Matt Wieters gave the Orioles a bit of a scare earlier this week due to a sore right elbow, but he’s back in the starting lineup tonight against the Rays as the designated hitter.
There was some concern that Wieters was potentially headed for Tommy John surgery, but Dr. James Andrews reviewed his MRI and determined that the procedure wasn’t necessary. He’s still nursing soreness in the elbow, so the Orioles are having him take some time off from catching until it subsides. Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports that Wieters took grounders at first base this afternoon, which could be another way to ease the stress on his elbow while keeping his bat in the lineup. He has played one game at first base in his career.
Wieters is off to a strong start at the plate this season, batting .341 with five home runs, 18 RBI, and a .934 OPS in 23 games.
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.