Mining the News (3/9/23) by Jeff Zimmerman March 9, 2023 American League Angels • Brett Phillips revamped his swing this offseason. “I went through a full swing revamp this offseason, so this is all kind of new to me,” Phillips said. “But, it feels really good. I’m confident and feeling very encouraged with where I’m at, especially this early in Spring Training. I know we’ve got some time to iron out all the flaws with timing and mechanical stuff, but I feel like I’m in a good direction to be as successful as I can for this team.” Mariners • Logan Gilbert added a splitter. Specifically, and ironically given how effective it is, Gilbert’s fastball felt the least functional within his arsenal. He also unveiled the new split-changeup that’s been all the talk among his teammates, including Ray, who is also toying with it. … Last spring, it was the harder, firmer slider Gilbert added with consultation from Jacob deGrom that was all the rave. But Gilbert wound up taking a little off that pitch as the season went on. He recognizes that the split could be the same work in progress into the regular season. Rays • Luis Patiño is throwing 96 mph (94.5 in ’22, 95.7 in 21) and has added a sinker. The 23-year-old right-hander held Philadelphia hitless through 1 2/3 innings, walking two and striking out one while leaning on his mid-80s slider and 96 mph fastball in Tampa Bay’s 7-3 win. Even better for the Rays was that Patiño’s velocity didn’t dip from his first inning to the second, something that plagued him last year. … Along with a new sinker, Patiño said he’s working on throwing two types of sliders this year — one that acts like a cutter and another that breaks like a sweeper. Thirteen of his 29 pitches Tuesday were sliders, and according to Cash, some of them were giving Snyder flashbacks. • The Rays are looking to extend Curtis Mead. Among the many long-term extension conversations being had this spring, one worth noting: Top third-base prospect Curtis Mead and the Tampa Bay Rays. Mead ended last season at AAA and is a candidate to arrive in the big leagues this season, regardless of whether a deal happens. — Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 7, 2023 I might consider Mead in the last round or two of a redraft league to see if he signs and starts the season in the majors. Royals • Nick Loftin added weight and hit a new career-high Exit Velocity. After one month of “more,” Loftin crushed his goal of 190 pounds. He kept going and reached 205 before settling at 200, which he’s maintained since the start of big league camp. He also made a small change to his swing, getting rid of his toe tap and adopting a small leg kick, which helps him simplify the load in his swing and be on time with pitchers more consistently. The results have been eye-opening. On Saturday, Loftin hit his first spring homer to the left-field berm at Surprise Stadium, with an exit velocity of 107 mph. Loftin can’t remember a time he’s hit a ball that hard, if ever. Loftin isn’t in play in the outfield just yet, but he could be once the other candidates start to struggle. Tigers • The team has decided to enter the 21st century by creating individualized throwing plans and focusing on injury prevention. In a broad sense, the goal of the changes was to modernize the Tigers’ performance department. This spring, there are glimpses of what’s new. You see players training with metaballs or water balls and other new gadgets. There’s a host of nutrition staffers roaming around the complex. Throwing programs have supposedly become more individualized. Those changes hint at what the Tigers are trying to accomplish in this realm. It is less about overhauling a specific training method or revamping throwing programs. Instead, the Tigers are trying to create a greater level of connectivity between all their departments. That’s where they were lagging behind before. The Tigers’ training methods focused largely on treating the symptoms of injuries. Missing was a greater emphasis on injury prevention or incorporating data and science to identify injury risks before they happen. Twins • Jose Miranda’s repaired shoulder is still an issue and won’t be able to play third base. The list replacement options are suboptimal. He spent the offseason getting into better shape in preparation for the switch, but Miranda has been held back from throwing until the shoulder soreness is sorted out. In the meantime, he continues to be in the Twins’ lineup at DH. “We’re still quite hopeful that he’s going to be ready to go Opening Day,” Baldelli said. … If the shoulder soreness isn’t resolved by the end of camp, it’s possible Miranda could begin the season on the active roster in a role similar to 2022, playing first base and DH to keep his bat in the lineup, especially if Alex Kirilloff still needs more time to return from August wrist surgery. Potential fill-in options at third base include Solano, Kyle Farmer, Nick Gordon and Willi Castro. • Joe Ryan perfected his sweeper and learned a split-change. “He’s got the perfect (arm) slot for a sweeper,” Driveline director of pitching Chris Langin said of Ryan. “The main modification was an alteration to the grip. It was a spike on the index finger and it allowed him to stay in front of the ball when he threw it, which basically makes it when you’re in a game environment you’re not backing it up too much. … It was just pretty clear that if he can just develop some 50-grade secondary stuff, that’s going to help you a ton.” … Driveline also offers a strength and conditioning assessment and provides ideas on pitch design. With Ryan, Driveline also suggested he develop a split-changeup. National League Braves • Kyle Wright is still on track to miss just one start. Going back to the start of Spring Training, the Braves have said they expect Wright to start during one of the regular season’s first two series. Progress over the past three weeks has only strengthened that opinion. The right-hander will throw live batting practice on Friday, and then possibly make his spring debut next week. Cubs • Adrian Sampson 샘슨 is having issues differentiating his sinker and four-seamer. Sampson said a main issue he is ironing out is creating more separation between his sinker and four-seam fastball. When those pitches are not functioning properly, the result is too many left over the middle. In a preseason setting, a pitcher has the luxury to work on such things. “I’m very lucky it’s Spring Training — that’s the biggest thing right now,” Sampson said. Dodgers • Noah Syndergaard’s fastball velocity was down for his first appearance after it averaged 94 mph last season. Syndergaard’s first pitch was clocked at 91 mph. So was his next one. After a couple of heaters, his velocity did tick up to 92 mph, flashing 93 a few times. It was just his first start of the spring, but the lack of velocity was a bit surprising, even for Syndergaard himself. … The key for Syndergaard might be his ability to mix in his slider and changeup. In his first spring outing, his changeup was his best pitch, helping him toss two scoreless innings. And was still down in his next start. Noah Syndergaard retired all nine he batters he faced in three scoreless innings today against the Padres He had two strikeouts and his fastball ranged from 91-94 mph on the stadium gun, a tick up from his max velo last week — Jack Harris (@Jack_A_Harris) March 6, 2023 • Daniel Hudson will probably not be ready by the start of the season. That positions Hudson for a potential high-leverage relief role, though he might not ready right out of the gate. Skipper Dave Roberts told reporters this afternoon that Hudson’s availability for Opening Day is in question (relayed by Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times). While he’s seemingly past his ACL rehab, the 13-year veteran was delayed in camp after battling ankle tendinitis over the winter. Padres • Ryan Weathers has a new windup. Weathers has debuted a new over-the-head windup, along with crisper stuff.