Jed Lowrie’s sprained right thumb prevented him from being on the Opening Day roster, but he could make his Astros’ debut later this week.
According to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, Lowrie is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment tomorrow with Triple-A Oklahoma City. He got the go-ahead after taking batting practice from both sides of the plate on Sunday. The current plan calls for him to play rehab games on Tuesday and Wednesday before coming off the disabled list for Friday’s series opener against the Marlins.
Lowrie is expected to serve as the Astros’ starting shortstop this season after coming over from the Red Sox in the Mark Melancon deal, but injuries have been a constant theme during his career. The 27-year-old has never played more than 88 games in a season.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.