Pitchers and catchers report in less than three weeks and the first Grapefruit League game is four weeks from tomorrow. One month until glorious, glorious baseball. Here are some miscellaneous links and notes to check out in the meantime.
Gregorius begins baseball activities
Didi Gregorius has started limited baseball activities as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. He is taking one-handed swings and fielding grounders without throwing. It’s not much, I know, but he has to start somewhere. Gregorius is progressing well enough that he’s getting his swing in order and having batted balls hit at him. That’s not nothing. Soon he’ll get his rebuilt elbow involved.
Sir Didi had his Tommy John surgery on October 17th. Position players typically have a shorter recovery time than pitchers and everyone involved says Gregorius will play this season. We just don’t know when, exactly. Brian Cashman has indicated the Yankees will let Gregorius complete his rehab before bringing him back. They’re not going to cut corners and let him DH a la Shohei Ohtani. Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu give the Yankees some insurance here, but the sooner Didi returns, the better.
Rivera to take on expanded role with Yankees?
During a recent radio interview, new Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera revealed he will be “teaching pitching” with the Yankees in some capacity. “I’m going to start working with the New York Yankees and teaching pitching. So many guys throw hard but don’t have command. We need to teach these boys to pitch. Pitchers are getting away from pitching and are focused on throwing hard,” Rivera said.
For what it’s worth, the Yankees have not formally announced a role for Rivera, and Andy Martino says the two sides have not yet discussed an expanded role in the organization. Mariano serves as a guest instructor in Spring Training each year and that’s pretty much it, as far as we know. I’m certain the Yankees will happily bring Rivera aboard in an expanded role, and it sounds like Rivera is ready to do it. Right now, there is no formal arrangement in place. I’m guessing there will be one soon.
MLB looking to change disabled list, option time
According to Ron Blum, MLB has proposed changes to the disabled list and optional assignments that would make it more difficult for teams to manipulate their roster. Specifically, the league wants to go back to a 15-day DL, and they want players to spend at least 15 days in the minors before they are eligible to be recalled. Right now they have to wait ten days (unless there’s an injury). The MLBPA has not yet agreed to the proposal and it’s unclear if they will.
Disabled list trips have increased more than 30% since the league switched from a 15-day DL to a 10-day DL. Some of that is due to legitimate injuries and some of it is due to teams manipulating their roster. Specifically, clubs will put a starter on the 10-day DL to essentially skip a start for extra rest without playing shorthanded. Also, having to wait 15 days to recall a player rather than ten will throw a wrench into bullpen shuttles and the opener strategy to some degree, since many multi-inning relievers are send down immediately after being used. Adding the extra five days to the disabled list and optional assignments could have a big impact.
Leiter leaving YES Network
Al Leiter will not return to the YES Network broadcast booth this season, reports Andrew Marchand. He’s leaving to spend more time with his family. “I’m grateful for my 12 years. It was a family. I know it sounds like BS, but it is true. It is hard to leave. It is more about being able to see (my son and three daughters) doing their things,” Leiter said. Marchand says YES will not hire a new analyst to replace Leiter. They’ll give his games to others already on staff.
Leiter’s son Jack is a high school senior and a top 2019 draft prospect. MLB.com currently ranks him as the 20th best prospect in the draft class and says he has a “solid four-pitch mix and knows what to do with all of his offerings.” I imagine Al wants to be around for what will be a very important year for Jack. Marchand says the decision was a surprise — Leiter was scheduled to increase his YES workload this year — but it’s understandable. I enjoy Leiter in the booth. I’ll miss him.