Every spring, teams have strong performances by players with low expectations of making the team. Sometimes, there are younger players proving they are ready earlier than anticipated. Sometimes, it’s older players coming off injuries trying to prove they have what it takes. Sometimes, it’s guys who seem to have fallen through the cracks, but take advantage of an open competition or injuries ahead of them. Below are 30 such players, one for each team, who have an opportunity to surprise you this spring and grab a role on the big league club in April.
Angels: LHP Ian Krol. Krol was very good with the Braves in 2016, and then terrible last season. But he’s still a lefty whose fastball sits around 93-94 mph, and a good run this spring could land him a job in the bullpen.
Astros: 1B/DH A.J. Reed. The Astros don’t really have a need for much right now, and Reed didn’t impress during his opportunity back in 2016, but he still has a good bat that could help Houston. Both Evan Gattis and Yulieski Gurriel are right-handed and if Reed can translate a few of his 34 minor league homers from last season to the bigs, he could earn MLB at-bats.
Athletics: OF Anthony Garcia. A poor 2016 season and a glut of progressing outfielders in the Cardinals’ system made Garcia the victim of a numbers game. After a solid 2017 season in Double- and Triple-A, the minor league free agent has landed somewhere he might get the opportunity to show off a balanced game and his patience and power at the plate.
Boston Red Sox OF J.D. Martinez goes on COVID-19 injured list; Michael Chavis recalled
Martinez underwent coronavirus testing, and the team is awaiting the results.
Going on the COVID-19 IL does not require a positive test. If he tests negative twice, Martinez can return to the lineup for the series finale Sunday at Baltimore.
“We feel pretty confident that he’ll be able to be with us [Sunday], but obviously we have to wait,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.
Martinez has been of the hottest hitters in MLB to start the season. He is batting .433 (13 for 30) with seven doubles, two home runs and 12 RBIs.
Martinez entered the day leading all major league players in extra-base hits with nine. He has also recorded at least one extra-base hit in all of his team’s first seven games of the year, making him one of five players in MLB history to accomplish that feat.
Cora fully understands the league’s precaution with Martinez.
“I’ll tell you my story in spring training,” Cora said. “We got this app that they asked you how you feel, right? I had allergies in spring training, and you got to be honest, you know, as far as like, ‘OK, so I felt this.’ And as soon as I sent it, I got a text, a phone call and a lot of people panic and in less than five minutes. So I had to go to JetBlue Park, do the rapid test, stay in my office until they gave me the green light and that was it.
“But it’s understandable, right? We know what we are fighting against. But we don’t know how it moves or when we can get it, where, but I understand the protocols. I’m OK with it. So if we don’t have J.D. for one day, so be it, you know? Somebody has to step up and do the job tonight.”
Teams can carry up to five players on a taxi squad on the road in case of a coronavirus outbreak.
The Red Sox recalled Michael Chavis from the alternate training site to fill the opening on the 26-man roster. Chavis hit .250 (15 for 60) with three doubles, six home runs, 11 RBIs and a .892 OPS over 25 preseason games this spring.
Jacob deGrom’s 14 K’s unable to overcome Trevor Rogers’ gem as Marlins blank Mets
NEW YORK — Jacob deGrom matched a career best with 14 strikeouts over eight innings, but as is often the case for the two-time Cy Young Award winner, he failed to get any run support as the Miami Marlins blanked the New York Mets 3-0 Saturday.
DeGrom (0-1) looked unhittable early — until Jazz Chisholm Jr. barreled a 100.4 mph, 0-2 fastball thrown above the strike zone in the second inning. The left-handed hitter’s drive reached the second deck in right field and was estimated at 402 feet.
It was the first 0-2 homer deGrom has allowed in the majors.
“[Chisholm] sold out for it,” deGrom said. “Probably should have done a better job recognizing he was going to try to get to that fastball.”
The homer was all Miami could muster against deGrom. The right-hander reached 14 strikeouts for the fourth time — including three times against the Marlins. He allowed a run, five hits, walked none and threw 76 of his 95 pitches for strikes.
Plagued throughout his career by insufficient run support, deGrom was tagged with another disappointing loss. He even accounted for one of New York’s three hits.
“Unfortunately, we’ve been through this before,” center fielder Brandon Nimmo said. “It’s never easy.”
Marlins left-hander Trevor Rogers didn’t make things easy for the Mets, fanning 10 in six to beat deGrom for the second time in nine major league starts. The 23-year-old got his first big-league win against deGrom in a 5-3 victory last Aug. 31.
“Best in baseball, Jacob deGrom is,” Rogers said. “You really have to bring your best and then some. To see me and our whole team go out and compete with the best, it just shows you how good we are.”
A 2017 first-round draft pick, Rogers cruised against New York as he scattered three hits and two walks, retiring 11 straight in one stretch.
Rogers mixed a fastball averaging 95 mph with a slider and changeup, inducing 19 swing-and-misses among his 82 pitches. He ended his outing with strikeouts of Michael Conforto and Pete Alonso, stranding two runners to preserve a 1-0 lead.
Dylan Floro followed with a perfect seventh; Richard Bleier was helped by shortstop Miguel Rojas‘ diving catch to rob pinch-hitter Kevin Pillar during a 1-2-3 eighth and Yimi Garcia completed the three-hitter for his first save, who was called on instead of struggling closer Anthony Bass.
New York closer Edwin Diaz, meanwhile, relieved deGrom and struggled. Starling Marte hit a leadoff double and scored the next at-bat on a single by Jesus Aguilar. Rojas added an RBI single before Diaz was pulled and booed off the mound.
Mets fans also jeered Conforto, who struck out three times to extend a slump to start what could be his final season in New York. The right fielder is set to become a free agent in the fall.
The 32-year-old deGrom looked better than ever in his eighth major league season. Not only is he averaging 99 mph with his fastball — up from 94 mph when he debuted in 2014 — he’s throwing it with more “rise,” too. The pitch is dropping one inch less on average than it did in 2020, making it look to batters like it’s moving up in the strike zone as it approaches.
DeGrom punched out at least 10 hitters for the 47th time, passing Dwight Gooden for second-most in Mets history, trailing only Tom Seaver’s 60.
New York starters have turned in four quality starts in the team’s first five games but sit at 2-3 on the season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
New York Yankees option Domingo German after another rough outing
German allowed four runs and eight hits in four innings, walking one and striking out five. After looking sharp in spring training, the righty has yielded four homers in seven innings over two starts to this season.
German, 28, missed all of 2020 while serving the remainder of an 81-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy in 2019.
He publicly apologized for the incident early in camp but refused to discuss the events that led to his ban. He also addressed teammates in group and individual settings.
The Yankees welcomed his return — but with some wariness.
“We have his back,” slugger Luke Voit said back in February. “But he’s skating on thin ice.”
German was a breakout contributor before his ban in 2019, going 18-4 with a 4.03 ERA. He locked up the No. 3 spot in New York’s rotation after a strong spring training, but those results have yet to translate to the regular season.
After Saturday’s game, German rejected the notion that there’s some lingering rustiness due to not pitching last year.
“I feel really good … but that’s how it goes,” German said through a translator. “Hitters make adjustments [in the regular season] and pitchers have to make adjustments. It’s up to me to make the right adjustments.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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