Jemile Weeks entered last season as the Athletics’ starting second baseman, but a sophomore slump resulted in a demotion in August and being left off the postseason roster. But he’ll have a chance at redemption in 2013.
According to Jane Lee of MLB.com, Weeks and Scott Sizemore will be part of what Athletics manager Bob Melvin has called an “open competition” at second base.
“I think it’s going to be a nice competition over there,” Melvin said. “Just because someone starts there Opening Day doesn’t mean someone else might not be there the next day based on a matchup.”
Adam Rosales and prospect Grant Green will also get looks during spring training, but Weeks and Sizemore are considered the favorites for the gig. Sizemore is coming off a lost season of his own, as he missed all of 2012 following surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. He will also get playing time at third base during Cactus League play, but Josh Donaldson is expected to enter spring training with a job to lose.
After batting .303/.340/.421 with two homers, 22 stolen bases and a .761 OPS in 97 games as a rookie in 2011, Weeks delivered a disappointing .221/.305/.304 batting line in 118 games with the A’s last year. While the 26-year-old didn’t hit as many line drives last year, his .254 batting average on balls in play was incredibly low for someone with his speed. If he can make the proper adjustments and have some better luck, a rebound season could be in the cards.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.
Twins’ right-hander Nick Burdi is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the team announced on Friday. Burdi made 14 appearances for Double-A Chattanooga before succumbing to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and is not expected to make his major league debut until mid-2018 at the earliest. A UCL tear doesn’t always require Tommy John surgery — less severe cases can be treated with platelet-rich plasma injections, for example — but Twins’ chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told the press that surgery was unavoidable as Burdi had sustained a “full thickness tear” in his elbow.
Entering the 2016 season, Burdi was widely considered a top ten prospect in the Twins’ system. His exceptional velocity and potent fastball-slider combo made him a fearsome relief option as he came off of his first season in Double-A Chattanooga in 2015. During the 2016 season, however, the 24-year-old experienced a significant setback after a bone bruise cut his season short in late July. Prior to Friday’s diagnosis, he appeared to be staging an impressive comeback with the Chattanooga Lookouts this spring, decorating his efforts with a sparkling 0.53 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.6 SO/9 over 17 innings.
It’s a tough break for the Twins, whose farm system was ranked 21st in the league by Baseball America. “Obviously he’s proven when he’s healthy he’s an absolute premium prospect, and the Twins are treating him that way,” Burdi’s agent, Matt Sosnick, told Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. “We just want to make sure everything we do ultimately leads to the goal of getting him back on the field as quickly as he can.”