When Brad Penny got out of his contract in Japan and signed a minor-league deal with the Giants last month there was talk of him making a quick path back to the majors and joining San Francisco’s bullpen almost immediately.
Three weeks later that hasn’t happened, and in fact Penny’s first scheduled Triple-A appearance has been canceled because of the same shoulder soreness that played a part in his returning from Japan.
He was supposed to make the first of 3-4 appearances today, but now his status is unclear and manager Bruce Bochy told Chris Haft of MLB.com that “this could take awhile … we have to do what’s right, we’ve got some time.”
In recent years Penny has had sub par results as a starter despite maintaining top-notch fastball velocity, so converting him to the bullpen is a worthwhile idea, but at age 34 and five years removed from his last effective, healthy season it’s not going to be that simple.
Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.
But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.
To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to MLB.com. 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).
According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.