Scott Olsen tossed four no-hit innings yesterday in his first relief appearance since 2005, but afterward made it very clear that he wants nothing to do with the bullpen long term.
I’d like to start. I don’t want to be a bullpen guy. The biggest difference in not being able to throw 140 feet before I get on the mound. That’s not going to work. I’ve done it. I don’t get on the mound unless I play long toss. That’s the biggest difference. Obviously, I don’t want to be in the bullpen. I’d rather start. That’s not what they want me to do.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post described Olsen as “slumped in a chair in front of his locker” and noted his “glum postgame demeanor.”
Olsen’s reluctance to fill a role he’s basically never filled before is certainly understandable, but he’s at the “beggars can’t be choosers” portion of his career at this point. He’s gone 3-8 with a 5.88 ERA in 15 starts this season and is 23-38 with a 5.22 ERA in 92 starts since his good rookie season for the Marlins in 2006.
Four years, 92 starts, and 516 innings worth of a 5.22 ERA as a starter basically means you no longer have any say over your role. And if anything Olsen should be open to a move to the bullpen because it might extend his career and give him a chance to be something more than a fourth or fifth starter.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.
Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:
I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.
The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.
The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.
Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.
Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.
The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.