James Shields has started Game 1 for the Rays for the past two seasons and manager Joe Maddon just announced that he’ll get the Opening Day nod again this year:
We feel very good about him being the opening day starter. We feel as though he’s earned the right to maintain that position. He was very excited and very grateful about it.
Scott Kazmir got the Game 2 call last season, but he’s with the Angels now and instead Matt Garza will follow Shields in the rotation. Maddon added that David Price and Jeff Niemann will start Games 3 and 4, but he hasn’t decided on the order yet. Niemann actually led the Rays in wins as a rookie with 13, posting a 3.94 ERA in 180.2 innings.
Wade Davis and Andy Sonnanstine are fighting for the final rotation spot, with Sonnanstine having the big edge in experience and Davis possessing significantly more upside.
The Orioles have re-signed infielder Pedro Alvarez to a minor league deal, per a report from Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. The deal guarantees Alvarez $1 million if he makes the 40-man roster and another $2 million in potential performance bonuses. The team has yet to confirm the deal.
This will be Alvarez’s third year with the Orioles. After posting decent numbers in 2016, the 31-year-old was relegated to the minors for the majority of the 2017 season and saw only 14 games at the big league level. He finished the year with an underwhelming .239/.294/.442 batting line and 26 home runs through 595 plate appearances for Triple-A Norfolk.
Alvarez is expected to split his time between first base and DH this spring, and MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli notes that he’s unlikely to experiment with another outfield role. While he isn’t too far removed from his last productive season in the majors, the veteran infielder will function purely as insurance for first baseman Chris Davis and designated hitter Mark Trumbo and will likely begin the season in the minors.