I just got done interviewing Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro. The interview will air on NBC SportsTalk tonight on Versus at 6PM Eastern. In the meantime, though, I can give you the gist:
- Amaro said that he does not comment on rumors and thus didn’t have anything to say about the Gio Gonzalez stuff that was floating around last night, but he did say that whatever else they do, it will not impact what the future of Cole Hamels.
- This is significant, because part of that Gonzalez stuff was tied to the notion of having him replace Hamels in the event he were to be traded or to walk when he becomes a free agent. To the contrary, Amaro told me, the team wants Cole Hamels to be a member of the Philadelphia Philles for a long, long time, and they would address an extension for him “at the appropriate time.”
- The team’s clear priority right now is “addressing the shortstop position,” which is obviously a reference to the team’s reported imminent re-signing of Jimmy Rollins. I tried to bait him a bit by mentioning the Brewers’ reported interest in Rollins. Amaro — because he’s smooth — gave a sly smile and said “I can’t comment on what the Brewers are doing.”
- He acknowledged that it was tough balance to address the flaws that were exposed in the team during the playoffs without screwing up what worked so well for 162 games. He’s confident, however, that team health — specifically Chase Utley and Hunter Pence — will be a big key to helping an offense that looked overmatched in the playoffs. Pitching, he said, is obviously still this team’s strength; finally
- Amaro reiterated what had been previously reported: Ryan Howard, at present, is only expected to miss about the first month of the season and that some combination of Jim Thome and existing parts would fill the void in the big man’s absence.
I did not ask him about Domonic Brown because I heard that Amaro is capable of Jedi mind control and would use it on me if I suggested that the kid needs a freakin’ chance to play. After all, Keaton once said “I don’t believe in God, but I’m afraid of him.” Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Ruben Amaro being mad at me.
Tune in to NBC SportsTalk on Versus at 6PM Eastern to see my interview with Ruben Amaro.
Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?
Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.
Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.