Brett Myers gave up two homers in five innings yesterday in a 3-2 loss to the Astros. He has now served up 10 long balls in 21 1/3 innings over his first four starts this season and currently holds a league-worst 8.02 ERA. While he has always been prone to the gopher ball, it appears there’s a reason for his early struggles.
According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Myers said after last night’s game that he has has dealt with soreness in the flexor tendon muscle in his right forearm since spring training. He was visited by manager Terry Francona, pitching coach Mickey Callaway and head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff during the fifth inning last night, but was able to finish the frame.
“My velocity dropped, and I’m not sure why,” said Myers. “It just happened. They came out to see if I was all right.”
Myers averaged 91.6 mph on his fastball as a reliever with the Astros and White Sox, but it has dropped down to 88.4 mph with his move back to the rotation this year. It’s worth noting that he had the same average velocity during his last stint as a starter in 2011 when he posted a 4.46 ERA over 216 innings. Still, if his struggles continue, he could have a stint on the disabled list in his future.
Myers joined the Indians over the winter on a one-year, $7 million deal with an $8 million club option for 2014. The option becomes guaranteed if he throws 200 innings and passes a physical after the season.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.