Orioles catcher Matt Wieters took an important step in his rehab from last June's Tommy John surgery by getting back behind the plate Tuesday for the first time this spring. However, 24 hours later, the news wasn't as rosy in Orioles camp.
Wieters felt some tendinitis in his surgically-repaired elbow after catching six innings on Tuesday and his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, recommended a temporary shutdown. The new plan calls for him to avoid catching for the next week, though he could serve as the designated hitter on Sunday or perhaps sooner.
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Orioles manager Buck Showalter told Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com that the move was precautionary, but he also said that Wieters won't likely be on the Opening Day roster if he can't catch without pain. There's still a couple of weeks to go before the start of the regular season, so progress is certainly possible, but there's at least a chance that he'll begin the season on the disabled list. Given the depth at the catcher position right now, those in standard mixed fantasy leagues can afford to look at safer options, especially if your draft is happening soon.
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Ellsbury Slowed With Oblique Injury
When Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Tuesday that Jacoby Ellsbury was dealing with a lower abdominal injury, he made sure to stress that it was "mild" and that he could return to action later this week. However, as these situations often go, he will be out a little longer than originally anticipated.
Ellsbury will be shut down for the next week after an MRI on Wednesday showed a mild oblique strain. It's unclear how he suffered the injury, but Paul Casella of MLB.com reports that he began feeling symptoms before Sunday's game. Girardi remains confident that Ellsbury will be ready for Opening Day, but oblique injuries can be very tricky to manage, so it's hardly a lock at this point.
After signing a seven-year, $153 million contract with the Yankees last winter, Ellsbury batted .271/328/.419 with 16 home runs, 70 RBI, 39 stolen bases, and 71 runs scored across 149 games in 2014. The 31-year-old mostly batted third during his first season with New York, but he's expected to hit leadoff this year. There's still tremendous upside in fantasy leagues if he's healthy. Just watch the video linked here, which in the interest of full disclosure, was taped prior to this week's injury.
Two-thirds of Miami's fantastic outfield is now locked up for the foreseeable future. After giving slugger Giancarlo Stanton the richest contract in MLB history over the winter, the Marlins have reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $49.57 million extension with Christian Yelich. The deal is the second-largest ever for a player with less than two years of service time, trailing only Andrelton Simmons' seven-year, $58 million deal with the Braves.
According to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, Yelich's extension includes a club option for an eighth year at $15 million with a $1.25 million buyout. This means that he could max out at $63.32 million in the deal. Yelich wasn't due to be arbitration-eligible until after the 2016 season and wouldn't have been a free agent until after the 2019 season, so assuming the extension begins this year, it will buy out all of his arbitration years and at least one year of free agency.
The extension gives the Marlins some cost-certainty moving forward and Yelich appears to be a pretty good player to bank on. The 23-year-old has displayed an advanced approach at the plate for a young player, compiling an impressive .285/.365/.400 batting line across 206 games to go along with good speed and strong defense in left field. He figures to add more power in time, but he's already quite valuable.
Drafting Among Friends
I took part in the annual Yahoo Friends & Family draft on Wednesday afternoon. This is my third year in the league, which features some familiar names from the fantasy community, including Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer) and Patrick Daugherty (@rotopat) from right here at Rotoworld. There are 14 teams in all (5x5 format with a limit of 1,400 innings) and it's a very competitive league. You can see the full results of the draft here.
After winning the league in my first year, I fell back to 10th place last season. Part of the reason for the drop-off was because I lacked in both power and speed. I put an emphasis on both categories this year -- not just with selections like Giancarlo Stanton and Ben Revere -- but also a number of players who have double-digit potential in both homers and steals. There's a new 125-move limit this year, so I also wanted to maximize flexibility. I think I was able to accomplish that by securing players like Buster Posey (C/1B eligible), Ben Zobrist (SS/2B/OF eligible), Arismendy Alcantara (2B/OF eligible) and Stephen Vogt (1B/C/OF eligible). This also covers me in the event of an injury.
As for the pitching side, I went all in to get a pair of aces with David Price and Cole Hamels early on. However, I was also able to wait to get two intriguing arms much later with Garrett Richards (at 170 overall) and Michael Pineda (at 223 overall). Pitching is very deep and there are great values all around. Jimmy Nelson (338) was my final pick of the draft, just to give you an idea of a popular sleeper going off the board. Closers went quickly in this league, so I was just happy to get two -- Trevor Rosenthal and Jenrry Mejia -- who will begin the season with jobs.
I'll try to give occasional updates on how my team is doing -- likely in my weekly Waiver Wired column -- as the season moves along. Hopefully it will be good news, but this league is a fun exercise no matter what.