While this article is a little shorter than normal, I combed through all the recent articles and got caught up. I’m out the first part of the week but will see how much information is available for a mid-week article.
• Hitters could struggle without the needed reps against pitching.
Shelton said the Pirates are more concerned with transitioning their position players back into game-type activity, as it could be a shock to their systems to face live pitching for the first time in three months.
• The starters will be ahead of a normal Spring Training schedule with one pitcher up to five innings back in May.
Indians pitchers pledged months ago to arrive at Spring Training Part 2 — Summer Training? 2 Spring 2 Training? — more prepared than they would be for a traditional spring ramp-up period. By the end of May, one Indians starter had already built up to a five-inning workload. But with an abbreviated schedule and expanded rosters, will teams even deploy pitchers in a customary fashion? The Indians could get creative, given their depth. Before injuries intervened, they had three starting pitchers — Plesac, Plutko and Aaron Civale — jockeying for the final two rotation spots.
• The Mariners are going to focus on youth but not to the point of calling up all their prospects.
“We want to be as competitive as we can be for these 60 games,” Dipoto said, “but we remain fixated on the idea that this roster rebuild is at a really sensitive stage. We need to make sure that those young players are getting their reps.”
“We have enough utility players who play all over the field that we feel confident that we don’t need a breadth of bodies,” Dipoto said. “With players like Sam Haggerty and Dylan Moore and even the versatility of a Dee Gordon, guys like Tim Lopes, even Patrick Wisdom and José Marmolejos, they play so many different positions that they give us great advantage. And that allows us to carry more of those young players who aren’t likely to see the Major Leagues this year.”
“We do still have to be cognizant of the fact that Jarred Kelenic still hasn’t had 100 plate appearances above Class A ball,” Dipoto said. “And with Logan Gilbert, the intent was that he would have pitched a half season by now at the Double-A/Triple-A level to prepare himself.”
• The Royals will be way ahead of a normal Spring Training.
“The overall feel from the guys was very positive. They sent us videos to see what ways they could improve and really try to utilize this time. I couldn’t have been any more proud. I think our guys are going to show up ready to go. We’re going to have live batting practices, and we’ll have multiple ups-and-downs for the pitchers.
“I believe we’re going to be much further ahead than we would have been for a normal Spring Training.”
Miguel Cabrera showed up to spring training in Florida looking slim, muscular and … younger? A revamped diet and a winter’s worth of hard workouts were necessary for Cabrera to save his career, which has been derailed by a chronic right knee injury. Cabrera hopes to stay on the field and avoid pain by putting less weight and stress on his knee. In spring training, his swing looked improved from last season, when he was compensating for the pain and essentially hitting on one leg. All we’ve seen from Cabrera since are a few Instagram posts, in which he still looks to be in top shape.
The 60-game season puts the Yankees in an interesting position with Germán, who has 63 games left to serve on his 81-game suspension under the league’s domestic violence policy. The games he missed during the 2019 postseason were counted toward his suspension, so if this is kept consistent, Germán would miss the entire regular season and the first three games of the postseason.
• The Dodgers starters will only throw four innings the first time through the rotation.
Dave Roberts already said this week he expects starters to throw four innings the first time through the rotation.
Given how Zaidi and Kapler have spoken about Darin Ruf in recent days, it’s an assumption at this point that the right-handed power hitter will merit a place on the roster as a bench bat and DH.
“I think we’re all excited about the engine that Jaylin Davis owns,” Kapler said Tuesday on KNBR’s “Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks” show. “He’s got tremendous bat speed, he’s got the ability to get the ball in the air. If he can make enough contact, he’s gonna knock the ball out of the ballpark to all parts of the field. At times in camp, he did that both in live batting practice sessions and in games.”
“I think there is a strong chance [Cespedes] is going to be ready once the 60-game season starts,” a club source told the New York Post’s Mike Puma on Wednesday. “And having his bat in the lineup, that is special.”
• Joe Girardi plans to rotate his stars through the DH lineup spot.
To keep players fresher during this 60-game-in-66-day sprint, Girardi plans to use Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins and Andrew McCutchen as the designated hitter at times. Jay Bruce figures to be the Phillies’ primary DH, but Girardi also wants to get those four key players off of their feet when he can.
• The starters should be built up to four to five innings when they report.
“Honestly, our guys are already built up to four, five innings,” Shelton said earlier this week. “[Pitching coach Oscar Marin has] done a really good job of building up our group in terms of where they’re at and what their function is. … Most of our pitchers have been in a situation where they’ve been facing hitters for over two weeks now.”
• The Pirates will rotate bats through the DH spot …
Speaking with reporters in May, manager Derek Shelton said the Pirates would probably float different players through that spot depending on the composition of their roster, who’s healthy, which pitcher they’re facing, who is a better fit in the field and so on.
“I don’t see that we would David Ortiz it or Travis Hafner it,” Shelton said last month.
Polanco sometimes will be used as the designated hitter to reduce wear and tear on his shoulder. The rest of the outfield will be in flux, too, if center fielder Jarrod Dyson will need ample downtime even in a shortened season. Dyson, who will turn 36 on Aug. 15, played in only six games this spring.
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 three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.