Kevin Gausman will start Tuesday's Grapefruit League game against the Rays.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Thursday that he was considering using Gausman in shorter stints just in case he's needed in relief, but the righty will be stretched out to around five innings Tuesday. While Gausman could still be the favorite for the No. 5 starter spot, it's possible the O's will pull a surprise and give the job to Ubaldo Jimenez.
Red Sox catching prospect Blake Swihart could be in the mix for an Opening Day roster spot if Christian Vazquez (elbow) needs a disabled list stint.
Swihart has already been optioned to Triple-A, but the club can always bring him back to major league camp. It seems unlikely unless Vazquez, whose MRI results will be revealed Friday, is set for an extended absence. Humberto Quintero and Luke Montz are also options to fill in behind the plate.
Jon Niese admitted Thursday to battling fatigue in his left shoulder this spring.
He tweaked his delivery during an intrasquad game Thursday and said the shoulder "actually felt a lot better. I wasn’t fatigued at the end." Niese has dealt with shoulder problems each of the last two seasons and it seems clear at this point that he's probably never going to pitch at 100 percent again. There's been no indication that the shoulder will affect his readiness for Opening Day, but the ailment certainly lowers Niese's ceiling and makes him susceptible to stints on the disabled list.
The Yankees have named Masahiro Tanaka their Opening Day starter.
Tanaka's elbow has held up thus far in camp, so it's a no-brainer to send him out there on April 6 versus the Blue Jays. The Yanks also announced that Tanaka would be followed in the rotation by Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia and Nathan Eovaldi. Adam Warren is the favorite to capture the final spot in the rotation. Tanaka's upside his sky-high, but he remains a big health risk in 2015.
Nick Swisher (knees) played in a minor league game Thursday.
He was cleared after testing out his surgically-repaired knees with some sliding drills prior to the game. "He slid on the mat," said Indians manager Terry Francona. "He needed to do that. You can't let a guy get in a game without being able to slide because you never know what can happen." Swisher has made nice progress recently but will begin the season on the disabled list.
Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that Danny Salazar "might have cost himself a spot in the rotation" with his poor outing Thursday.
Salazar gave up seven runs on six hits in 3 1/3 innings against the Reds. Indians manager Terry Francona noted that the club "would never make a decision on one start," but it's possible Salazar is behind Zach McAllister in the pecking order now. Salazar has a 15/5 K/BB ratio over 11 innings this spring but has allowed 13 runs (10 earned). McAllister holds a 3.21 ERA over his 14 frames to go along with a 15/4 K/BB ratio. Perhaps just as important, McAllister is out of options and Salazar has one left. Fantasy owners are certainly rooting for the immensely talented Salazar to pull through.
Jason Kipnis (back) returned to Cactus League play on Thursday.
Kipnis singled in his first at-bat and also made a diving play in the field. Most importantly, he didn't have any issues with his back. The second baseman got a late start while working his way back from finger surgery and also missed over a week with back spasms, but he fully expects to be fine for Opening Day. "Some guys need 30 at-bats, some guys need 80 at-bats," said Kipnis. "If you're going good, you want to get going faster. I'm feeling good at the plate so I'm ready to start whenever we get there. If I get 20 or 30 more at-bats, that will be great for me."
Taijuan Walker is next scheduled to start on Monday, while Roenis Elias is not currently penciled in for any more Cactus League starts.
As Bob Dutton of the Tacoma New Tribune notes, it's a pretty clear indication that Walker will be the Mariners' No. 5 starter even if the team hasn't announced it yet. While Elias holds a 6.75 ERA and 8/7 K/BB ratio over 14 2/3 innings this spring, Walker is unscored upon over 18 frames while boasting a 19/4 K/BB ratio. The 22-year-old looks to have won the job going away and is a potential breakout performer from the back-end of an impressive Mariners rotation.