Hanley Ramirez wasn’t the only player who suffered an injury during the World Baseball Classic championship game.
Samuel Deduno, who tossed five scoreless innings on Tuesday to lead the Dominican Republic to the title, has been scratched from his scheduled Grapefruit League start on Sunday due to groin tightness. He first felt the symptoms while pitching in Tuesday’s title game, but he didn’t think it was all that serious initially. However, the Twins shut him down after he experienced renewed discomfort while throwing a bullpen session on Thursday.
With Scott Diamond headed for the disabled list after a minor setback following elbow surgery, Deduno was being looked at as a fifth starter candidate, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com that he may now have to look in another direction.
“He didn’t think it was a big deal but it is a big deal because you can’t start with that,” Gardenhire said. “So now we’re on hold until he gets back off that. It kind of makes us ad-lib a little bit.”
Cole DeVries, Liam Hendriks and P.J. Walters are among the alternatives if Deduno’s symptoms persist.
Deduno, 29, posted a 4.44 ERA and 57/53 over 79 innings with the Twins last season. He’s coming off a strong performance during the World Baseball Classic in which he compiled a 0.69 ERA and 17/5 K/BB ratio in 13 innings.
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.
Veteran Omar Infante has spent the overwhelming majority of his career as an infielder, but the Tigers plan to give him some playing time in center field this spring. The Tigers’ center field situation is still murky and adding more versatility would increase Infante’s odds of making the roster.
Infante, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Tigers in December. He played 39 games for the Royals last season, batting .239/.279/.321 in 149 plate appearances while playing second base exclusively. Infante last played in the outfield in 2010 with the Braves, and last played center field specifically in ’09 with the Braves.
The Tigers currently have Mikie Mahtook, Tyler Collins, and JaCoby Jones at the top of their center field depth chart. It is not what one would call “optimal.”