As a Twins fan I’ve been hoping they’ll sign either Felipe Lopez or Orlando Hudson to play second base and hit second in the lineup, but the Minneapolis Star Tribune‘s beat writing tag team threw some cold water on both scenarios recently.
First here’s LaVelle E. Neal II on Lopez:
Lopez? Scouts tell me you want to hit the ball to him. Not the Twins’ way.
Looking at any kind of advanced defensive statistics is also “not the Twins’ way,” so Lopez’s solid showing in Ultimate Zone Rating since becoming a full-time second baseman is ignored. That’s unfortunate, because he has a decent glove and has hit .298/.366/.409 over the past two seasons. He’d help the Twins plenty.
And now here’s Joe Christensen on Hudson:
I’ve been told Hudson had little interest in the Twins in the past but seemed humbled after last offseason, when he was a Type A free agent and had to settle for an incentive laden one-year deal with the Dodgers. … The Twins are discussing it, but my guess is Hudson signs elsewhere.
Right now the list of quality free agent infielders has dwindled considerably and the Twins’ projected lineup has Nick Punto starting at second base and Brendan Harris starting at third base, so not making a serious run at Lopez or Hudson would be very disappointing unless general manager Bill Smith has something else up his sleeve. And usually he doesn’t.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.
According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.
Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.
While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.
Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.
More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.
Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.