It’s starting to feel like a rite of spring: Barry Zito shows up with a new delivery he was working on in the offseason, only to ditch it on the advice of Giants coaches.
Zito arrived this year with a new crouched over stance on the mound. I’ll let Andrew Baggarly take it from here:
Zito, who is still owed $46 million, attempted to mimic Tim Lincecum’s delivery during an offseason working with noted pitching guru Tom House. But observers both inside and outside the Giants organization tell me that Zito doesn’t have the arm speed or athleticism to pull off that delivery. Zito’s arm drags behind his body as he plants his front foot, leading to hittable pitches at the belt.
The end results bared that out: Zito had a 7.91 ERA in five spring starts. He allowed 32 hits, including five homers, in 19 1/3 innings.
The plan is for Zito to use his old delivery in a minor league start Wednesday. He’s still slated to be the Giants’ fifth starter this season, though if he has a rough April, the team could turn to youngster Eric Surkamp. After a solid 2010 season, Zito went 3-4 with a 5.87 ERA during an injury-riddled 2011 campaign.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.