that he may be finally breaking out of his wildness. He has shown such promise in Spring Training before, only to revert to form when the games counted. Cabrera will turn 27 in May, so time is running out on him being able to harness his talent. The odds get less and less every day he keeps missing the strike zone.
Kazuo Fukumori- TEX- With other injuries to the Rangers bullpen, Fukumori is the best bet to be the closer when the season opens. If he continues to pitch as he has this spring, he will keep a hold on the job. So far in the Cactus League, Fukumori has pitched 6 innings, allowing only 1 unearned run on 4 hits and no walks while striking out 6. Fukumori was a closer in Japan, saving 17 games last year before undergoing elbow surgery to remove bone chips. He racked up 21 saves in 50 games and posted a 2.17 ERA in 2006.
Alejandro De Aza- FLA- De Aza has been having an impressive spring, hitting a robust .435 with 3 homers and posting a .536 OBP. This is similar to last year, when he burst on the scen in the Grapefruit League with a .354 average and won the centerfield job for Opening Day. A stress fracture to De Aza’s ankle on the first road trip derailed his season early and he never got back on track. With a new start this spring he is in the mix at centerfield again, although now it is most likely in a platoon situation with Cody Ross, with the lefthanded De Aza seeing more action. This could also benefit prospect Cameron Maybin, lessening the pressure to put Maybin on the field at the major league level.
Andrew Miller- FLA- Like his fellow acquisition in the big trade with the Tigers Cameron Maybin, Miller is likely to need some seasoning in the minors before his is truly ready for The Show. His breaking stuff was wild yesterday, as he walked 3 in 4 innings of work while allowing 4 hits and 3 runs while striking out 1. Command has been a definite issue for Miller this spring as he has issued 10 walks in 13 IP. He has only thrown 85 minor league innings and some more would probably help him get control of his pitches. However, with injuries to Scott Olsen and Sergio Mitre, the Marlins may be pressed to put Miller in the rotation to start the season and will not, at least immediately, get to benefit from some AAA work, as it looks like Maybin will do. If Miller heads south once the Marlins break camp (yes, the Marlins spring facility is north of Dolphins Stadium) expect a bumpy ride.
Barry Zito- SF- Zito got shelled Monday, giving up 8 runs in 3-2/3 IP. He still has not struck out a batter in any of his 3 spring starts. Going into this year he had accumulated 70 Ks in 118 spring innings. This development is disturbing for those who were hoping that last year’s drop below the 6 K/IP level was an anomaly.
Brandon McCarthy- TEX- Inj Update- McCarthy’s procedure to reduce the swelling in his arm has been delayed. This pushes his projected return for a 4-6 week target to 4-8 weeks. He will start the season on the DL.
Joel Pineiro- STL- Inj Update- An MRI showed no structural damage to his shoulder. Still, he is not expected to be ready for the start of the regular season.
Jered Weaver- LAA- Another impressive spring outing, combined with John Lackey’s minor injury, has made Weaver the favorite to be the Opening Day Start for the Angels. He held the Padres to 1 run over 4 IP on just 1 hit. So far this spring he has allowed only 2 runs in 9 IP while striking out 6 and walking only 1.
Livan Hernandez- MIN- Hernandez made a solid start yesterday, allowing 2 runs on three hits. This was a great improvement on his last outing, when he got clobbered for 6 runs and 10 hits by the Orioles. Hernandez is the odds on favorite to make the Opening Day start for the Twins.
Miguel Cabrera- DET- Cabrera seems to have gotten untracked from his slow spring start, going 5-for-8 with 2 doubles and a homer in his last 3 games after beginning the Grapefruit League 3-or-21.
Dontrelle Willis- DET- Willis was wild in yesterday’s start, walking 4 in 2-1/3 IP while striking out 3 and allowing 2 hits. Willis is only 26 and has logged a lot of use in his arm, making him a high risk for injury or ineffectiveness. This was the first really poor outing this spring, but he should be watched closely to see if the wear and tear on his arm is showing.
Ryan Zimmerman- WAS- Inj- Zimmerman left last night’s game with a tight hip flexor. It looks like just a minor tweak, but he will be reevaluated today. Zimmerman has a .333 spring training average with a team-leading 7 RBI.
Rafael Furcal- LAD- Furcal picked up 3 his yesterday, running his spring average up to .357. Furcal has a history of spring a hot bat in the Grapefruit League, owning a .332 average in the five years before this season. Oddly enough, though, he has shown some immediate cooling of the bat when the games start to count. In the last two seasons Furcal hovered around the Mendoza line, once above and once below, and in 2005 only hit .228 in April. Then he starts making up for lost time, and owns a respectable .284 career batting average.
Ichiro Suzuki- SEA- Ichiro is still 0-for-spring, running his hitless streak to 0-for-21. He is usually a brilliant Cactus League performer, hitting .396 in his five spring trainings before this one. Maybe Ichiro is just getting his early season doldrums out of his system now. In spite of his usual spring success, only once has Ichiro’s April batting average been higher than what he finished the year with.