A’s prospect Chris Carter told Jane Lee of MLB.com that he’s hoping to win a spot on the Opening Day roster despite a very crowded outfield/designated hitter picture following the offseason additions of David DeJesus, Josh Willingham, and Hideki Matsui.
At the end [of last season] I thought I could be their guy coming in and making the team. Now, it’s definitely more of a competition. I don’t know my chances now of making the team with the signing of new players. I’d like to think I’m going into camp with an opportunity to make the team. We’ll see how it turns out.
He’s going to be disappointed. Daric Barton is locked in at first base, Matsui was signed to a one-year, $4.25 million deal to start at designated hitter, and the starting outfield is pretty much set with Willingham and DeJesus flanking Coco Crisp. Unless the A’s decide to keep the 24-year-old Carter around as a bench bat and platoon starter he’s destined for a second straight season at Triple-A.
In fact, A’s director of baseball operations Fahran Zaidi all but admitted that they have him slated for the minors when talking to Melissa Lockard of Scout.com:
Going out and getting David DeJesus and Josh Willingham is not an indictment of what we think of Chris Carter. He’s a guy who is still very much a part of our long-term plans and a guy we are still very much excited about. We just think that he could use a little more seasoning after hitting .258 in Triple-A.
Carter could also use a lot more practice as an outfielder, because after playing mostly first base in the minors the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder looked absolutely brutal in 156 innings there for the A’s and Barton seemingly isn’t going anywhere at first base.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.
According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.
Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.
While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.
Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.
More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.
Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.