Mauer's backup doubtful for Opening Day after wrist surgery

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While the Twins work on a long-term contract extension for Joe Mauer his presumed backup, Jose Morales, recently underwent surgery to “stabilize a tendon in his right wrist.”
Morales is hoping to resume baseball activities in mid-March, but even if he avoids a setback that doesn’t leave much time to be ready for Opening Day. In fact, Morales told MLB.com’s Kelly Thesier that being on the active roster for the start of the season is “a little optimistic.”
The injury dates back to the final few games of last season and perhaps explains why Morales finished 3-for-27 (.111) with 11 strikeouts after previously going 34-for-95 (.358) with just 14 strikeouts. Unfortunately rather than getting treatment immediately he opted to rest the wrist until deciding last month that surgery was needed.
Obviously having Mauer means the Twins’ backup catcher rarely plays, but they let veteran Mike Redmond depart via free agency because they were confident in Morales’ ability to take over the job. Drew Butera is third on the depth chart right now, but he’s a career .214 hitter in the minors and Ron Gardenhire has already made noise about using 22-year-old stud prospect Wilson Ramos as Mauer’s backup until Morales is ready.

Nick Williams has been trying to sell Jake Arrieta on the Phillies

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CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.

Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”

On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”

Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.

Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.