Fortunately for the Cardinals, Chris Carpenter got hurt in early March, rather than at the end of the month.
Manager Mike Matheny made the curious decision last month to have Lance Lynn, Kyle McClellan and Mitchell Boggs all prepare as relievers this spring, even though those three guys seemed to be his next best rotation options in case something happened to one of his top five. Sure enough, Carpenter went down with a neck injury, leaving the Cardinals with a decision to make. Now Lynn, who pitched a scoreless inning against the Marlins on Saturday, will transition back to the rotation.
Lynn was a starter in the minors, and he made his first two major league appearances in that role before shifting to the pen and coming up big for the Cardinals last summer and in October. He had a 2.22 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings of relief work.
With a few weeks to go before Opening Day, there’s still plenty of time for Lynn to get ready to throw five or six innings in a first-week start. That wouldn’t have been the case had Carpenter gone down on March 25 instead. So, while things have worked out okay for Matheny, one of his first decisions as Cardinals manager already looks like something of a rookie mistake.
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.