Detroit’s impressive bullpen depth will be put to the test, as Al Alburquerque is expected to miss the first half of the season after undergoing elbow surgery.
James Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press reports that Alburquerque “had a screw inserted into his olecranon to stabilize a non-displaced stress fracture in his right elbow” and won’t be cleared to begin throwing for at least 12 weeks.
Alburquerque had an amazing rookie season for the Tigers, posting a 1.87 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 43 innings while holding opponents to a .142 batting average, but had a couple rough appearances in the playoffs after which he wasn’t used much in high-leverage spots.
Octavio Dotel, who was signed to a one-year deal last week, will likely slide into Alburquerque’s old role and combine with Joaquin Benoit to set up closer Jose Valverde.
In a mailbag published on Thursday, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post says he has spoken with Arenado and his agent from the Wasserman Media Group. Based on that, he says the Rockies have not broached the subject of a contract extension with the All-Star third baseman.
Arenado will enter his second of four years of arbitration eligibility after earning $5 million for the 2016 season. He’s due to a hefty pay raise and will continue on that track into free agency after the 2019 season. It may behoove the Rockies to get extension talks started sooner rather than later. Saunders, however, thinks that Arenado wants to see if the Rockies become contenders in the next two seasons before signing the dotted line.
Arenado, 25, enters Thursday’s action batting .293/.361/.567 with 40 home runs, 130 RBI, and 112 runs scored in 678 plate appearances. His 40 homers is best in the National League and the 130 RBI are best in the majors. He has an argument for winning the National League Most Valauble Player Award.
Agent Scott Boras eulogized client Jose Fernandez at his funeral on Thursday. Boras couldn’t even get through the first sentence without breaking down in tears. It was difficult to watch without wanting to sob myself, but it was a touching eulogy that spoke for a lot of people who were fond of Fernandez.