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.
Los Angeles Angels, Joe Maddon hope to get Mike Trout before season ends, though his ‘timeline keeps getting pushed back’
Trout missed his 67th game since going on the injured list May 18 with a right calf strain. This is only the third time he has been on the injured list in his 11 big league seasons, and this is his longest stretch of missed games.
Trout, who turns 30 on Saturday, went on the injured list a day after he came up limping when he was on the bases in the first inning of a home game against Cleveland. He had been expected to miss six to eight weeks, but Tuesday marked 11 weeks since he was put on the injured list. Trout wasn’t with the team in Texas.
“Obviously, the timeline keeps getting pushed back,” Maddon said. “We all thought that he’d be playing right around now at the worst, and it’s not happening. We’ll keep playing it all the way through.”
With the Angels under .500 and in fourth place in the AL West with 55 games remaining after the second of four against the Rangers, Maddon was asked if there had been any thought of not having Trout try to return this season.
“He’s working really hard. He wants to get back, so we have not had a discussion of just giving up on him,” Maddon said.
When he got hurt, Trout was leading the major leagues with a .466 on-base percentage. He hit .333 with eight homers and 18 RBIs in 36 games.
Trout is in the third year of the $426.5 million, 12-year contract he signed during spring training in 2019. The overall value changed slightly when the pandemic shortened last season to 60 games, reducing his salary to $15 million from $36 million.
Tampa Bay Rays’ Tyler Glasnow to have Tommy John surgery Wednesday
Glasnow has been on the injured list since June 15. The 27-year-old right-hander went 5-2 with a 2.66 ERA in 14 starts.
The news was not unexpected.
Glasnow visited Dr. Keith Meister on Saturday, at which time Rays manager Kevin Cash said surgery was the likely outcome.
The decision was finalized after a follow-up examination Tuesday.
Tampa Bay began the day leading the American League East by one game over the Boston Red Sox despite having 15 pitchers on the IL.
Toronto Blue Jays’ Cavan Biggio goes on 10-day IL with nagging back issue
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said Biggio has been bothered by the back issue all season, but said he is hopeful the stint won’t be longer than the minimum.
Biggio, 26, went 0-for-3 with a walk in Monday night’s 5-2 loss in 10 innings. He is batting .215 with seven homers and 26 RBIs this season.
In a corresponding move, outfielder Corey Dickerson was activated from the IL and started in Tuesday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians. Dickerson was sixth in the lineup as the designated hitter.
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