Giants starter Tim Lincecum, dealing with a blister on the middle finger of his throwing hand, received the thumbs-up from manager Bruce Bochy. The right-hander missed two starts due to the condition, but felt good after throwing a simulated game to Brock Bond, Gary Brown, and Nick Noonan.
Via MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Lincecum explains his frustration:
“You kind of get into the rhythm of things when spring starts and then all of a sudden you run into something like this, especially as stupid as this can be, that keeps you from doing something that you should be doing all day and every day,” Lincecum said. “But to get back out there and know that it’s not going to be an issue from here on out — at least I hope it’s not — makes me feel good.”
After posting a collective 2.81 ERA between 2008-11, Lincecum drew concern after finishing the 2012 regular season with a 5.18 ERA. Part of that, as Doug Thorburn of Baseball Prospectus points out, was “rooted in conditioning; he lacked the athleticism necessary to consistently coordinate the 80-grade momentum that has become his trademark, while a lack of timing sapped the efficiency of his torque”. The Giants moved their former ace to the bullpen for the post-season; he made just one start in Game Four of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals. Lincecum his hoping to put his 2012 season behind him and move on, returning as one of the top pitchers in baseball.
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.