Wholesale Kansas City Royals Jerseys

Everyone wants to be optimistic. Well, almost everyone. Hope springs internal and there was no shortage of hope in Spring Training. Maybe the Kansas City Royals could be sneaky good this season, despite some key losses in free agency.

There was also the thought that the Kansas City Royals could end up at the bottom of the American League standings while going through a rebuilding. This process would be similar to a few years ago, one that worked out in their favor.

I would say two straight trips to the World Series, winning the title the second time around, was a successful rebuild. Should have been back-to-back champs if not for Madison Bumgarner but I digress.

“Rebuilding” is not a word that fans like to hear. Many prefer the route that teams such as the New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, and Milwaukee Brewers took last season. A mixture of both youth up-and-coming talent with veterans pieced in a winning formula.

There was a term that TCU head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle once told me a couple of years ago – “You don’t rebuild, you reload.”
The Royals were hoping that might be the case in 2018.

So, here’s where things stand going into the last full week of April. The Royals are 5-15 (record should be better if not for bullpen problems) and look every bit of a rebuilding project.

However, there is some optimism as the calendar prepares to switch to May and it has everything to do with the lineup.

No doubt, the offense struggled out of the gate. Hitting in the clutch just was not happening on a consistent basis. Not to make any excuses but it can be very difficult to get into a groove at the plate when the elements do you no favors. Most of your early season games were played in the cold. They also mixed in with a few postponements due to “inclement weather”. Not the best way to start out on the journey.

Despite the weather, the lineup did show some signs of getting out of an early season funk and start putting runs on the board. There were plenty of times hitters such as Mike Moustakas, Whit Merrifield, Cheslor Cuthbert and Abraham Almonte were squaring up the ball but ended up with hard outs.
The tide may be turning if Sunday afternoon is any indication.

Moustakas extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a three-run blast. Merrifield had a solo shot and Almonte joined in the fun with a grand slam as the Royals earned the 8-5 road win over the Detroit Tigers.

What’s big about this is that the Royals offense looked the same as it had during the first month of the season, one that was struggling to do anything. They didn’t have a hit until the sixth inning when Merrifield led off with the solo homer. After that, things started to click.

Almonte’s Grand Slam later in the inning erased a 2-1 deficit, making it a 5-2 game in favor of Kansas City. The Tigers would later tie things up before Moustakas took an off-speed pitch that hung over the inside part of the plate for what would be the game-deciding three-run homer.

The Royals had an answer every time the Tigers would counter. That’s a good sign going into May and beyond.
Final Thoughts

Also, keep in mind that injuries played a big part out of the gate. Catcher Salvador Perez has yet to take the field this season due to a knee injury. Outfielder Alex Gordon later hit the DL with a left hip injury. Both are expected to return to Kansas City in the near future and both will boost both sides of the ball, in the lineup and on the field.

Important to point out that the temperature on Sunday was a sunny 56 degrees in Detroit. Interesting to see how this offense will do once the temperature gauge starts to rise over the next few months.

What do you think Royals fans? Is the offense starting to heat up a bit? Let us know below!

Wholesale Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Jerseys

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The sliders sailed high, the splitters were spiked, and the fastballs remained flat.

The impressive arsenal of pitches that Shohei Ohtani displayed through his first two starts for the Los Angeles Angels were nowhere to be found against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night, and he was removed after two innings with a blister on his right middle finger.

The two-way Japanese rookie sensation left after just 66 pitches. He gave up three runs on four hits — including one of Mookie Betts’ three home runs — in a 10-1 loss at a sold-out Angel Stadium.

“[The blister] had an effect on the overall command of all his pitches,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

“He didn’t say anything in warm-ups about it. …. He got through two innings, but we don’t want it to get any worse. Just make sure you bounce back for his next start, which we anticipate right now.”

The date of Ohtani’s next scheduled start has yet to be determined. The blister isn’t expected to impact his ability to hit, which leaves open the possibility that he will serve as the designated hitter in Thursday’s series finale.

“We’ll be flexible,” Scioscia said when asked specifically if Ohtani would start next Tuesday. “Obviously, this is a new wrinkle right now, with the blister coming up, but we’ll get into that later in the week. He’s going to hit a couple times, obviously, before he pitches again. We’ll see where everything sets up.”

Ohtani, 23, dealt with blisters on the same finger in Japan and said through his interpreter that they typically don’t impact his availability.

“I’ve fought through it,” said Ohtani, who was still able to hit 100 mph on the radar gun with a handful of second-inning pitches. “I think it’s going to be something similar this time too.”

Ohtani, who surrendered only three runs in his first 13 innings, began the game by giving up a leadoff home run to Betts. He also gave up two walks while throwing only 52 percent of his pitches for strikes and generating just three swing-and-misses.

“He didn’t have his off-speed pitches, and his fastball wasn’t as good as it has been the last two games,” Angels catcher Martin Maldonado said. “They took advantage of it.”

Ohtani took the mound on eight days’ rest because his Sunday start against the Kansas City Royals was postponed due to frigid weather.

The blister actually developed during Ohtani’s previous start, when he carried a perfect game into the seventh inning against the Oakland Athletics.

“The medical people took a look at it, and they felt like it would be fine for today,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “I also felt the same way. I tried to pitch, but with the high intensity of the game, it didn’t hold up too well.”

Ohtani spiked five pitches in the first inning, one of which bounced about 5 feet in front of home plate and resulted in a wild pitch. He began the second inning with two high sliders that backed up Eduardo Nunez, then allowed each of the next four batters to reach base, with Brock Holt providing an RBI single and Andrew Benintendi adding a sacrifice fly.

“My splitter, I didn’t have good command of that. My fastball, I didn’t feel off my fingertips. Same with my slider,” Ohtani said.

Ohtani threw just 34 percent of his off-speed pitches for strikes, down from 68 percent in his first two starts, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Sixty-two percent of his off-speed pitches were noncompetitive pitches, which means they were more than 18 inches from the center of the strike zone. That was a sharp increase from the 26 percent in his first two starts.

It wasn’t until Ohtani exited that Maldonado found out the pitcher had been dealing with a blister.

“I didn’t know [he didn’t have his best stuff] right away because sometimes he doesn’t have it one inning, and the next inning, he’ll go out there, and he’ll have it,” Maldonado said. “Maybe he bounces one split-finger [fastball], and the next pitch he throws it filthy. It’s hard to tell when he has it or he doesn’t have it.”

The Ohtani craze continued Tuesday, with an announced crowd of 44,822 — the team’s first sell-out on a Tuesday in four years. The Angels’ public relations department also issued approximately 160 additional credentials.

Ohtani dominated in his first two starts, at one point retiring 27 consecutive hitters in a stretch that covered both outings against the A’s. Offensively, he carried a .367/.424/.767 slash line, with three home runs in 33 plate appearances.

Scioscia was asked pregame to compare what Ohtani was doing to the hype that surrounded Fernando Valenzuela, his former Los Angeles Dodgers teammate, in the 1980s. The manager’s assessment: “He has the chance to be just as dynamic in his first season.”

Wholesale Los Angeles Dodgers Jerseys

Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Dodgers

Mason City native Jake Peter can play almost every position on a baseball field.

But no one has been able to find him a spot on a big-league roster.

That could change this season, as Peter’s been given a new opportunity after being traded from the Chicago White Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the offseason.

“I think there’s a little bit more opportunity for me here,” Peter said of his new home in the Dodgers’ system. “Being a versatile player, I think that bodes well for me in this organization because you look at pretty much every guy they have in the big leagues can play multiple positions.”

That’s been Peter’s calling card ever since the White Sox selected him the seventh round of the 2014 draft. Peter was a super utility man, logging time at every position but pitcher and catcher. He also showed plenty of pop with his bat, hitting a .282 with 86 doubles, 15 triples and 24 homers during his first four professional seasons.

But as good as Peter was with his bat and as versatile as he has been, defensively, he couldn’t rise above the Triple-A level with the White Sox. Peter hoped that would change this season. He was preparing for another season in the system when he got a surprising phone call over the winter months from Chris Getz, Chicago’s director of player development.

Peter, who was back home in Mason City, was told he had been traded to the Dodgers. He was one part of a three-team deal that also included the Kansas City Royals.

“When I got the call that I was traded, it kind of came out of nowhere,” Peter said. “So it caught me off guard. And it was a little overwhelming at first.”


10 MLB prospects who could play the Iowa Cubs this season
Mason City native Jake Peter rising at the right time with the Chicago White Sox
‘Super-utility’ man Jake Peter simply super at bat

After talking to his parents and agent, Peter realized the trade might work out well for him. Peter figured the Dodgers, who love versatility, would certainly covet him and his ability to play all around the field.

Once he got to spring training, Peter didn’t waste any time trying to impress the Dodgers. In 26 big-league spring training games, he smacked three home runs and drove in 14 runs. Despite the strong showing, though, he was sent back to Triple-A, this time with the Oklahoma City Dodgers. While he didn’t break camp with the Dodgers, the spring was still a success.

“I think he’s definitely on the radar,” said Oklahoma City manager Bill Haselman. “I think they were impressed with his spring training. They liked what they saw. He definitely got himself noticed.”

Just like Peter anticipated, the Dodgers loved his ability to bounce around the field.

“It’s huge,” Haselman said. “The Dodgers really value versatile players, and you can put him pretty much anywhere, which gives him a lot of value. He’s a great kid and great teammate.”

Haselman, who coached Peter in the 2015 Arizona Fall League, a league for some of baseball’s biggest prospects, has seen him come a long way since then.

“I think he’s improved a ton since then,” Haselman said. “I really liked what I saw in spring training. He hit for power, plays the game hard and is locked in. Really, I think he has a bright future.”

Peter said the plan is for him to continue getting playing time everywhere. He anticipates the bulk of it will come at second and third along with some time in the outfield and maybe some at shortstop and first base.

“Wherever they need me in the lineup that night is where I’ll get my practice in at BP,” Peter said.

The trade is already working out. Oklahoma City’s first series of the season brought Peter back to his home state to play the Iowa Cubs. He’s had fans and family flocking to Principal Park throughout the series to visit him.

Peter’s family even rented out a skybox for Saturday night’s game. Before he came back, the last time Peter played at the park was in 2011, as a part of the Mason City team that lost to Dowling Catholic in the Class 4-A championship game. Peter said walking into the stadium brought memories flooding back.

“We got our butts kicked — that’s what I really remember about it,” Peter said with a smile. “It was real cool, coming to this ballpark for the first time since my senior year of high school and kind of seeing some of the things that have changed, especially around the field and everything like that.”

Peter even celebrated his 25th birthday on opening day in Iowa last Thursday.

“Even just being back in the state of Iowa and being so close to home, it’s a really good feeling.”

Peter is also happy to have a new home.

“I’ve really enjoyed everybody that I’ve met throughout the organization,” Peter said. “I’m really happy that I’m a Dodger.”

Wholesale Miami Marlins Jerseys

The Miami Marlins split their season opening series with the Chicago Cubs, two games apiece. We’re going to take a closer look at the 25 Miami Marlins players who appeared.

Mostly, I used the Wins Probability Added metric (WPA) to help ascertain which players performed in the higher leverage situations. In other words, if the Miami Marlins are winning, 6-0, a plate appearance doesn’t count as much. Conversely, an at bat with two on and two out in the bottom of the 13th has a very high leverage.

Miami’s entire bullpen and every position player got into at least one game. Every starting pitcher currently on the roster also played at least one game. Famously, Odrisamer Despaigne appeared as both a reliever and as a starter. Brian Ellington, who was recently sent down, didn’t appear in the series.

For comparison’s sake, I’ll take a moment here to outline Chicago’s best performers.

Eddie Butler +.947

Butler pitched seven innings of relief on March 30th, in that 17-inning game two Miami victory. He walked one and allowed four hits while striking out five batters. More importantly, he kept the Marlins scoreless.

Kris Bryant +.428

Bryant hit a double, walked, and scored twice in the season opener, Chicago’s 8-4 win. He was three-for-six with a walk, a double, and a homer in Chicago’s 10-6, 17-inning loss. Game three would see him collect three RBI with a single, a double, and a walk, and in today’s contest he hit a single and drew a walk. He finishes the series with a team-leading .389 average and a four-game hitting streak.

Steve Cishek +.299

Cishek pitched three combined scoreless innings. He struck out two and allowed a walk and a hit in 1 2/3 innings of the season opener. In yesterday’s game, he gave up a walk and struck out a batter in 1 1/3 innings. 28 of his 49 pitches were strikes.

Justin Wilson +.234

Wilson pitched in relief in each of the first two games, keeping the Marlins off the board both times. He got 31-of-55 pitches in the zone. He struck out one in a perfect eighth in the opener. In the 17-inning marathon, he whiffed two but allowed three baserunners in 1 2/3 innings (on a hit and two walks).

Ben Zobrist +.221

Zobrist was three-for-seven with a double in the Marlins 2-1, 17-inning win on Friday. On Saturday, he went 1-for-3 with two walks and an RBI. He closed the series with a pop-out pinch hit appearance in the ninth inning today.

Wholesale Milwaukee Brewers Jerseys

The Milwaukee Brewers are set to open their season on March 29 against the San Diego Padres.

It is also true that the team had the best 90 minutes of the offseason by acquiring Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. But the question remained, would the Milwaukee Brewers sign a big name pitcher? Spoiler alert, they didn’t.

Mark Attanasio, the Brewers owner, gave an explanation. It can be heard in this tweet.

He wants to be ready for the trade deadline. Some would think, why not go for it from the outset of the season? It is a fair thought, but I think this is the correct approach. Before selling the farm or paying for a multi-year deal, why not wait?
Benefits Of Waiting

The Milwaukee Brewers are in a place where they can win for several years. There is solid young talent at the major league level, such as Orlando Arcia, that will be only getting better. There are also some prospects who look very promising, such as Lucas Erceg and Corbin Burnes. So there is no reason to sell the farm right now.

If the team can compete for playoffs as is, then a deadline move for a pitcher will only make the team better. But on the flip side, if a pitcher was brought in only for the Brewers to be out of contention early, it would have been wasted efforts and money.

The greatest asset Milwaukee has right now is their ability to wait for the right move. They did not need to rush into a Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish deal. Because of the youth and control, they can be patient until a truly good move comes along.

So, who will be available at the deadline?

This is not an easy thing to predict, but it is not impossible. But, if the Milwaukee Brewers are in the place to buy there will be teams with pitchers to sell. That is the key to it all. The timing needs to work out more than anything.

Wholesale Minnesota Twins Jerseys

Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins have a trio of very athletic outfielders. All three are 26 and under. All three have good speed. All three came up as prospects of the Twins, each reaching into Top 100 rankings (Buxton near the top, Rosario and Kepler appearing briefly). All three hit in the minor leagues, and all three have had their moments in the big leagues already. Most important, all three still have the potential to be even better with just a few improvements.

Today, I want to highlight the three starting Twins outfielders by pointing to one statistic, one theme, or one area of improvement that could help them make the next step in their careers.

Kepler Versus Lefties

There is no question that Max Kepler has really struggled during his two seasons in the big leagues against left-handed pitching. Here are the numbers:

2016 (133 PA): .203/.273/.322 (.595) – .792 OPS vs RHP
2017 (137 PA): .152/.213/.240 (.453) – .828 OPS vs RHP

Kepler took a step backwards in 2017 against same-sided pitchers. Some may believe that there is enough of a sample size to suggest a strict platoon in right field. Others (this writer included) believe that because he will be just 25-years-old throughout the 2018 season, he needs to get more opportunities.

If you are looking for more reason for optimism, look back to 2015. After several years as a very raw prospect, Kepler had his breakout season in 2015 in which he was named the Twins Minor League Player of the Year. While he posted a .935 OPS against right-handers in AA, he also hit .319/.390/.473 (.863) against southpaws.

Of course, there is a difference between AA pitching and big league pitching, but that is enough to keep me optimistic for some success against left-handers. While we shouldn’t expect Kepler to increase his OPS vs LHP to the .800 level, if he could just get that number to the .650 range, it would be a dramatic improvement and help his overall numbers look just a little better.

That said, if he has another season with an OPS vs LHP near the .450 range, then the team will have to consider platoon options in right field for a playoff run and in the future.

Fast Start For Buxton

Byron Buxton is really fast. Unfortunately, his bat has started out very slow in each of his three seasons in the big leagues. He’s proven to be very valuable just because of his defense, but we’ve also seen just how much he can bring to the table when he is being a force with the bat and the glove. In my opinion, one of the biggest keys to a strong 2018 Twins season might just be the bat of the best defensive player in the game in April.

Here is a quick look at the stats of Byron Buxton in his first 15 games in each of his first three seasons:

2015 (61 PA): .207/.233/.276 (.507)
2016 (40 PA): .162/.205/.297 (.502)
2017 (52 PA): .082/.135/.122 (.287)

His start in 2017 was dreadful, but as we saw over the course of the season, he made several adjustments and by season’s end, he looked like a new hitter.

Consider that after really struggling those first 15 games in 2017, he hit .274/.335/.448 (.783) the rest of the year.

As Yogi Berra famously said, “Half of baseball is 90% mental.” Imagine the confidence that Buxton could gain by getting of to a fast start. It is the kind of thing that could thrust him into superstardom and MVP discussions.

Rosario Shows Zone Judgment

Eddie Rosario enjoyed a breakout season in 2017 when he hit .290/.328/.507 (.836) with 33 doubles and 27 home runs. There is little question what the biggest key was for Eddie Rosario. He didn’t swing at as many pitches outside the zone. According to FanGraphs, here are his Outside-the-Zone Swing Percentages during his three MLB seasons:

2015: 45.6%
2016: 41.7%
2017: 37.6%

In short, he has quit swinging at quite so many pitches outside of the strike zone. In theory, by making the pitcher throw a few more strikes, and with Rosario’s still-aggressive approach, he is hitting better pitches. Rosario has such quick hands, and he makes contact at such a high percentage. By swinging at less bad pitches, he is giving himself a better chance. If Rosario can continue the trend, he should continue to put up really strong numbers. As nice as the improvement was in 2017, check out where Rosario ranks among Twins regulars last year (and I included Logan Morrison just for fun).

Robbie Grossman 18.2%
Joe Mauer 20.5%
Jason Castro 21.7%
Brian Dozier 23.4%
Jorge Polanco 26.9%
Logan Morrison 27.7%
Max Kepler 28.5%
Miguel Sano 29.1%
Byron Buxton 31.1%
Eduardo Escobar 35.7%
Eddie Rosario 37.6%

In other words, there is much room for improvement. However, if he can put up his 2017 numbers while swinging at 37.6% of pitches outside the zone, imagine what type of numbers he might put up is he can get that number down to 32%, or even lower?

So there are three key numbers for three key contributors to a successful 2018 season for the Twins. “Nothing Falls But Raindrops” was the motto for the 2017 Twins outfielders. Each has good range at their outfield position, and each has a ton of potential remaining with their bats as well. The aforementioned statistics will be key for each of them.

Wholesale New York Mets Jerseys

New York Mets
New York Mets

PORT ST. LUCIE — The results were good, the timing and feel were better and the outlook was best of all for outfielder Michael Conforto, who came away hopeful of rejoining the Mets earlier than expected after playing in a simulated game Wednesday as part of his return from left shoulder surgery.

“I’m hoping,” Conforto said about beating the speculated May 1 return date. “That seems like far off to me, but we’ll see what happens. Like I keep saying, it’s day to day.”

But Wednesday was a good day for Conforto. Facing an assortment of minor leaguers — mostly lefties — he squeezed in 10 at-bats and had three hits, including two home runs, one that went into a stiff wind but still may have reached the Gulf of Mexico — if not Mexico itself.

“It definitely felt better. Felt like I was more on time. The swing felt a little more on plane and in rhythm,” said Conforto, who was injured last August and underwent surgery Sept. 6. “It’s good to feel the barrel a little bit. … Saw some good arms. Some decent stuff, some funky angles, so that was good. Lots of lefties, too.”

The abundance of lefties he saw was mere “coincidence,” according to manager Mickey Callaway.

“I think he got eight of his 10 at-bats against lefties,” Callaway said. “He’s going to have to face lefties early in the season, so it was a good day.”

Conforto, against last year’s first-round draft pick David Peterson, showed what he can bring with that monster homer.

“He’s in a really good spot. You saw the way the ball’s coming off his bat when he squares it up. I don’t know how far that one was, but that went a very long way,” Callaway said. “The bat speed’s there. He feels healthy, and it’s just a matter of time before we can get him in the game. He looks really good.”

There is still a question of stamina in the eyes of both player and manager. But his swing looks and feels good.

“I’m getting there. I’m pretty close. I’ve had a lot of good work,” said Conforto, who likely will play in Monday’s intrasquad game, but will not play in any of three remaining Grapefruit League games, according to Callaway. “I’m starting to feel my legs a little bit and I feel like I’m in rhythm with everything, so I’m getting close.”

Closer than May 1, he hopes. But there is still building up to do.

“It’s not so much about the shoulder anymore. It’s getting up, hitting, going out to the field, standing out there, go make some plays then come back and hit again,” Conforto said.

“He hadn’t even played the field past five, six innings,” Callaway said. “We’ve just got to get him out in the field, get him playing and build him up to nine innings.”

Wholesale New York Yankees Jerseys

LAKELAND, Fla. — Inside the Yankees’ organization, Tyler Wade had a chance to grab an Opening Day roster spot despite competing with stud prospect Gleyber Torres.

Early in camp, it was apparent Torres would need more time at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after Tommy John surgery on his left (non-throwing) elbow last June limited him to 55 total minor league games in 2017.

Then, on March 12, the Yankees signed switch-hitting infielder Neil Walker to a one-year deal for $4 million, and it appeared if Wade made the team, it would be as a utility infielder who could handle the corner outfield spots in an emergency.

After the Yankees dropped an 8-3 decision to the Tigers on Tuesday at Publix Field, Boone said Wade had earned a spot on the 25-man roster that opens the season March 29 in Toronto.

“Wade is on the team,’’ Boone said after watching the 23-year-old left-handed hitter triple in the first inning and double in the third.

Boone said Wade’s role won’t strictly be as a utility guy.

“We feel like we have good options every day. I feel like there is plenty of at-bats for those guys,’’ Boone said of Wade, who can play third, and Walker, who can play first. “I hope they continue to play well so we have good decisions every day.’’
Wade was gone before Boone announced his roster spot, but prior to that the fourth-round pick in the 2013 draft out of Murrieta Valley (Calif.) High School wasn’t declaring he had made the team.

“I am humble and try to stay in the moment,’’ said Wade, whose .310 batting average at SWB led all qualifiers a year ago. “I control what I can control and play my game.’’

Lined up to start the fourth game of the season on April 1 against the Blue Jays in Toronto, Sonny Gray took a major step toward being ready Tuesday.

Switched from facing the Tigers in Lakeland to the Yankees’ minor league complex in Tampa due to a forecast of heavy rain, Gray faced Double-A Trenton and was encouraged about the outing.

“I thought I threw the ball well,” Gray said. “That is clearly the best that I’ve felt thus far, execution-wise, breaking ball-wise.

“The big thing was throwing the breaking ball for strikes. That was something I’ve been working toward. Today was a good day with that as far as execution with the breaking ball and fastball, really everything. It was a really good workday. That was the big takeaway for me today was the amount of life I had on the ball.”

According to Boone, who watched Gray for about three innings, pitching coach Larry Rothschild was pleased.

“Larry had some hop in his step when he told me about it,’’ Boone said.

Gray should benefit from starting the season with the Yankees instead of joining them in late July, as he did last year when he went 4-7 with a 3.72 ERA in 11 starts after being acquired from the A’s. In two postseason games, Gray was bad (three hits, three runs and four walks in 3 ¹/₃ innings ) against the Indians in the ALDS and good (one earned run in five innings) versus the Astros in the ALCS.


Jacoby Ellsbury took batting practice at GMS Field on Tuesday. Now the next step in his recovery from an oblique injury is getting into a game.

“If he can have a couple of good days we will have him go to Fort Myers [on Thursday] and get a couple of at-bats down there,’’ Boone said before Ellsbury worked out.

Ellsbury hasn’t played in a game since March 1 and was hit by a flu bug over the weekend that forced him to stay away from camp Monday.

While there is an outside chance Ellsbury could be on the Opening Day roster, that isn’t likely to happen, according to Boone.

During his interview for the managing job the Yankees’ brass didn’t use names of players in an exercise to see how Boone would put a lineup together.

There were questions back and forth but one thing remained clear: He was going to fill out the lineup card.

“It’s clear that it’s my call,’’ Boone said.

The Yankees received back right-hander Anyelo Gómez, who had been a Rule 5 Draft pick, from the Braves. He was assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The end of Tuesday’s game arriving: A heavy rain storm in the middle was followed by a downpour in the ninth inning of a game in which the Yankees’ second-line pitching was hammered for eight runs and 14 hits.

Of the seven Yankees hurlers who worked Tuesday at Publix Field, Ben Heller was the only one with a chance to make the big-league roster at the start of camp. It wasn’t much of a chance, but he was mentioned Monday by Aaron Boone as a bullpen candidate if the Yankees take 13 pitchers. That chance got smaller when the right-hander gave up three runs and three hits in 1 ²/₃ innings.

Greg Bird’s potential with the bat dominates most of the talk about the first baseman, but Tuesday he turned a hard-hit ground ball by Victor Martinez into a 3-6-1 double play with a nifty grab.

Luis Cessa will start Wednesday for the Yankees against the Orioles in a night game at GMS Field.

Wholesale Oakland Athletics Jerseys

The Oakland Athletics starting rotation took a big hit with the injury to Jharel Cotton

The Oakland Athletics are a sexy sleeper pick for this year sneaking up on teams. They have a talented core of young players like Matt Chapman and Matt Olson, plus prospects on the way. The one thing that is holding them back is starting rotation depth, and that depth took a hit as Jharel Cotton‘s 2018 is now in doubt after being diagnosed with a sprained UCL in his elbow and a strained flexor tendon.

Their starting rotation now looks like this:

Kendall Graveman
Sean Manaea
Daniel Mengden
Paul Blackburn
Andrew Triggs/Daniel Gossett

That’s a whole ton of question marks.

Granted, there was a ton of question marks coming in with Cotton. After a nice cup of coffee in 2016, Cotton struggled to a 9-10 record with a 5.58 ERA last season.

Cotton looked like he may have been turning a corner this spring, posting a 3.75 ERA in 12 spring innings, with 16 strikeouts.

Alex Cobb is still sitting in free agency. If he was willing to take a Lance Lynn type deal, should the Oakland Athletics bite? He would be an upgrade over Cotton and provide a veteran anchor in what is a very young rotation, though would the A’s want to give up a draft pick and international money.

Oakland has more pitching coming with guys like A.J. Puk, Jesus Luzardo, Grant Holmes and James Kaprielian. Puk has yet to give up a run in spring training going into yesterday’s action.

The Oakland Athletics have assembled a pretty deep bullpen, though it’s not filled with names like the New York Yankees bullpen. Guys like Blake Treinen, Santiago Casilla and newcomers like Ryan Buchter and Yusmeiro Petit make up a solid, if not unspectacular group, which will be relied upon even further with the injury to Cotton.

Cotton’s injury will test the Oakland Athletics rotation depth. If guys like Triggs, Gossett, and possibly Puk down the line this year step up, Oakland can be that sleeper team. Can one or two of them take the bull by the horns for this spot?

Wholesale Philadelphia Phillies Jerseys

The Philadelphia Phillies and free-agent right-hander Jake Arrieta have agreed to a three-year, $75 million contract, according to multiple reports.

Arrieta can opt out of the deal after two seasons, but the Phillies can void that opt-out clause if they first trigger a two-year extension to make the pact a five-year deal, according to FanRag Sports.

That two-year extension would start at $20 million per season but could be worth up to $30 million based on the number of starts Arrieta makes in the first two seasons of the deal and Cy Young Award finishes in those seasons, FanRag Sports reported.

The news of the agreement was first reported by NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Arrieta is the second major free agent added by the Phillies this offseason. The team signed first baseman Carlos Santana to a three-year, $60 million contract in December.

Arrieta, 32, had a strong second half of 2017 leading into free agency, as he compiled a 2.28 post-All-Star break ERA. That kind of production was reminiscent of his historic second half in 2015, when his ERA was a minuscule 0.75. That helped garner him a Cy Young award and a reputation as a big-game pitcher who gets better as the season progresses.

Arrieta’s career 3.08 postseason ERA is also a good indicator of his big-game potential, as he has a wild-card win and Game 6 World Series victory on his résumé. He has been durable and effective since he was traded to the Cubs in 2013, though sometimes it takes time for his unique, cross-body delivery to lock in.

Arrieta has also produced two no-hitters and a career .222 batting average against him. Considering his delivery, some in baseball have wondered about his durability, but he has made at least 30 starts each of the past three seasons, helping the Cubs to the playoffs in each of them. His incredible training regimen is well-documented, keeping him in tip-top shape, especially for a pitcher.