Buster Olney reports that the Washington Nationals are “enthusiastic” about their chances of signing free agent first baseman Carlos Pena.
Interesting choice of words in that I don’t think as signing of Pena would bring much enthusiasm to Nats fans. Sure, he’s a more productive hitter than his [gulp] .196 average would suggest, but that’s faint praise. He needs to hit better to be able to carry first base, even on a last place team. There’s a chance that he could improve with a move to the National League, but at 33, improvement is by no means assured.
The interesting thing about this is that the guy Pena would replace — Adam Dunn — was derided by many because they saw only the strikeouts and didn’t appreciate that his great plate patience made him far more valuable than the average fan suspected. Pena would be an even more extreme case of that, with terrible contact hitting subbing in for Dunn’s K’s. Oh, and a good 10-12 fewer homers too.
Royals’ Opening Day starter Danny Duffy weathered a minor scare during Saturday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks. The left-hander was removed from his final spring training start after experiencing some left shoulder tightness in the second and third innings. No lasting damage appears to have been done — Duffy told reporters that he simply felt a slight ache, nothing more — and it looks like he’ll remain on track to open the season with the team next Thursday.
The 29-year-old southpaw is coming off one of his best performances to date. Despite losing a few weeks to an oblique strain and elbow soreness, he went 9-10 in 24 starts and finished the 2017 season with a 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 146 1/3 innings. While Duffy entered camp with a clean bill of health, he struggled to execute against his spring training opponents and racked up 13 runs, four homers, seven walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings of Cactus League play.
The Royals are scheduled to kick off their home opener against the White Sox on Thursday, March 29 at 4:15 PM ET. Barring any further complications with his shoulder, Duffy will take the mound for the Royals, while James Shields is expected to make his first Opening Day appearance for the White Sox.