Mets name Collin Cowgill their starting center fielder

18 Comments

After being acquired from the Athletics during the offseason, Collin Cowgill will open 2013 as the Mets’ full-time center fielder.

According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, Mets manager Terry Collins made the announcement following this afternoon’s Grapefruit League finale against the Orioles. He’s planning to go with Cowgill in center field, flanked by Lucas Duda in left field and Marlon Byrd in right.

Cowgill earned the job by batting .303 (20-for-66) with five home runs, 10 RBI, four stolen bases and a .969 OPS in 26 games this spring. The 26-year-old didn’t get much of an opportunity during his limited time with the Diamondbacks and Athletics, but the Mets are hoping that he can emerge as a useful everyday player.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis began spring training as the as the favorite for the starting center fielder job, but he’ll open the year as a backup after seeing limited playing time in the Grapefruit League due to a knee injury. Jordany Valdespin was impressive this spring and could work his way into playing time if anyone struggles.

The Mets outfield batted just .237/.312/.393 with a collective 2.1 fWAR last season. With Duda, Cowgill, Byrd, Nieuwenhuis, Valdespin and Mike Baxter, this year’s group doesn’t instill much in the way of confidence, but it might not take much for them to be an improvement over 2012.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

Getty Images
1 Comment

Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.