Yankees’ strongest Opening Day bullpen includes Jacob Lindgren

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

At some point in the next ten days or so, Joe Girardi and his staff are going to finalize their pitching staff by selecting a fifth starter and the last two relievers. They might also pick a closer but that’s not the most important thing in the world since they have multiple candidates for the job. Adam Warren is the heavy favorite to be the fifth starter yet there hasn’t been any hint as to who might be selected to fill out the bullpen.

The Yankees have plenty of relievers in camp, both 40-man roster and non-40-man roster players, and they’ve already eliminated some players from the bullpen competition by sending them down to minor league camp. Jose Ramirez, Branden Pinder, Jose DePaula, and Danny Burawa were among the bullpen candidates sent down already. Jared Burton is hurt (lat strain) and out of the running as well. Here’s how the remaining bullpen candidates have performed this spring:

  • RHP Andrew Bailey: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K in only two games as he works his way back from major shoulder surgery.
  • RHP Scott Baker: 8.1 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K in three games.
  • RHP Kyle Davies: 7 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 2 K in five games.
  • LHP Jacob Lindgren: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K in seven games.
  • RHP Chris Martin: 6.1 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 8 K in seven games.
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 7.1 IP, 12 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 6 K in three games.
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 12 K in six games.
  • LHP Chasen Shreve: 8 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 10 K in eight games.
  • RHP Chase Whitley: 10 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K in four games.

The Yankees have taken a long look at Shreve this spring and have been using him against right-handed hitters to see if he can get them out — 26 of the 37 batters he’s faced during Grapefruit League play have been righties. Seven of the 26 have reached base. Shreve’s last few outings have been rough though, and while making a roster decision based on Spring Training performance is sorta foolish, teams still do it and Shreve potentially pitched his way to Triple-A.

Davies was never a serious MLB roster candidate and the Yankees have indicated they would like Mitchell to open the year in Triple-A to continue working on things, specifically his command. Same with Rumbelow. Bailey has a lot of rust to shake off and not much Spring Training time left to shake it off. Martin started out well — Girardi mentioned him by name a week or two ago when asked who had impressed him — but he’s allowed at least one hit in each Grapefruit League outing and always seems to be in trouble.

That leaves three bullpen candidates: Baker, Lindgren, and Whitley. Whitley has been fantastic in camp with the caveat that Baseball Reference’s opponent quality stat says he’s been facing Triple-A caliber hitters. Still, when you toss up that many zeros in camp, people notice. And the fact Whitley was in the big leagues last year helps his case.  Baker got destroyed in his first spring outing (three runs on six hits in one inning) but has been excellent since. He’s been facing better than Triple-A caliber competition. The Yankees are likely to use one of last two bullpen spots on a long man (maybe two!) and right now I think we have to say Whitley has a leg up on Baker.

The last remaining name is the most interesting one. Lindgren has dominated in camp — his 19 outs are broken into nine strikeouts, eight ground outs, and two fly outs — yet he’s faced Double-A caliber competition. Lindgren manhandled Single-A and Double-A hitters during his pro debut last summer and it’s no surprise he’s doing it again this spring. His slider is lethal. He’s basically Andrew Miller minus about nine inches of height. The dominant showing this month has only reinforced what many felt coming into Spring Training: Lindgren is one of the seven best relievers in the organization right now.

The Yankees drafted Lindgren, who was a reliever at Mississippi State, with their top pick (55th overall) last year because they expected him to get to MLB in a hurry. There was talk they were going to call him up last year until they decided 79.2 high leverage innings were enough. Teams don’t draft college relievers in the first or second round only to leave them in the minors for two or three years. They pick them high because they can get to the big leagues quickly, and by all accounts Lindgren is as MLB ready as a one-inning reliever can be.

There are no roster space issues — the Yankees have 39 players on the 40-man roster right now and can clear another spot by placing Ivan Nova on the 60-day DL and potentially another when Austin Romine is moved — and manipulating service time with a reliever shouldn’t be a high priority. And let’s be real here, there’s also a “there are only so many bullets in that arm” factor too. Lindgren is a slider heavy reliever and may eventually blow out his arm because that’s what slider heavy relievers do. The Yankees should want to get as much as possible out of him before that happens.

At this point in time, I think the best Opening Day roster is one with Lindgren in the bullpen, even if he’s only working low-leverage middle innings at first to gain experience. This isn’t based on his spring performance either, I felt he could get MLB hitters out last summer. The Yankees have the luxury of a great bullpen, allowing Girardi to break Lindgren in slowly, like he did with Dellin Betances early last year and David Robertson years ago. And if Lindgren doesn’t perform well, so be it, they can send him down. That’s part of the development process. Robertson went up and down a whole bunch of times early in his career too.

No bullpen candidate other than Whitley has really stood out in Spring Training, making Lindgren impossible to ignore. If the Yankees had a bunch of guys performing great in camp, this would be a much more difficult decision. That is not the case though. Lindgren was basically MLB ready at the time of the draft last year and he’s done nothing to dispute that since turning pro. He’s one of the seven best relievers in the organization, so if the Yankees want to field the strongest possible bullpen heading into the season, Lindgren belongs on the Opening Day roster.

Spring Training Game Thread: Esmil’s Last Chance, Maybe

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The fifth starter competition continues tonight as Esmil Rogers gets what might be his last chance to convince the Yankees he deserves the job. Joe Girardi said yesterday he hopes to pick a fifth starter by the end of the week, and with Adam Warren lined up to pitch Thursday, Rogers is going to have to pitch well to force the issue. Of course, it seems like the job has been Warren’s all along, so maybe tonight doesn’t really matter.

Tonight’s reason to watch: The team’s three most interesting big league relievers (in my opinion) are scheduled to pitch after Rogers. That is Justin Wilson, Andrew Miller, and Dellin Betances. Betances’ last two outings were a little shaky, so let’s see if he’s gotten over whatever was troubling him. Dellin is scheduled to pitch tonight and tomorrow as he works back-to-back days for the first time in camp.

The Tigers made the short trip down from Lakeland to Tampa for tonight’s game. Here is their starting lineup and here is Girardi’s starting lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. DH Alex Rodriguez
  7. 2B Stephen Drew
  8. LF Chris Young
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    RHP Esmil Rogers

Available Position Players: C John Ryan Murphy, 1B Francisco Arcia, 2B Ali Castillo, SS Nick Noonan, 3B Jonathan Galvez, LF Ramon Flores, CF Slade Heathcott, RF Aaron Judge, and DH Kyle Higashioka will be the second string off the bench. C Eddy Rodriguez, IF Cole Figueroa, and 2B Rob Refsnyder are the extra players on the bench.

Available Pitchers: LHP Justin Wilson, LHP Andrew Miller, RHP Dellin Betances, and RHP Nick Rumbelow are all scheduled to pitch. RHP Diego Moreno, LHP James Pazos, and RHP Chris Smith are the extra arms.

It’s cool and clear in Tampa tonight. Temperatures in the low-to-mid-70s and not a cloud in the sky. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin a little after 7pm ET and you can watch live on YES locally and both MLB Network and MLB.tv nationally. MLB Network will be blacked out in the Yankees’ home market but MLB.tv will not. Enjoy the game.

March 24th Camp Notes: Rotation, Eovaldi, Ellsbury, Pirela

The Yankees are playing the Tigers at home later tonight, so the regular game thread will be along a little closer to game time. For now, make sure you check out the above video of the Yankees recreating a scene from the Sandlot. Brian McCann steals the show, but man, they really dropped the ball by not having Alex Rodriguez play Smalls. Anyway, here are the day’s notes from Spring Training:

  • The upcoming rotation: Masahiro Tanaka (Wednesday), Adam Warren (Thursday), Michael Pineda (Friday), CC Sabathia (Saturday), Nathan Eovaldi (Sunday). Unless the team does something silly like start him on short rest, that schedule rules Sabathia out for Opening Day. It’ll be Tanaka, like I figured. [Erik Boland]
  • Eovaldi threw 75 pitches across 4.2 innings in a minor league game this afternoon, and everything went well. “I felt good overall. I was just excited to get out there,” he said. Sabathia, Warren, and Ivan Nova all threw bullpen sessions. [Brendan Kuty]
  • Jacoby Ellsbury (oblique) is “progressing great” and ran some sprints today. Joe Girardi said as long as Ellsbury is playing in games one week from today, he’ll be ready for Opening Day. Jose Pirela (concussion) is feeling better but there’s still no timetable for his return. [Bryan Hoch, Ryan Hatch, Marly Rivera]
  • A-Rod put some time in at first base today, working specifically on cutoffs and relay plays. Mark Teixeira gave him a crash course on positioning. [Sweeny Murti]

Site Note: Our Jay Gordon is participating in Walk MS to help raise money for research to fight multiple sclerosis and programs benefiting those dealing with MS. You can make a donation right here. Thanks in advance.

Report: Dodgers agree to six-year deal with Hector Olivera

(Kevork Djansezian/Getty)
(Kevork Djansezian/Getty)

According to Jesse Sanchez, the Dodgers have agreed to sign Cuban infielder Hector Olivera to a six-year contract worth $62.5M. The deal includes a $28M signing bonus and is pending a physical, which is not insignificant. There are concerns about Olivera’s elbow ligament and he may need Tommy John surgery.

The Yankees scouted Olivera like everyone, and while we heard they had “strong interest” back in January, it had been quiet since. The Dodgers and Padres were considered Olivera’s most serious suitors with the Braves and Marlins also in on the bidding. Here’s a quick scouting report from Ben Badler:

At around 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Olivera is a physical righthanded hitter with a loose, quick swing and a good hitting approach. He showed good power for a middle infielder, and given that several Cuban players have transformed their bodies and increased their power since leaving the island, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Olivera did the same. His size, athleticism and plus speed (at least at his peak) made him one of the most well-rounded players in Cuba.

Olivera, who turns 30 next month, missed the entire 2012-13 season in Cuba with a blood disorder and hasn’t participated in many international tournaments since then. Although he has participated in showcase events in recent weeks, scouts haven’t been able to see much of Olivera in game action the last few years.

I’m not surprised the Yankees passed on Olivera and not because they are seemingly terrified of pricy Cuban players. A six-year contract for a 30-year-old is the kind of contract they avoided all winter. Add in that Olivera might have a bad elbow, Chase Headley just re-signed for four years, and Rob Refsnyder is knocking on the door at second base, and Olivera wasn’t a great fit for the Yankees and vice versa.

The Two Fifth Starter Candidates with Different Bullpen Roles [2015 Season Preview]

It’s no secret the Yankees are heading into the regular season with some significant health concerns in the rotation. Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and Michael Pineda have all made it through Spring Training just fine up to this point, though that could change in an instant, either now in March or at some point during the season. On top of that, Chris Capuano will be out several weeks with a quad strain. One of the starters who wasn’t supposed to get hurt got hurt.

Capuano’s injury has forced the Yankees to hold a fifth starter competition in camp. While guys like Bryan Mitchell, Chase Whitley, and Scott Baker are being stretched out and throwing multiple innings per appearance during Grapefruit League play, the fifth starter competition is basically a two-horse race between Adam Warren and Esmil Rogers. Those two were supposed to compete for the sixth starter’s job — the Yankees have indicated they want to use a strategic sixth starter on occasion this year to rest the other starters — but now they’re fighting for the fifth spot.

Either way, starter or reliever, Warren and Rogers are locks to make the Opening Day roster. Their roles as relievers would be very different, however. Let’s preview New York’s two sixth-turned-fifth starter candidates.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Warren In The Rotation: Uncharted Territory

All signs point to Warren being the favorite for the fifth starter’s job right now. He’s performed better than Rogers during Grapefruit League play and it seems like the Yankees want him to be the fifth starter, at least until Capuano gets healthy. They haven’t come out and said that, but we can read between the lines. Warren appears to be the heavy favorite.

Warren is about to enter his third full season with the Yankees, though his track record as a big league starter is very short. He’s made three career starts in pinstripes:

  1. June 29th, 2012: Six runs on eight hits and two walks in 2.1 innings against the White Sox. Warren’s big league debut was ugly.
  2. August 21st, 2013: Two runs on four hits and two walks in three innings against the Blue Jays. He was on a strict pitch count (60 pitches) during the spot start.
  3. September 27th, 2013: Two hits in five scoreless innings against the Astros in Game 160. Both teams had been eliminated from the postseason and Houston’s players checked out for the season in, like, June.

That doesn’t tell us a whole lot about what Warren can do as a starter in 2015. It doesn’t tell us anything, really. Warren was a starter all throughout college and in the minor leagues, though he gained experience and presumably confidence while working in the bullpen these last two years. He’s a different pitcher now, and while I think that increases Warren’s chances of success as a starter, it doesn’t guarantee it.

One thing we do know about Warren is his repertoire and pitch selection. Even as a reliever the last two seasons he regularly used five pitches, so he has the arsenal to start. Here are his pitch usage percentages since breaking into MLB (via Brooks Baseball):

Adam Warren pitch selection

Ignore 2012. That is only one game worth of data. As a long reliever in 2013, Warren used all five pitches at least 10% of the time and four of his five pitches at least 18% of the time. He used everything. In a short relief role last year, he scaled back on his sinker and curveball and stuck mostly with his four-seamer and slider. Warren emphasized his two best pitches in last season’s short reliever role like most short relievers.

As a starter I would expect Warren to scale up the usage of his sinker and curve, though that experience factor I discussed earlier could come into play here. Warren may feel the sinker isn’t worth the trouble — it had a below average 42.5% ground ball rate from 2012-13 (MLB average for a sinker is 49.5%) — and stick with his four-seamer as his main fastball, making him a four-pitch pitcher. That’s not automatically a bad thing! The sinker has been his least effective pitch as a big leaguer, so pushing that aside in favor of his better pitches may equal a more effective Warren overall.

We’re basically just guessing here. Warren has no meaningful track record as a starter in MLB and it’s close to impossible to know what he can do taking a regular turn in the rotation. We do know he’s a big league caliber pitcher though, at least in relief, and he has a deep enough repertoire to turn a lineup over two or three times even without the sinker. The question is whether Warren can be effective while pacing himself as a starter rather than airing it out as a reliever.

Warren In The Bullpen: Setup Reliever

Should the unexpected happen and Warren start the season in the bullpen, he figures to move right back into the role he held last year, that late-inning setup guy. He’d probably be Joe Girardi‘s number two righty behind Dellin Betances since David Carpenter hasn’t yet had the opportunity to enter the Circle of Trust™. There’s even an off chance Warren could close — Girardi has mentioned that as a possibility this spring.

Warren was outstanding last year, throwing 78.2 innings with a 2.97 ERA (2.89 FIP) and good to great strikeout (8.69 K/9 and 23.5 K%), walk (2.75 BB/9 and 7.4 BB%), and ground ball (45.4%) rates. His velocity also ticked up noticeably, averaging 95.2 mph in short relief in 2014 after averaging 93.9 mph in long relief in 2013. With the caveat that relievers can start sucking at any time for no apparent reason, I would expect Warren to match if not improve upon last season’s performance this year if he again fills a setup role.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Rogers In The Rotation: Ugly Track Record

Unlike Warren, Rogers has spent time as a regular MLB starter, making 43 starts with the Rockies, Blue Jays, and Yankees in his career. (He made that one spot start soon after being acquired last August.) Twenty-two of those 43 starts came with the Rockies and seven of those 22 came in Coors Field. Here are Esmil’s career numbers as a starter and reliever:

IP ERA FIP K% BB% GB% HR/FB%
as SP 225.2 5.50 4.72 16.5% 8.6% 48.2% 14.4%
as RP 195.1 5.58 4.10 21.2% 8.9% 43.6% 11.5%

That’s not very good! Rogers has been less bad as a reliever when you look at strikeout rate, home run rate, and … well, that’s about it. There’s not much to like here, though these are career stats, and I’d put more value in what Rogers did from 2012-14 (4.91 ERA and 4.35 FIP) than what he did from 2009-11 (6.57 ERA and 4.57 FIP). That doesn’t really help things, I guess.

The Yankees clearly like something about Rogers. He has good stuff — his fastball has sat north of 93 mph his entire career and his slider has had at least a 17.2% swing-and-miss rate every year since 2010, better than the 15.2% league average — and he’s a converted position player who may be a late blooper. (Rogers is an ex-shortstop who didn’t start pitching until 2007.) The club has had some success with starters exceeding expectations under pitching coach Larry Rothschild in recent years and perhaps they’re banking on that with Rogers.

Rogers In The Bullpen: Swingman

Again, unlike Warren, Rogers would not step into some sort of setup role should he fail to win the fifth starter’s spot. He’s stretched out and his greatest value to the team comes as a swingman, someone who can spot start if needed or throw five innings out of the bullpen. Rogers has had success as a one-inning reliever — 3.06 ERA (3.13 FIP) in that role with the Indians in 2012 — but this is a “what have you done for me lately” business. Warren was excellent in a setup role last year. Rogers hasn’t done that for the Yankees. He’s a swingman all the way, assuming he loses the fifth starter’s spot to Warren.

Thoughts two weeks before the start of the 2015 season

Ouch. (Presswire)
Ouch. (Presswire)

Opening Day is two weeks away now … well, one week and six days, but who’s counting besides everyone? I am completely over Spring Training and ready for the regular season to start now. The novelty of Grapefruit League play is gone. Let’s get this show on the road already. Anyway, I have some thoughts to share.

1. My guess right now is Masahiro Tanaka starts Opening Day, not CC Sabathia. Both are lined up to start the first game of the season — Sabathia if he stays on a normal five-day schedule, Tanaka if he stays on a six-day schedule as the Yankees hope to do as long as possible — though I think it’ll be Tanaka not because he’s the better pitcher, but because it will make it easier to give him that extra day of rest between starts. Opening Day is April 6th and the Yankees are off April 7th and April 15th. Tanaka will be able to make his first three starts with an extra day of rest without the team needing to use a sixth starter. That’s not insignificant with Chris Capuano hurt and the rotation stretched thin. The Opening Day starter doesn’t mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, but, in this situation, it would better allow the Yankees to give Tanaka extra rest without complicating the roster situation. That does mean something. Maybe I’ll feel differently tomorrow or next week, but right now I expect Tanaka to get the ball for the first game of the regular season.

2. The Rockies somewhat surprisingly released right-hander Jhoulys Chacin over the weekend, opting to pay him 45 days termination pay ($1.36M) rather than his full $5.5M salary. Chacin, 27, had a strong year in 2013, posting a 3.47 ERA (3.47 FIP!) in 197.1 innings while somehow allowing only eleven homers despite playing his home games in Coors Field. He has been getting smacked around in Spring Training though, and last year he was awful (5.40 ERA and 4.82 FIP in 63.1 innings) whenever he wasn’t sidelined by shoulder trouble. Chacin has also lost roughly three miles an hour off his fastball since that 2013 season (via Brooks Baseball):

Jhoulys Chacin velocitySalt River Fields in Arizona is outfitted with PitchFX, and it had Chacin at 88.3 mph earlier this month. That’s really bad. He averaged 91.4 mph in 2013 and 89.2 mph around the injuries in 2014. Chacin clearly isn’t the guy he was two years ago. At least not right now. It’s only a matter of time until some team signs him hoping he can get back to that 2013 form though, or even his 2010-12 form (3.64 ERA and 4.15 FIP). The Yankees could use pitching depth in general and especially after Capuano got hurt. Chacin’s worth a minor league contract just to see if he can be better outside Coors Field — he told Eno Sarris the thin air doesn’t allow his curveball to break as much as it normally does, and he feels the curve is his best pitch — but I don’t think he’s someone you could sign to an MLB contract and promise a spot on the pitching staff, let alone in the rotation. I think Adam Warren is a better starting pitcher right now than this compromised version of Chacin. Minor league contract? Great. I wouldn’t sweat it if he heads elsewhere though. I’m certain the Rockies tried to trade him before releasing him but were unable to find a taker. That says a lot about how teams feel about Chacin right now.

3. I’m not sure what the best solution is for MLB’s service time manipulation problem — I like Mike Petriello’s suggestion of making 100 days count as a full year of service time rather than 172 days, but even that is imperfect — but it’s something that needs to be addressed when the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires following the 2016 season. Obviously Kris Bryant is the hot topic right now and as annoying as it is to hear the argument day after day, it was going to take something like this to spur change. The game’s best prospect is crushing the ball in Spring Training after dominating Double-A and Triple-A last year, and he plays for a team that just announced they were contenders by signing Jon Lester and Joe Maddon. Bryant is clearly one of the 25 best players in the organization yet the Cubs would be stupid not to send him down for two weeks to delay his free agency and grab another year of his prime at a below-market salary. I can’t imagine the other players in the clubhouse would be thrilled with management fielding a lesser club (even for two weeks) in 2015 because they have an eye on 2021 though, when they’ll likely be long gone and no longer with the team. I expect the MLBPA to file a grievance if Bryant is sent down even though he’s a non-40-man roster player, and while those usually take weeks to play out (Bryant will probably be called up before the actually hearing), he could be retroactively credited with service time if MLBPA wins. That’s happened before with grievances involving injuries (player gets hurt, gets sent down, then is placed on the DL sort of thing) but not healthy assignments to the minors. Either way, I’m sure MLBPA will be adamant about fixing the service time issue come the next round of CBA negotiations.

Refsnyder. (Presswire)
Refsnyder. (Presswire)

4. Jose Pirela suffered a concussion yet avoided a more serious injury when he crashed into the outfield wall and slammed his head on the warning track Sunday. We don’t know how long he will be out, though in all likelihood the injury eliminates any chance of Pirela making the Opening Day roster. That sucks for him the most, but remember, he was probably going to be the first one called up whenever an extra body was needed, infielder or outfielder. With Pirela out of action for the time being the Yankees lose some position player depth. Assuming Pirela is down for a few weeks, who gets called up if an extra infielder is needed? There are no minor league infielders on the 40-man roster. The Yankees would have to clear a 40-man spot (Ivan Nova to the 60-day DL is the easiest and most obvious move) for whoever they call up.  There is an open 40-man roster spot (I miscounted) so it would be easy to add Rob Refsnyder, Nick Noonan, Jonathan Galvez, whoever. There are enough spare outfielders on the 40-man roster — Ramon Flores probably moves to the front of the outfield call-up line now — so that’s not as big of a problem. The infield is pretty thin though. Pirela probably wasn’t going to make the Opening Day roster anyway, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t an important depth player.

5. If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend Chris Smith’s profile of Matt Harvey. I see Harvey as the perfect “next New York sports hero” following Derek Jeter‘s retirement — sorry, no one on the Yankees has that appeal — even though Harvey is basically the opposite of Jeter. Jeter was a boring quote who managed to keep his very public life private. He made it work. Harvey talks a lot, spars with his team, and has made it no secret he likes to soak up everything New York has to offer. That’s not a bad thing! Personality is good. I think the Mets need to a better job of marketing Harvey and making him that New York sports hero. It’s there for the taking. For whatever reason baseball as a whole has this old school “act like you’ve been there before” attitude that is so dull. Guys like Harvey, Yasiel Puig, and Bryce Harper have personality and it’s fun. Baseball wants to appeal to younger fans? Then start marketing these guys. (And get others like Bryant in MLB on the Opening Day roster!) The clean cut types aren’t interesting enough to draw non-baseball fans to the sport.

Open Thread: March 23rd Camp Notes

The Yankees lost to the Nationals by the score of 7-6 this afternoon. Chris Young had a whale of a game, going 2-for-3 with two long home runs (off righties Doug Fister and Casey Janssen), a hit by pitch, and a nice running catch in the left-center field gap. Brian McCann hit a two-run homer and both John Ryan Murphy and Rob Refsnyder had a pair of hits.

Bryan Mitchell got the start and was wild, walking three and striking out two in 3.1 innings. He allowed four hits and was charged with two runs. Chase Shreve had his fourth straight rough outing, allowing two inherited runners to score and being charged with one run of his own in one-third of an inning. Shreve has allowed seven runs and eight base-runners in his last 2.1 innings (four appearances), which ain’t good. He probably pitched his way out of an Opening Day bullpen spot. Jacob Lindgren didn’t strike anyone out in his perfect inning. He got three ground balls instead. Here’s the box score, here are the video highlights, and here’s the rest from Spring Training:

  • It was pouring in Tampa, so all the minor league games were cancelled and Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran had to hit inside in the batting cage rather than get actual at-bats. David Carpenter threw the day’s only bullpen session. Nathan Eovaldi is scheduled to pitch in a minor league game tomorrow while Esmil Rogers starts the Grapefruit League game. [Chad Jennings, Brendan Kuty]
  • Jacoby Ellsbury (oblique) is improving but there is no firm timetable for him to resume baseball activities. Jose Pirela (concussion) still doesn’t feel well and went through more tests today after crashing into the wall yesterday. Ivan Nova (Tommy John surgery) could begin facing hitters in live batting practice next week. [George King, Marly Rivera, Kuty]
  • Joe Girardi said both the backup catcher and fifth starter competitions are still wide open. He did say he would like to name his fifth starter by the end of the week “in an ideal world” so everyone else can shift to bullpen mode, however. [Kuty, Rivera]
  • Last, but certainly not least, our own Jay Gordon is participating in Walk MS to help raise money for research to fight multiple sclerosis and programs to benefit those dealing with MS. You can make a donation right here. Thanks in advance.

Here is tonight’s open thread. MLB Network will show the Reds and Rangers live later tonight, plus the Knicks, Nets, and Devils are playing as well. There’s no college basketball though. March Madness is on hiatus until Thursday. Talk about whatever you like here.