The 2012 regular season technically got underway last week when the Athletics and Mariners played two games at Japan’s Tokyo Dome. But Major League Baseball barely even publicized that series (for reasons unknown) and Wednesday's game in Miami between the Cardinals and Marlins is still being labeled as “Opening Night.”
So ... well ... happy baseball season!
Or happy belated baseball season!
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Worst Case Scenario For Boston's Bailey
Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey was diagnosed Tuesday with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb and will undergo reconstructive surgery at the Cleveland Clinic on Wednesday. Early estimates had him missing 3-4 months, but Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald says it's possible that his recovery could drag into September.
It's a pie-in-the-face moment for the Red Sox, who took a chance this winter on the injury-prone former A's closer, acquiring him as part of a five-player trade. He's been a superb reliever when healthy, but Bailey always had trouble avoiding the disabled list during his time in Oakland and now his first year in Boston is looking like a definite bust.
The Red Sox haven't announced a replacement for him in the ninth inning, choosing to wait until their regular-season opener draws closer. So we're left guessing whether it's going to be Mark Melancon, who saved 20 games last year in Houston, or Alfredo Aceves, who may be owed a favor for being dropped from the rotation mix.
Melancon is the better fit because he has experience in the ninth inning and because Aceves is more useful as a multi-inning reliever. But Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine is as unpredictable as it gets and could go in any direction (though returning Daniel Bard to the bullpen has, mercifully, been ruled out). Keep it tuned to our player news page and we'll try to sort this thing out together. Whichever pitcher eventually gets the nod will hold a considerable amount of fantasy value on what looks to be a dynamite Red Sox team.
UPDATE: It's going to be Aceves. He obviously needs to be owned in all eligible fantasy formats.
Nationals Finally Sort Out Starting Rotation
Just last week, Washington manager Davey Johnson told reporters that southpaw John Lannan was going to handle the fifth spot in the team's season-opening starting rotation while Chien-Ming Wang recovered from his severely-strained left hamstring. But Johnson flipped that script on Tuesday evening, naming Ross Detwiler as Wang's fill-in while announcing that Lannan had been optioned to Triple-A Syracuse.
Lannan has started on Opening Day twice in his Natoinals career and posted a cool 3.70 ERA in 184 2/3 innings last year. He's also owed a $5 million salary in 2012, making him the highest-paid player in baseball history to be sent to the minor leagues before the end of spring training.
But this shouldn't necessarily be taken as bad news. At least, not for Nationals fans. It's a new era in D.C., where league-average is no longer good enough. Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Detwiler represent a significant upgrade over any collection of starters the Nats have fielded in the past. Which is why they're drawing quite a bit of buzz as a potential Wild Card winner.
Detwiler, 26, posted a 3.00 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 66 major-league innings last season while functioning as both a starter and reliever. The former sixth overall pick does not possess swing-and-miss stuff -- his career K/9 in the majors is a weak 5.3 -- but Nationals Park is quite pitcher-friendly and he could make for a decent streaming option in deeper mixed leagues on days (or weeks) when his matchup looks favorable.
National League Quick Hits: Brewers slugger Corey Hart went 2-for-3 with a run scored Tuesday in his first game back from knee surgery and has been cleared for the start of the regular season ... Chipper Jones is aiming to return from knee surgery before the Braves' home opener on April 13 ... Nationals closer Drew Storen was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a sore elbow but should be ready by mid-April ... Troy Tulowitzki (elbow) has recovered swiftly from Ubaldo Jimenez's beanball and should be fine for Opening Day ... Michael Morse landed on the disabled list Tuesday with a strained right lat but should be ready as soon as he's eligible ... The Reds claimed reliever Alfredo Simon off waivers from the Orioles ... Daniel Descalso will start at second base over Tyler Greene for the Cardinals on Opening Night ... Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer has been cleared for Opening Day after missing a couple of weeks with a sprained hand ... The Nationals placed Rick Ankiel on the disabled list with a quad injury but he is expected to be cleared for the Nationals' home opener on April 12 ... Even after signing Joey Votto to a whopping 10-year, $225 million deal, the Reds are still trying to lock up Brandon Phillips ... The Braves signed Chad Durbin to a one-year contract ... Jed Lowrie (thumb) may have to open the season on the disabled list ... The Mets are confident that closer Frank Francisco (knee) will be ready for Opening Day.
American League Quick Hits: The Rangers have discussed a six-year contract extension with second baseman Ian Kinsler and are expected to present a formal offer on Wednesday ... Rays closer Kyle Farnsworth might wind up on the disabled list to open the year because of elbow soreness ... Andy Pettitte is scheduled to pitch in Wednesday's exhibition game against the Mets and could be ready for major league action by early May ... Rangers setup man Mike Adams is day-to-day with a bruised calf ... Nelson Cruz is day-to-day with a bruised elbow after getting struck by a pitch in Tuesday's exhibition game ... Recovering A's left-hander Brett Anderson threw a 40-pitch bullpen session Tuesday and is still on track for an August return ... Orioles left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada will miss the first couple weeks of the regular season due to a sore elbow ... Dallas Braden has been shut down for the next three weeks after straining his surgically-repaired throwing shoulder ... Adam Dunn is expected to bat third for the White Sox this year ... The A's placed Daric Barton on the 15-day disabled list due to lingering complications related to his September shoulder surgery ... Sam Fuld is out 4-5 months after undergoing wrist surgery ... The Tigers placed reliever Luis Marte on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain.