The Padres and catcher Nick Hundley already avoided arbitration in mid-January by agreeing on a one-year, $2 million contract, but Corey Brock of MLB.com hears that negotiations on a contract extension have “heated up” this week and that a deal “could be close.”
Hundley has actually talked with the Padres about a possible extension dating back to before former general manager Jed Hoyer left San Diego to join Theo Epstein with the Cubs. The 28-year-old backstop is currently under team control through 2014.
Hundley appeared in just 82 games last season due to elbow surgery and a stint on the DL with an oblique injury, but he also enjoyed his best offensive season in the majors, batting .288/.347/.477 batting line to go along with nine homers, 29 RBI and an .824 OPS over 308 plate appearances. PETCO Park is a more favorable environment for right-handed hitters than left-handed hitters, but you might be surprised to learn that he has a .271/.340/.478 career batting line and an .818 OPS at home compared to a .240/.290/.367 career batting line and a .657 OPS on the road.
We learned earlier this week that Scott Baker had trouble getting loose in a B-game on Saturday, which “raised some red flags” about his throwing elbow. The Twins and Baker continue to downplay the severity of the issue, but it’s increasingly likely that he’ll begin the season on the disabled list.
According to Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com, Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said this afternoon that Baker needs to make it through bullpen sessions on Saturday and Monday before being cleared to return to game action. Barring any setbacks, the soonest he’ll pitch in a game again will be next Thursday against the Orioles. This would set him up to potentially start two more games before the team breaks camp, which Mackey estimates would put him in the range of 80 pitches.
Baker still hopes to start the team’s home opener on April 9 against the Angels, but he also doesn’t want to rush back too soon.
“If that’s what we need to do, that’s what we need to do,” Baker said Friday when asked about the possibility of starting the season on the disabled list. “I know I would love to make the home opener start, and as far as I know that’s still the case. But you’ve got to do what’s smart and wise, and do whatever it takes to get ready for a long season.”
The Twins won’t need a fifth starter for the first time until April 15 against the Rangers, so giving him some extra time might be the most prudent approach.
Baker, 31, posted a career-best 3.14 ERA and 123/32 K/BB ratio over 134 2/3 innings last season. He was limited to just four starts and two relief appearances after the All-Star break due to a strained flexor muscle in his elbow.
It wasn’t all that glamorous and we have no video or photo evidence to share, but Kendrys Morales returned to game action this afternoon for the first time since infamously shattering his lower left leg while jumping onto home plate following a game-winning grand slam on May 29, 2010.
According to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, Morales had five at-bats shuffling between Double-A and Triple-A exhibition games. He had two singles, leaving for pinch-runners each time, and also fouled out, flied out and struck out.
That he got two hits is nice to hear, but the most important part is that he made it through his first game action without any pain in his surgically-repaired ankle.
“No pain,” he said through translator Orlando Mercado. “I just need to be more comfortable.”
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said earlier today that Morales needs 40 to 50 at-bats in order to be ready for Opening Day. He already has five out of the way, but it’s not clear when he’ll make his way over to the major league side.