Bad news out of Mariners camp this evening. According to Shannon Drayer of Seattle’s ESPN 710, David Aardsma was complaining of groin soreness after Thursday’s spring victory over the Padres.
“Hopefully we catch this before it turns into something serious,” manager Don Wakamatsu said after the game.
If Wakamatsu isn’t concerned, we probably shouldn’t be either. But any time a closer goes down it is always big news in the baseball world. The 28-year-old Aardsma rang up an impressive 2.52 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 38 saves in 42 chances last season as the M’s ninth-inning hurler. He might be behind the rest of the Mariners’ pitchers for the next few weeks, but it doesn’t take long for relievers to get geared up for the regular season, especially closers.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.