Mining the News (1/23/23)

American League

Angels

• There is a chance that Logan O’Hoppe might start in the minors.

The real competition appears to be between Thaiss and O’Hoppe. And the Angels have to be careful about rushing a young catcher like O’Hoppe with a very bright future.

A lineup guess of Anthony Rendon, Luis Rengifo, and Brandon Drury being full-time bats with Gio Urshela and Jared Walsh in a platoon.

The Angels have a lot of guys that can play first, second and third. Not a lot of true shortstops. And the offseason acquisitions have most likely forced defensive whiz Andrew Velazquez off the active roster. The Angels will rotate their infield quite a bit depending on matchups. The best guess for a starting infield against a righty pitcher: Rendon (3B), Renfigo (SS), Drury (2B), Walsh (1B). And against a lefty pitcher: Rendon (3B), Rengifo (SS), Urshela (2B), Drury (1B).

It’s also possible that Angels manager Phil Nevin would value Fletcher’s defense and find a way to get him a consistent starting role, especially if his bat proves to be valuable.

Astros

Michael Brantley should be healthy (shoulder) by Opening Day.

• It seems that Yainer Diaz has the upper hand as the backup catcher.

When it comes to his competition with Diaz, it’s an amicable one. But it’s still a competition. Diaz, the team’s No. 3 prospect, could get the first shot to make the club this year because of his bat (he could DH and play some first base).

Mariners

Andrés Muñoz and Paul Sewald had off-season surgeries but should be fine by Opening Day.

Same goes for Muñoz, who had foot surgery after the season. You might not see much of him or Sewald (minor clean-up of his heel and elbow) early on during spring training, but relievers don’t need much work to get ready. Both should be fine for Opening Day.

Red Sox

Chris Sale should be ready for Opening Day but the team with be “conservative” with him.

Pitching coach Dave Bush said he’ll be conservative with Sale early but doesn’t anticipate an “artificial limit” on the number of pitches or innings Sale throws.

“The biggest part is just recovery after he pitches,” Bush said. “I’m not looking specifically at his elbow or his wrist or his thumb or anything, or his back. Mostly it’s just how his body’s recovering. The mistake we sometimes make in baseball is we worry about one part of the body and we miss something else. So we’re looking at everything. How is your body recovering? How do you feel? Can you get on the mound on your side day? How’s the fatigue during games? We look at all of that together and that helps guide us.”

Trevor Story should be healthy around the All-Star break.

Trevor Story, 11 days removed from internal brace surgery, was at Winter Weekend and is hoping to play at some point this season despite an estimated six-month timetable for recovery.

Also, Story could DH when he returns.

Story also didn’t rule out returning to the team initially as a DH if that allows him to get back in action faster. Justin Turner is currently slotted in at DH, though he will also get some action at first base.

Enrique Hernández is slotted in as the shortstop and Adam Duvall as the centerfielder.

With the Red Sox close to finalizing a deal for outfielder Adam Duvall, who’s expected to play a majority of his games in center, moving Kiké Hernandez to shortstop remains a likely option.

Hernandez has never played more than 25 games at short per season in his career, but he grew up playing the position and said it feels like riding a bike whenever he moves to the spot.

Garrett Whitlock said his hip injury degraded his sinker.

Whitlock similarly said he’s feeling good after his season-ending hip surgery and has also gotten in some early work throwing off a mound. He said he not only feels better physically, but he feels better mechanically with his pitches compared to last year, particularly with his two-seamer. Because he didn’t have the lower-body strength last year, Whitlock said he felt like he was trying to force his two-seamer to break, whereas now he can throw it and it naturally breaks without the extra effort.

His sinker performed better after the injury (15% SwStr%) than before (8% SwStr%). Neither pitch generated many groundballs (~40 GB%).

Triston Casas has lost 15 to 20 pounds.

Triston Casas was noticeably leaner and said he’s dropped 15 to 20 pounds with a series of revamped workouts this winter. He said he finished last season too heavy for his liking and wanted to put himself in a better position entering his first full season. While Casas still maintains his rookie eligibility, he said he’s not focused on winning rookie of the year but rather setting a goal of playing 150 or 160 games.

Twins

• For now, Bailey Ober is not in the rotation.

Bailey Ober is a homegrown product, selected by the Twins in the twelfth round of the 2017 draft. The right-hander has pitched well in 148 1/3 innings and 31 starts over the last two seasons, though Lopez’s addition seemingly pushes Ober out of the rotation mix for now.

White Sox

• Manager Pedro Grifol said Oscar Colas will be given an opportunity to win the right field job.

Highly regarded White Sox prospect Oscar Colas will have the initial — and seemingly best — opportunity to win the club’s everyday job in right field in spring training, manager Pedro Grifol said on Inside the Clubhouse on 670 The Score on Saturday morning.

“Well certainly, Oscar Colas is going to be given every opportunity to see if he can become our right fielder on a daily basis,” Grifol said.

Michael Kopech is still rehabbing his knee.

He saw Michael Kopech Thursday in Arizona continuing his rehab at the White Sox spring training facility — “he’s still rehabbing the knee, so we’re still building him up,”

Mike Clevinger’s knee is now healthy and he can regain his previous delivery.

While 2022 was Clevinger’s first season after Tommy John surgery, Katz viewed the worst ERA since Clevinger’s rookie season, a poor second half and declining velocity down the stretch as directly correlated to an injured right knee. Clevinger said upon signing that he had received a platelet-rich plasma injection in the knee, and Katz said it’s presently “not a factor” in his preparation for the season. Their focus is on returning Clevinger’s delivery to what it looked like before the knee hampered him.

Clevinger lost ~1.5 mph across all his pitches with his swinging-strike rate dropping from 13% to 11% and his strikeouts from 8.6 K/9 to 7.2 K/9. The biggest drop was from his slider going from a 18% SwStr% to 13% SwStr% while losing 2 mph. His Spring Training velocity will help determine how much he can rebound.

Yankees

Aaron Hicks is recovered from his knee injury.

Cashman said that Hicks “is fully recovered now” from the knee injury suffered in Game 5 of the ALDS, which kept Hicks from participating in the ALCS against the Astros.

National League

Dodgers

• It is expected that Tony Gonsolin will be in the Opening Day rotation.

Any update on Tony Gonsolin’s status? Did rest fix his arm or is surgery likely at some point? — Soo S.

Every indication I’ve gotten is that Tony Gonsolin is going to be part of the rotation by Opening Day.

Marlins

Jazz Chisholm Jr. will play centerfield.





Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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fartinyourface
2 days ago

“A lineup guess of Anthony Rendon, Luis Rengifo, and Brandon Drury being full-time bats with Gio Urshela and Jared Walsh in a platoon.”

Man, that’s depressing.