Kyle Blanks started at designated hitter yesterday in a “B” game against the Mariners, marking the first time he’s faced live pitching in 10 months as he comes back from Tommy John elbow surgery.
Blanks went 0-for-2 with one walk and two strikeouts, and John Maffei of the North County Times writes that “the results weren’t pretty.”
In his postgame assessment, Blanks seemed to agree that he was very rusty:
I’ve been tracking balls in batting practice, but this was the first live at-bats with the intent to hit the ball. I definitely felt competitive, but the reps just aren’t there. And those were the first breaking balls I’ve seen since early last season. I didn’t get ready, didn’t get set. I rushed myself. But I’ll take that to the bank and remember it. The last at-bat was bad. I haven’t see stuff like that for a long time.
Blanks will have plenty of time to shake off the rust, as he’s expected to begin the season on the disabled list and, once ready, will head out on what figures to be a 20-day rehab assignment. Blanks is unsure about his official timetable, but did say: “One thing is for sure … I need to get some serious reps on the curveball machine.”
At just 24 years old the former top prospect remains a big part of the Padres’ long-term plans, but he’ll likely have to work his way back into the lineup with platoon job splitting time with left-handed hitters Will Venable or Brad Hawpe.
Here are the Rangers and Blue Jays lineups for Game 1 of the ALDS in Toronto:
CF Delino DeShields
RF Shin-Soo Choo
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Prince Fielder
1B Mike Napoli
LF Josh Hamilton
SS Elvis Andrus
2B Rougned Odor
C Robinson Chirinos
SP Yovani Gallardo
With left-hander David Price on the mound for Toronto the Rangers are going with Mike Napoli at first base over Mitch Moreland. Beyond that it’s a pretty standard lineup for Texas, or at least standard for what manager Jeff Banister used down the stretch once Josh Hamilton was healthy enough to play left field.
LF Ben Revere
3B Josh Donaldson
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Justin Smoak
C Russell Martin
2B Ryan Goins
CF Kevin Pillar
SP David Price
After returning from the disabled list for the final weekend of the regular season Troy Tulowitzki is in the lineup and batting fifth. That allows Ryan Goins to play second base in place of the injured Devon Travis. Justin Smoak gets the nod over Chris Colabello at first base against a right-hander.
Houston made one unexpected change to the roster for the ALDS, leaving off veteran reliever Chad Qualls.
Qualls warmed up but never appeared in the Wild Card game win over the Yankees and during the regular season the 36-year-old right-hander logged 49 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 46/9 K/BB ratio. Qualls was on the Astros’ last playoff team in 2005.
Utility man Jonathan Villar has been bumped off the roster in favor of outfielder Preston Tucker, as the Astros opted for a good left-handed bat off the bench versus the Royals rather than Villar’s speed.