Andrew Bailey began last season on the disabled list, and it sounds like he might be headed there again to kick off the 2012 campaign.
It’s been revealed that the Red Sox closer is dealing with an injury to the thumb on his pitching hand. Although details are sketchy at this point, Bailey hasn’t appeared in a spring training game in over a week, and he’s been sent back to Boston to get checked out.
We don’t know how the injury occurred, nor do we know how long he might be out, so it’s pointless to speculate before he gets looked at by doctors in Beantown. But, the bottom line is that the Red Sox’ season opener is a mere four days away, so there has to be a good chance it will be someone other than Bailey that gets the ball in a save situation early on this season.
So who would the Sox turn to in the ninth inning? Mark Melancon saved 20 games for the Astros last season and would appear to be the obvious candidate, but also in the mix will be Alfredo Aceves, who lost out on a rotation spot. In fact, Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com predicted that it would indeed likely be Aceves to slide into the role. Both pitchers are worth speculative FAAB bids.
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Francisco shipped to Atlanta
The Reds weren’t happy when Juan Francisco showed up to camp overweight, and he didn’t do himself any favors by batting under .200 this spring. But, because he was out of options, Francisco was expected to make the team’s Opening Day roster anyway.
Well, he’ll be on an Opening Day roster, it just won’t be Cincinnati’s.
The Reds traded Francisco to the Braves Sunday in exchange for relief prospect JJ Hoover. The move is bad for Francisco in that he’ll leave Great American Ballpark, but it’s good because there’s an immediate opening at third base with Chipper Jones (knee) slated to begin the season on the disabled list.
The 24-year-old is expected to receive the bulk of the playing time at the hot corner until Chipper is ready, with Martin Prado moving back to left field. Francisco can also fill in in left field himself on occasion, as well as first base. And, while Jones is supposed to only miss a couple weeks, we all know that he’s constantly banged up, so Francisco could wind up getting a decent amount of playing time if he handles himself well. His power potential makes him worthy of an NL-only roster spot.
Hamilton front and center
The Rangers haven’t hidden the fact that they want Josh Hamilton to permanently move from center field to a corner outfield position in order to preserve his legs and help keep him healthy. But, with no one seizing control of the center field job and the Rangers loving the thunder a lineup having Hamilton in center can bring, he’s wound up playing there more than expected the last couple years.
It appears that will be the case again this season.
Hamilton entered camp as the likely starter in left field, with Craig Gentry, Julio Borbon and Leonys Martin competing for the center field job. But, with none of the latter three standing out, the Rangers have scraped the competition and will stick Hamilton back in the middle of the diamond. It’s not ideal from a fantasy perspective, as Hamilton would seem to be more susceptible to injury while having to cover more ground.
The news affects Borbon and David Murphy more than anyone else. Borbon could have been on the strong side of a platoon in center with Gentry, but now he’ll be relegated to a bench role. Murphy, on the other hand, looks poised to receive more at-bats, as he should start in left field against right-handers, with Gentry facing the lefties. While he doesn’t stand out in any one area, Murphy has notched double-digit homers and steals two years running, and he should have a good chance to do so again in 2012, making him a viable AL-only league option.
Hart good to go?
Although Brewers manager Ron Roenicke wouldn’t come out and say it definitively, it appears that Corey Hart will head north as part of the team’s Opening Day roster rather than spend time on the disabled list.
Hart played in a minor league game Sunday for the fifth straight day and passed the test with flying colors. Roenicke sounds confident that the outfielder will be ready to roll on Friday, but he’s also cautious about rushing Hart back too soon as the club did last season.
"He's doing really well," Roenicke told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "We're not concerned that he'll have a setback and have to go on the DL. The tough call is do we feel he's ready (to play several innings each day if not the entire game). He understands the issue after last year (when Hart rushed back from an oblique injury and wasn't ready to play in April)."
In the long run it’s not a huge deal, as the Brewers can backdate Hart’s DL stint if need be and he would miss only a few days. But, you can bet that they’d like to be at full strength on Opening Day against the World Champion Cardinals after the Redbirds bounced them from the playoffs in last year’s NLCS.