Astros infielder Jeff Keppinger didn’t have the best offseason. First the ‘Stros traded for Bill Hall and named him their starting second baseman, pushing the 30-year-old Keppinger into a backup role. Then the guy found out in January that he needed surgery to remove a sesamoid bone from his left foot.
Keppinger is not going to be ready for the start of the season. In fact, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com is saying that Keppinger will miss the first six weeks.
He was in a walking boot Thursday in camp and said he’s only “hoping” to get out of it by next week.
Once Keppinger returns to full health, he will be used in a utility infield role, getting limited looks behind Hall at second base and Clint Barmes at short. He batted .288/.351/.393 with six home runs, 59 RBI and 62 runs scored across 137 games last year.
Jake Peavy is still considered questionable for Opening Day, but everything has gone smoothly to this point in White Sox camp.
The right-hander, making his way back from major lat surgery, threw a bullpen session in front of White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and general manager Kenny Williams on Thursday afternoon.
According to Mark D. Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune, Peavy “threw with ease” and reported to abnormal pain or discomfort when he was finished. It’s a good start, but he isn’t fully pushing his body at this point and he still has a long road ahead.
“Just what I expected, because I’ve been on the mound before,” Peavy told reporters afterward. “Just nice and easy. Nothing too much. Just a good side session. Fastball, changeup, and the location was good. Just climbing like the other guys are.”
The White Sox announced Thursday that 21-year-old left-hander Chris Sale is going to open the 2011 season in the bullpen, which serves as a good indication that they are confident in Peavy’s ongoing recovery.
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski spoke to reporters for an extended period of time Thursday about Miguel Cabrera’s Wednesday DUI arrest. Dombrowski touched on a number of important items, but he didn’t have an answer to the question, “When will Cabrera arrive at spring camp?”
Now we know.
According to Noah Trister of the Associated Press, via NBCSports.com, Cabrera has made plans to show up to spring training on Saturday for the first round of position player workouts.
He is still facing a couple of serious charges, including resisting an officer without violence, but his offseason home is not farm from the Tigers’ spring training complex in Lakeland, Florida. He can still make court dates while also showing his face at team practices and gearing up for the start of the regular season.
The Tigers haven’t decided what course of action they’re going to take to further punish Cabrera. It will likely involve some treatment and maybe even a short regular season suspension.
Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays made things official this afternoon, announcing his five-year contract extension worth $65 million.
The contract breaks down as follows:
2011 – $8 million
2012 – $14 million
2013 – $14 million
2014 – $14 million
2015 – $14 million
2016 – $14 million team option or $1 million buyout.
Bautista had asked for $10.5 million in his third and final season of arbitration eligibility while the Blue Jays countered at $7.6 million, so the extension basically pays him about $1 million below the midpoint for 2011 while buying out his first four seasons of free agency for $14 million per year.
Toronto also has a $14 million option or $1 million buyout for 2016, at which point Bautista will be 35 years old and the contract will either look like a bargain for a player who was able to sustain most of the production from his out-of-nowhere breakout or a huge overpay for a team that bet wrongly about his 2010 performance being for real.
I certainly wouldn’t bet on Bautista having another 50-homer, 1.000-OPS season in him, but the Blue Jays aren’t necessarily betting on that either. After all, that type of production would be worth significantly more than $64 million for five seasons, as Fan Graphs pegged Bautista as being worth around $28 million in 2010 alone.
Instead, the Blue Jays are betting on him retaining most of that power as well as most of his improved plate discipline. If he turns back into a pumpkin it’ll be a regrettable contract, but even if Bautista settles in as a 30-homer, .850-OPS hitter going forward he’d be worth pretty close to what Toronto has committed to pay him through 2015. And for his career he’s averaged 25 homers and a .794 OPS per 600 plate appearances.
Last week Scott Merkin of MLB.com wrote an article about Mark Buehrle’s passion for animal rights and Buehrle made some comments about Michael Vick, including stuff like “I know it’s bad to say, but there were times where we hope he gets hurt” and “everything you’ve done to these dogs, something bad needs to happen to these guys.”
His comments predictably generated a lot of attention and MLB.com mysteriously removed the quotes from Merkin’s article after it was published, but today Buehrle had no problem standing behind what he said:
No, I said it. It’s an old story. Again, we are not bringing drama inside and past history stuff. So, I said it, meant it. It’s over, and we’ll move on.
In the wake of Buehrle’s initial comments our NBCSports.com blog-mate Rick Chandler noted that Buehrle hunts deer, ducks, and even bears. Here’s how Buehrle responded when asked about that:
Hunting is a sport. There are hunting stores out there. If that’s illegal, shame on my dad and my grandpa and his grandpa. It’s kind of been brought up throughout the history of America. The last time I knew dogfighting was a sport was never. Again, that’s all we need to comment on that. We’ll concentrate on baseball.
To be pro-hunting and anti-dogfighting is obviously a widely held stance, but I’m not sure simply relying on tradition as the main reason is much of an argument. Many people don’t think the distinction between killing animals and killing animals for “sport” is quite so clear and to say something is acceptable because it’s been happening for a long time isn’t necessarily convincing, since dogfighting and similarly frowned-upon activities involving animals being hurt or killed aren’t exactly new things.
Putting all that aside, I applaud Buehrle and his family for their work with animal rescue groups and I also applaud Buehrle for standing by what he said about Vick. Whether or not you agree with him, it’s obvious he meant what he said and too often public figures simply decide to disown or apologize for their comments when scrutinized even if their beliefs were represented accurately. If you said it and you believe it stand by it, and Buehrle is doing that.