Three weeks ago the Rays named Alex Cobb as their Opening Day starter, but now he’s going to begin the season on the disabled list. Their new Opening Day starter will be Chris Archer, who threw 195 innings with a 3.33 ERA and 173/72 K/BB ratio last season.
Cobb, Drew Smyly, and Alex Colome are all injured, so the Rays’ rotation will be patched together early on. They’re hoping that Cobb will return in mid-April.
Archer will be the first pitcher other than David Price or James Shields to start Opening Day for the Rays since 2007.
Curt Ford, an outfielder who played four seasons with the Cardinals in the 1980s, was assaulted at a St. Louis gas station and told to “go back to Ferguson you [racial slur].”
Christine Byers of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that 37-year-old James Street has been arrested for allegedly punching the 54-year-old Ford “after shouting racial slurs at him.” Surveillance video captured the incident, which occurred around noon Wednesday when the two men pulled up to the same gas pump.
According to police: “Street was exiting the store when he approached Ford, and unprovoked, punched him in the face, and drove away.”
And now Ford is considering moving away from St. Louis, telling Byers:
I’m going to let the authorities handle this situation, but I’ve had enough of St. Louis. You hear about this kind of stuff happening, and I always knew it existed because of my previous experience working here in St. Louis, but you try to keep away from it and there is just no way you can do that unless you stay inside like a hermit.
Byers also noted that Ford “had difficulty speaking clearly because his face was swollen.”
Francisco Lindor had an impressive spring, but as expected the Indians have sent the 21-year-old shortstop to Triple-A.
Baseball America, MLB.com, and Baseball Prospectus all ranked Lindor as a top-10 overall prospect this year and he hit .297 with two homers and six total extra-base hits in 16 spring training games for a .902 OPS.
However, the plan all along has been for Jose Ramirez to keep the shortstop position warm for Lindor, who seems on track to arrive in June or so. Lindor’s minor-league numbers haven’t been eye-popping, but he’s been incredibly young for every level of competition and last season held his own between Double-A and Triple-A as a 20-year-old.
Veteran catcher John Buck, who was trying to win a job with the Braves on a minor-league contract, announced his retirement after 11 seasons in the majors for seven different teams.
Buck was signed in late January, after the Braves had already signed A.J. Pierzynski to serve as the veteran backup behind Christian Bethancourt. He had a good spring at age 34, hitting .320 with a 1.052 OPS in 12 games, but clearly the Braves had already settled on Pierzynski taking the job.
Buck debuted with the Royals as a 23-year-old in 2004 and spent the first six years of his career in Kansas City. He moved on to the Blue Jays in 2010 and made his lone All-Star team, hitting .281 with 20 homers and an .802 OPS. And then he hit just .216 with 44 homers and a .656 OPS in 388 games from 2011 through the end of his career.
Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders was making steady enough progress in his return from knee surgery that reports about him possibly being ready for Opening Day began surfacing, but manager John Gibbons shut that down today.
Gibbons told Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com that Saunders will not be ready for Opening Day and will begin the season on the disabled list. At the time of the surgery the initial timetable had Saunders missing most of the first half, so returning at any point in April would still be a major boost for Toronto.
Saunders was acquired from the Mariners in exchange for left-hander J.A. Happ in December and will be the Blue Jays’ starting left fielder once he’s healthy. Last season he hit .273 with eight homers and a .791 OPS in 78 games.