Dallas Braden will not travel to Japan for A’s opening series

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This season officially begins later this month when the A’s play a two-game series against the Mariners in Japan, but left-hander Dallas Braden will not make the trip with the team as he recovers from shoulder surgery.

Braden threw 45 pitches in a bullpen session yesterday, but told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that “it would behoove me to stay here” and continue his rehab schedule uninterrupted.

Braden underwent surgery on May 17 of last season and according to Slusser the A’s are targeting mid-May for his return to the rotation, but he still has plenty of hurdles to clear first and has yet to throw off-speed pitches from a mound. There’s obviously a spot waiting for Braden in the A’s rebuilt rotation, but at this point counting on him for more than 20 starts is probably wishful thinking.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.