The starting rotation for the San Francisco Giants could be the largest area of concern heading into the 2018 season.
Last year, San Francisco Giants co-aces, Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, both missed significant amounts of time due to injury. Although Bumgarner looked mostly like his usual self after his return from injury, there will be far more question marks surrounding Cueto who’s coming off one of his worst seasons in years in addition to the injuries.
Another interesting story-line is who will secure the 5th spot in the rotation. Bumgarner, Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Chris Stratton are all nearly locks, but there will be some young, inexperienced arms as well as a few wily veterans vying for the 5-spot.
First off, let’s go over who all of the Giants’ starting pitchers are heading into Spring Training.
40 Man Roster:
Matt Cain‘s retirement coupled with trading Matt Moore away forced the Giants into accepting a shaky rotation while instead focusing on bolstering the lineup and bullpen. Some may have thought the Giants would try to upgrade the rotation this off-season but other pressing needs (i.e. the rest of the roster) as well as the luxury tax threshold which they have maneuvered and connived to stay under got in the way of that.
Despite the question marks surrounding the rotation, it’s worth remembering that the Giants have six pitchers reporting to camp who have all proven to at times be serviceable MLB starters. The main question is: will serviceable be good enough?
Let’s start with the guys who we expect to be pretty solid next year.vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv
MESA, Ariz. — Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez left Monday’s spring game against the Chicago Cubs in the top of the second inning after being struck by a line drive.
Hernandez, 31, immediately grabbed his right forearm after getting hit by the line drive off the bat of Cubs catcher Victor Caratini. Trainers came out to attend to Hernandez, and he was taken to the Mariners’ facility for X-rays, which came back negative. He will be reevaluated Tuesday and is listed as day-to-day.
Hernandez missed considerable time last season with shoulder issues and struggled to a 4.12 ERA while compiling just 118 innings.
Last May, a line drive off the bat of Caratini struck Cardinals pitcher Daniel Poncedeleon in the head during a Triple-A game. Poncedeleon required emergency surgery to alleviate pressure on his brain, followed by a couple of weeks in intensive care in Des Moines, Iowa, and then three months of inactivity at home in Florida.
Poncedeleon returned to the mound Sunday, pitching two innings of three-hit, one-run ball for the Cardinals against the Houston Astros.
JUPITER, Fla. • Chris Carpenter has one of the lengthier titles in baseball. It is special assistant to the president of baseball operations for the Cardinals. “He just does whatever he wants,” joked that president, John Mozeliak.
But those who know the Cardinals Hall of Fame member or know of him can figure it won’t take long for Carpenter to make a point. And it hasn’t in his first three days in spring camp.
Carpenter, long known for his intensity besides his ability, said Wednesday, “So far, my passions still come out and I think that’s part of it. I don’t want to dial it down. I want to be me. I’m going to be me.
“You might not like it all the time. And it’s not always the right answer. But if you’re going to come to me, I’m going to be honest and give you my opinions and hopefully it helps one, two, 17 people, whatever. I just want to make this organization better, somehow, just the way they helped me. I want to make this organization continue on with where we were when I played.”
Manager Mike Matheny, Carpenter’s former catcher in Toronto and St. Louis, said, “Already it’s obvious he’s got a gift for this. There’s no question about it. There’s a kind of firmness in everything he does.”
But Carpenter, while confident in his opinions, is approaching the task gingerly.
“Right now, I’m just asking questions and listening,” he said. “I’m speaking a little, which is why you have two eyes, two ears and one mouth. You watch and listen twice as much as you speak. That’s the way I’ve always been. But when I speak, I’ve got something to say and I think it’s going to be important.” ‘
Carpenter retired after the 2013 season, when, because of injury, he actually never pitched in the majors. The Cardinals had hoped the star righthander could join them in some capacity and, for a while he did, but he had some family issues and didn’t want to be away from his son and daughter. So he backed off.
“They reached out to me and kept the door open every year,” Carpenter said. “The timing is right. It’s neat to be back in it. It feels good to be around the game that I love and talk about the game that I love. I couldn’t be any more comfortable right now.”
Carpenter can’t be his intense self every minute of the day, and he knows that.
“There’s a line to make sure you’re graceful and kind in some areas when you recognize that’s what they need,” he said. “But also give them the honest truth, too. Sometimes the honest truth is good. Sometimes it’s not. I’m not doing my job and I’m not making you any better or them any better if I don’t give it to you.
“You might not like it sometime. But that’s OK. That’s your problem,” Carpenter said, laughing.
Matheny said, “You can tell he truly wants to teach you something. That’s what is special for any of the guys we bring in, whether they’re Hall of Famers or not. They have a passion for how their life was impacted and their career was impacted by being here.
“He’s got a gift of that intensity he showed on the mound. He brings that when he talks and when he teaches. But he has that same kind of thread that Willie (McGee) has, as far as caring. He’s not trying to build himself up. He doesn’t want people seeing him everywhere. It’s not about him.”
On Tuesday, Carpenter stopped by where infielders were taking balls while working with Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith and put on a glove to shag throws. Then Carpenter felt compelled to make a point and Matheny said, “(Carpenter) didn’t even know it but it dove-tailed into what Ozzie had just got through saying. We talk about character a lot around here and it’s not a bunch of guys holding hands and singing songs. There was the consistency and preparation that Ozzie was talking about and then Carp (talking) about what it looks like to be a hard-nosed guy that does show up every day and doesn’t take a play off.
“When you hear us talk about that stuff and then you hear it from guys with their background, it should be written in stone in those (players’) minds for the rest of their life.
“You want to tell these guys, ‘Go over in your mind while you’re laying in bed tonight what was just told you because what you just got has so much more value than what you’re giving it. Go chew on that.’”
On Wednesday, Carpenter visited Yadier Molina and the catchers to gain some knowledge and even challenged an outfielder or two on a hot, sunny day.
“I want to learn why we do things,” said Carpenter, just a couple of days removed from needing a snowmobile to clean off his driveway in New Hampshire. “I want to see how everything works.
“That’s more a part of your role as a coach compared to a player. Not that it should be, but I have more time, for instance, to pay attention to why we straddle the bag instead of catching the ball in front of the bag as a shortstop.
“I’ve seen things happen in a game but not know why.”
Carpenter will make two more trips to Jupiter this spring and then travel to Class AA Springfield, Class AAA Memphis and St. Louis as needed during the season and when his schedule permits.
“(Mozeliak) is going to tell me where to go. I’m going to give him the dates I’m available,” Carpenter said. “It’s going to be a relationship-building year. When these young guys trust to come to talk to me and ask me questions, I’m going to do everything I can to make whatever they’re doing easier and better. On the field, off the field, anything they have going on.”
This spring, Carpenter said he would try to stay involved “in everything. I don’t want to say it’s trial and error but this is a trial period to see (1) how it’s working, (2) what improvements we can make and (3) it’s gaining me experience in learning how the other side works.
“I’m not in that side of the locker room anymore. There’s other aspects to it. Answering to people and making sure I’m not stepping on toes. I’m not here to take anybody’s job.”
Carpenter, 42, is not ruling out a more full-time role.
“This is an avenue for me to start,” he said. “Mo has given me the ability to come up with a certain amount of days a month. I’m committed 100 percent to travel and I’m committed 100 percent to what’s going on. And he’s given me time to still be committed to my son (15) and daughter (12) when I need to be there.
“As it moves forward and the more structured they are, the further they’re not going to want to be around me anyway and the more time I’ll be able to commit. This is a great stepping stone — to pick Mo’s brain, to pick (Michael) Girsch’s brain, to pick Mike’s brain and all the coaches,” Carpenter said.
“Right now, there’s still some guys in (the clubhouse) that I played (with) that understand what I brought. There’s still some coaches that I played for that understand. So, I’m not too far away. But the game has changed a lot and I’ve got to a lot to learn.
“There’s just as much learning for me as there is teaching.”
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays released the promotional schedule for the 2018 season Thursday, which features 30 unique collectibles, with many tied to the team’s 20th anniversary celebration throughout the 2018 season. All fans (while supplies last) will receive a Rays Schedule Magnet and a 20th Anniversary Cowbell, both presented by Tropicana, on Opening Day, Thursday, March 29 vs. the Red Sox. The Rays 2018 season is presented by Tampa General Hospital.
Saturday promotional items this year are available to all fans, and include a 1998 Replica Seat Cushion (March 31 vs. Red Sox) presented by GTE Financial; Carl Crawford Bobblehead (April 14 vs. Phillies) presented by DEX Imaging; Car Sun Shade (April 21 vs. Twins) presented by Florida Department of Transportation; Tropical Shirt (May 5 vs. Blue Jays) presented by Hooters; Kevin Kiermaier STAR WARS Pop Vinyl (May 26 vs. Orioles) presented by Tech Data; Fred McGriff & Tino Martinez Bobblehead (June 9 vs. Mariners) presented by Suncoast Credit Union; Rays & Devil Rays Reversible Jersey (June 23 vs. Yankees) presented by Suncoast Credit Union; Hugging Steven Souza Jr. (June 30 vs. Astros) presented by FOX Sports Sun; DJ Kitty Mascot Head (July 21 vs. Marlins); Akinori Iwamura Bobblehead (August 4 vs. White Sox); Wade Boggs Bobblehead (August 25 vs. Red Sox); 20th Anniversary Photo Viewer (September 8 vs. Orioles) presented by Sagicor Life Insurance Company; Tote Bag (September 15 vs. Athletics) presented by MLB Network; and Dan Johnson Bobblehead (September 29 vs. Blue Jays) presented by Moffitt Cancer Center. Promotional items are available while supplies last.
Sundays will once again be Family Fun Days, courtesy of Tampa General Hospital. Every Sunday home game will feature free parking for cars with four or more passengers and a variety of postgame activities for kids, including Kids Run the Bases and a DJ Kitty Dance Party featuring mascots and entertainers. For the fifth consecutive season, concourse activities will be complimentary for kids 14 years and under. Activities include Power Alley Batting Cage, Speed Pitch, Virtual Reality Homerun Derby, Raymond’s Treehouse, Topps Make Your Own Baseball Card and the Grand Slam Alley, courtesy of GameTime. Extra entertainers will also perform on Sundays, including face painters, stilt walkers, jugglers and balloon artists. In addition, every Sunday home game, two Rays players will sign autographs for kids 14 years and under along the right field stands from 12:00–12:30 p.m.
Sunday promotional items are for kids 14 and under, while supplies last, and include a Commemorative Baseball (April 1 vs. Red Sox) presented by Tampa Bay Times; Steven Souza Jr. Wristband (April 15 vs. Phillies) presented by Tampa General Hospital; Mascot Socks (April 22 vs. Twins) presented by GEICO; Baseball Toss Game (May 6 vs. Blue Jays) presented by Morgan Auto Group; Raymond Children’s Book (May 27 vs. Orioles); Boogie Board (June 10 vs. Mariners) presented by Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital; Chris Archer Snapback Hat (June 24 vs. Yankees); Wearable Rays Up Flag (July 1 vs. Astros) presented by Tampa General Hospital Children’s Medical Center; Beach Tank Top (July 22 vs. Marlins) presented by Tradewinds Island Resorts; Kevin Kiermaier Lunch Box (August 5 vs. White Sox); DJ Kitty Slippers (August 26 vs. Red Sox); Snack N’ Drink Cup (September 9 vs. Orioles); Toy Truck (September 16 vs. Athletics) presented by W.B. Mason; and PopSockets (September 30 vs. Blue Jays).
Rays Flex Packs are currently available for purchase. Flex Packs include five lower level tickets for $98 per pack, a Rays 20th Anniversary Pint Glass Set, presented by DEX Imaging (while supplies last), and the opportunity to redeem tickets next week prior to single-game tickets going on sale to the public. For more information, visit raysbaseball.com/flex or call 888-FAN-RAYS.
The complete promotional schedule can be found on the following page or at raysbaseball.com/promotions.
The Texas Rangers continued adding proven major-leaguers to minor-league deals ahead of spring training, agreeing Monday to a deal with infielder Darwin Barney and inviting him to big-league camp.
The Barney signing comes a day after the Rangers and veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon agreed to a similar deal, and Barney is the 24th non-roster invitee to spring training.
Barney won the Gold Glove at second base in 2012 while with the Chicago Cubs on the strength of a .997 fielding percentage and 141 consecutive games without an error.
Primarily a second baseman, Barney has logged 83 career games at third base and 57 at shortstop, and has done so as a starter. Barney made 95 starts last season for the Toronto Blue Jays.
His glove is what keeps him in the major leagues. Barney has a career average of .246 with only 31 homers in 2,536 at-bats over eight seasons.
Barney joins a group of utility infielders that includes Jurickson Profar, Drew Robinson, Hanser Alberto and Christian Lopes. Profar is out of minor-league options and is almost certain to make the Opening Day roster.
Watch the Rangers’ Super Bowl commercial
In case you missed it just before Justin Timberlake took the stage at halftime of the Super Bowl, here’s the Texas Rangers’ commercial in full (courtesy of the Texas Rangers).
Rangers’ Gallo describes ride in self-driving car
Texas Rangers slugger Joey Gallo recently spent time in his hometown of Las Vegas taking a ride in a self-driving car. Yikes (video by Jeff Wilson).