Derrek Lee took live batting practice yesterday for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb in November, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun.
“A lot of nerves,” Lee said. “I’ve never had surgery. I didn’t know how it was going to respond. I was a little anxious about it. I got a lot of work to do, but it’s a good first step.”
Lee initially planned to take some swings today if he felt well enough, but Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports this morning that he’ll take the day off because his surgically-repaired thumb felt “a little bit tender.” The veteran first baseman downplayed the situation, saying that it was “probably as expected” and that they were simply being “overly cautious.” He’ll try to take batting practice again tomorrow.
As for when Lee will make his first appearance in an exhibition game, Orioles manager Buck Showalter has already ruled him out for the first week of the Grapefruit League schedule.
Free agent middle infielder Danny Espinosa signed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, the team announced Saturday. The deal includes an invite to spring training, where Espinosa is scheduled for his first split-squad game against the Orioles this afternoon.
Espinosa, 30, was inked to another minor-league deal with the Yankees in January. The veteran infielder was competing for an infield job until the team picked up second baseman Neil Walker on a one-year, $4 million deal last Monday. Prior to his release, he slashed .160/.276/.320 with one home run through his first 12 games with the Yankees this spring. He didn’t fare much better in the majors last year, either, batting a cumulative .173/.245/.278 with six home runs and a .523 OPS in 295 PA for the Mariners and Rays.
Blue Jays starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is still dealing with a bone spur in his heel and has officially been ruled out for Opening Day, which could clear a path for Espinosa to claim a starting role in Toronto. Of course, he won’t be the only candidate under consideration — Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz are still in the mix as well, though no final decision appears to be made just yet.