Aaron Gleeman

Jamey Wright AP

Dodgers sign 41-year-old reliever Jamey Wright

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Veteran right-hander Jamey Wright, who sat out last season after being released by the Rangers during spring training, has signed a minor-league deal with the Dodgers.

Wright previously pitched for the Dodgers in 2012 and 2014, logging a total of 138 innings with a 4.04 ERA in a middle and long relief role. He mostly flopped as a starter early in his career, but found a niche as a durable bullpen option and would be playing his 20th season in the majors if he cracks the Opening Day roster at age 41.

Josh Hamilton out two months with more knee problems

Josh Hamilton
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Josh Hamilton is having more problems with his left knee and the Rangers announced that he’ll begin the season on the disabled list after receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection to aid the healing process.

Hamilton is expected to be sidelined for a total of two months, which means he’d miss all of spring training and the first month of the regular season. He’ll be on crutches for the next couple weeks and assistant general manager Thad Levine indicated that the team will take a very cautious approach with Hamilton’s recovery timetable:

We are giving him an eight-week program because we don’t want to cut any corners. Last year, we may have accelerated things and he suffered the hamstring injury early and it was an issue all year. This way he will get the benefit of a full spring training.

Texas may look into signing a veteran outfielder to fill in for Hamilton, but if they truly think he’ll be able to return healthy and effective by early May there are some younger in-house placeholder options available. Hamilton was limited to just 50 games last season and 89 games in 2014, and the 35-year-old former MVP  hasn’t topped a .750 OPS since 2012.

Carlos Santana, leadoff man? Terry Francona is thinking about it

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When it comes to leadoff hitters the ideal skill set combines being very fast with being very good at getting on base. Some of the best of all time include Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, Paul Molitor, Kenny Lofton, and Craig Biggio.

Finding someone who combines those two skills is often difficult and for much of baseball history when managers were forced to choose a leadoff hitter based upon speed or on-base skills they typically went with the fast guy. However, in recent years that’s started to change as teams sacrifice speed atop the order to find someone who can avoid outs and get on base for the big boppers.

Which brings us to Cleveland, where manager Terry Francona is giving serious consideration to shifting one of the Indians’ big boppers, switch-hitter Carlos Santana, into the leadoff spot. Here’s what he told Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

The one thing I’ve thought about is Santana leading off. It’s only a thought. Because of his skill set, I think he’d be one of the best leadoff hitters in the game. I know it’s a little unique. Maybe out of the box, and you’ve got to have somebody who can hit cleanup. I don’t know if I’d do it or not. But it’s something I’ve thought about.

Santana is a slow catcher turned first baseman/designated hitter with 25-homer power and a lifetime .245 batting average. Last season he was the team’s primary cleanup hitter and led the Indians in home runs and RBIs. None of which screams leadoff man, obviously.

On the other hand he’s also one of the most patient hitters in baseball, topping 100 walks in each of the past two seasons and drawing at least 90 walks every year since 2011. Santana has a career on-base percentage of .365, including an OBP above .350 in all six of his MLB seasons. Last season across baseball 38 different hitters started in the leadoff spot at least 50 times and fewer than half of them had an OBP above .350.

Santana won’t steal many bases and won’t go first-to-third or second-to-home as quickly or as often as faster leadoff options, but he’ll be standing on a base after having avoided making an out more often than most of them. Some of his home runs will be wasted with the bases empty, but Santana also grounded into 20 double plays last year and coming to the plate with the bases empty at least once per game will reduce that total as well.

And that’s what has Francona considering the unconventional move as spring training gets underway and the manager has potential batting orders dancing through his head. If you want someone to work long counts, put stress on the pitcher, avoid outs, and get on base you aren’t going to find many hitters better than Carlos Santana. And leadoff homers are fun, too.

Rockies’ Jose Reyes put on paid administrative leave until conclusion of domestic violence trial

Jose Reyes
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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced that Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes has been placed on paid administrative leave “pending completion of his criminal proceedings in Hawaii, pursuant to Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy.”

According to the announcement, once Reyes’ trial is completed Manfred “will make a decision whether to impose discipline.” Reyes’ trial is scheduled to begin April 4, which is the same day the Rockies’ season begins. Acquired from the Blue Jays in the Troy Tulowitzki trade, Reyes is under contract for $22 million this season.

Reyes was arrested for allegedly assaulting his wife on Halloween, giving MLB ample time to impose discipline, but clearly Manfred is relying on the court system to play a big role in the end result of the 32-year-old shortstop’s on-field status.

There were also reports that the Rockies wanted nothing to do with Reyes being at their spring training camp while his case was ongoing and his eventual discipline was undecided, so this gives them an official excuse not to have him in attendance.

Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said Monday: “The whole thing, soup to nuts, the whole thing, is held underneath this policy. That’s why I am saying that any communication or contact to this point has been limited, because we are beholden to this policy, which is all-encompassing.”

Albert Pujols hasn’t ruled out Opening Day, is willing to DH

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Oakland Athletics
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Last week Angels manager Mike Scioscia indicated that the team wouldn’t rush Albert Pujols back from foot surgery just to have him in the Opening Day lineup, but today the future Hall of Famer said he’s still hoping to begin the season on the active roster.

Pujols told Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com that despite the November surgery he was able to “get in the weight room a lot” all offseason and hopes that will help him stay healthy. He added that if shifting to designated hitter rather than first base allows him to get back into the lineup sooner and stay in the lineup more often he’d be willing.

I don’t really care about the DH or playing first base. I would love to play first base if I can, but I can’t be selfish. It depends how I feel.

Last season Pujols started 95 games at first base and 62 games at designated hitter. Since joining the Angels in 2012 he’s averaged about 50 games per year at DH. C.J. Cron and Daniel Nava are both perfectly capable of playing first base, so it might be time for Pujols to transition to full-time DH status at age 36.