UPDATE: No matter the reason(s) for Oswalt’s struggles, the Rangers have decided to demote him to the bullpen following their trade for Ryan Dempster. Last time Oswalt made more than one relief appearance in a season? As a 23-year-old rookie in 2001.
Roy Oswalt got lit up for three homers and a total of eight runs by the Angels last night, and afterward the 34-year-old right-hander told Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas that his long layoff between starts was to blame.
Oswalt skipped his last turn in the rotation because of back soreness, so he went 12 days between starts, and his mechanics were out of whack:
I need to get a more consistent arm angle. Sometimes I’m down, sometimes I’m too far up. I can’t find that spot that felt great. Not getting to throw for 11 or 12 days, sometimes that happens.
On one hand prior to last night Oswalt had put together back-to-back solid starts. On the other hand he now has a 6.49 ERA and .333 opponents’ batting average in six starts overall, so if his mechanics are to blame for getting knocked around it isn’t something new.
And his struggles are among the reasons why the Rangers are linked to seemingly every veteran starter potentially on the trading block.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.