Jose Reyes went 1-for-3 with two steals in an extended spring training game Monday and followed that up by going 2-for-5 with two walks in another extended spring game Tuesday night. Perhaps just as importantly, Reyes played all nine innings at shortstop, possibly signaling that he could be cleared to return from his thyroid disorder when eligible to come off the disabled list this weekend.
He hasn’t played a regular season game since May 20 and coming back from hamstring surgery made him a question mark even before the thyroid situation surfaced. No one seems quite sure what type of impact the thyroid condition could have once he returns and the hamstring problems could mean fewer steal attempts, but I still wouldn’t be surprised if Reyes ends up as a top-three fantasy shortstop. He’s still just 27 years old.
While the Mets hope to put Alex Cora back on the bench soon, here are some other notes from around baseball …
* After a visit with Dr. James Andrews and an MRI exam the news on Huston Street’s right shoulder is relatively positive. No structural damage was found, but he’s been diagnosed with inflammation and will need to do additional strengthening exercises before throwing again. There’s no timetable for Street’s return and he’s already had setbacks, so Franklin Morales should have closer value for at least the rest of April.
* If there was no such thing as a “save” the Twins probably would’ve left Matt Guerrier in to pitch the ninth inning Tuesday after he breezed through a 1-2-3 eighth inning on 11 pitches, but instead they brought in new closer Jon Rauch. And just like most quality relievers will do about 90 percent of the time, he was able to protect a two-run lead for one inning versus the bottom of the Angels’ lineup. So far so good replacing Joe Nathan.
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* Out since breaking his thumb early in spring training, Alex Gordon is scheduled to begin a minor-league rehab assignment Thursday at Single-A. He’s eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday, but will need a little more time than that. Willie Bloomquist started in Gordon’s place on Opening Day, but thankfully for Royals fans’ remaining sanity Alberto Callaspo will be the primary fill-in once his own oblique injury clears up.
* If you do just one thing to enable someone’s addiction today, make it following me on Twitter.
AL Quick Hits: A.J. Burnett struggled Tuesday night against the Red Sox, so expect more rumblings about his compatibility with Jorge Posada … Gil Meche (shoulder) tossed five shutout innings in a minor-league game Tuesday and could be cleared to face the Red Sox this weekend … Mike Gonzalez blew a win for Kevin Millwood when Carl Crawford delivered a walk-off single Tuesday … With left-hander Jon Lester on the mound, the Yankees benched Brett Gardner for Marcus Thames and moved Curtis Granderson to the ninth spot Tuesday … Ken Griffey Jr. also sat against a left-hander Tuesday, with Eric Byrnes replacing him in the lineup and Milton Bradley moving to designated hitter … James Shields served up three solo homers in a no-decision Tuesday and faces the Yankees next … Jeff Mathis started Tuesday over Mike Napoli for the second straight game … Dioner Navarro started over Kelly Shoppach in the Rays’ opener Tuesday.
NL Quick Hits: Lance Berkman received a cortisone shot and had his surgically repaired knee drained, but there’s no timetable yet for his return … Corey Hart rejoined the Brewers’ lineup Tuesday after sitting in favor of Jim Edmonds on Opening Day … Ian Stewart missed the cycle by a single Tuesday and is sporting a nifty 2.357 OPS through two games … Barry Zito shut out the Astros for six innings Tuesday, winning his season debut for the first time since 2003 … Jeff Supppan (neck) is hoping to rejoin the Brewers’ rotation after making one minor-league rehab start later this week … Aroldis Chapman will make his pro debut Sunday at Triple-A … Jeff Francis (armpit) played catch Tuesday and is aiming for a rehab assignment next week … Chris Young looked like his old self Tuesday with six one-hit innings against his namesake in Arizona … Fred Lewis (ribs) is slated to begin a rehab stint Thursday at Triple-A and soon the Giants will have a decision to make on the out-of-options outfielder.
Here are the Rangers and Blue Jays lineups for Game 2 of the ALDS in Toronto:
CF Delino DeShields
RF Shin-Soo Choo
DH Prince Fielder
1B Mitch Moreland
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
2B Rougned Odor
C Chris Gimenez
3B Hanser Alberto
SP Cole Hamels
Adrian Beltre is out of the starting lineup after leaving Game 1 with what appeared to be a significant back injury, leaving Hanser Alberto to fill in at third base. With a right-hander on the mound Mike Napoli goes to the bench and Mitch Moreland starts at first base, and manager Jeff Banister also switched up the batting order a bit without Beltre in the No. 3 spot. Robinson Chirinos homered in Game 1, but he takes a seat in Game 2 so that Chris Gimenez can catch Cole Hamels.
LF Ben Revere
3B Josh Donaldson
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Chris Colabello
C Russell Martin
2B Ryan Goins
CF Kevin Pillar
SP Marcus Stroman
Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista are both in the starting lineup after leaving Game 1 with injuries, which is particularly good news in Donaldson’s case because he suffered a potentially serious head injury sliding into second base. Toronto’s only change from Game 1 is subbing Chris Colabello for Justin Smoak at first base with a left-hander on the mound. There’s right-handed power all over the place, so Hamels’ changeup may be the key to the entire game.
Thursday night’s rain delay cut Yordano Ventura‘s start short after just two innings, as the Royals opted to turn to reliever Chris Young instead of bringing the 24-year-old right-hander back out to the mound following the delay.
One benefit to that is what manager Ned Yost has decided to do now, which is use Ventura to start Game 4 on Monday. Had he thrown, say, 102 pitches instead of 42 pitches Ventura likely would have started Game 5, forcing the Royals to go four starters deep in their ALDS rotation.
Ventura struggled before the delay Monday, allowing three runs in two innings. However, he finished the regular season by going 7-1 with a 2.38 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 68 innings over his final 11 starts, which was enough to convince Yost he was the right pitcher to start Game 1 rather than trade deadline pickup Johnny Cueto.
There’s baseball from noon to midnight today, with a pair of Game 2s in the American League and a pair of Game 1s in the National League.
Tons of great starting pitchers–including the best in the world and a trio of big-name trade deadline acquisitions–and we’ll find out if a home team can actually win a game after starting the playoffs 0-4.
The Game: Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays
The Time: 12:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Rogers Centre, Toronto
The Channel: MLB Network
The Starters: Cole Hamels vs. Marcus Stroman
The Upshot: Stroman coming back from what was deemed a season-ending knee injury in spring training to start Game 2 of the ALDS is a helluva story and the Blue Jays need him to come up big after David Price failed to do his part in Game 1. Yovani Gallardo somehow wriggled out of trouble against Toronto’s scary lineup, but as a left-hander Hamels has an even tougher assignment versus the never-ending right-handed power. Assuming it’s all in the lineup, of course. There are big health question marks for both sides, as Adrian Beltre, Josh Donaldson, and Jose Bautista all exited Game 1 with injuries and their respective statuses could swing the balance of power in the series.
The Game: Houston Astros vs. Kansas City Royals
The Time: 3:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City
The Channel: FOX Sports 1
The Starters: Scott Kazmir vs. Johnny Cueto
The Upshot: Two headline-grabbing trade deadline pickups with a lot to prove, as Kazmir and Cueto both struggled for their new teams. Cueto was bumped back to Game 2 after being acquired to front the Royals’ rotation and there was some speculation that Kazmir might not even have a spot in the ALDS rotation. Kansas City losing Game 1 last night and Houston having Dallas Keuchel waiting in the wings for Game 3 puts a ton of pressure on Cueto’s shoulders. Generally one of the toughest pitchers to homer against, he allowed 10 homers in 13 starts for the Royals and the Astros’ power-packed lineup will put him to the test all afternoon. Can the defending AL champs get off the mat quickly or will they head to Houston in need of a win to keep the season alive?
The Game: Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals
The Time: 6:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Busch Stadium, St. Louis
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Jon Lester vs. John Lackey
The Upshot: Former Red Sox teammates Lester and Lackey square off in Game 1 of the first ever playoff series between two of the biggest rivals in baseball, with the Cubs fresh off their Wild Card game triumph over the Pirates and the Cardinals coming off an MLB-high 100 wins. Yadier Molina‘s ability to play through a thumb injury will be key for the Cardinals and it’ll also be interesting to see how much faith manager Mike Matheny has in Adam Wainwright to get late-inning outs as a reliever after returning from a torn Achilles’ tendon.
The Game: New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Time: 9:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Jacob deGrom vs. Clayton Kershaw
The Upshot: Quite a way to finish an entire day of baseball, as the Mets go looking for their first playoff win since 2006 and Kershaw tries to cement his legacy as an all-time great by dominating in the playoffs like he does in the regular season. And don’t overlook deGrom, because last year’s Rookie of the Year winner has a 2.61 ERA and 349 strikeouts in 331 innings since debuting last May. Among all starters with at least 300 innings during the past two seasons Kershaw ranks first in ERA and deGrom ranks fourth, with Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke in the 2-3 slots. This is a speculator pitching matchup.