Aaron Gleeman

coco crisp getty

Coco Crisp got a cortisone injection in his injured elbow

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Oakland shifting Coco Crisp from center field to left field was supposed to help keep him healthier at age 35, but he’s already injured.

Crisp was scratched from Tuesday’s game with right elbow soreness and received a cortisone injection, which always sidelines a player for at least a few days.

Crisp has logged just 15 at-bats this spring and Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com notes that there’s a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day. Right fielder Josh Reddick is likely to begin the season on the disabled list with an oblique injury, so the A’s outfield could be patchwork early on.

A’s demote former All-Star Ryan Cook to Triple-A

Oakland Athletics v Minnesota Twins
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Ryan Cook struggled somewhat down the stretch last season and allowed 13 runs in five spring training appearances, so the A’s have demoted the former All-Star reliever to Triple-A.

Cook has a 2.77 ERA and 204 strikeouts in 198 career innings and has even served as Oakland’s closer on occasion, but he simply hasn’t looked right in camp and the A’s would rather he attempt to get back on track in the minors.

Here’s what manager Bob Melvin told Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com:

We’ll try to get him down there and get these things worked out, because Cookie has been an instrumental piece to our success. We just felt he needed a break from this, go down and work on things. Sometimes something like that can rejuvenate you. Certainly it wasn’t fun for anybody, especially him. He was shocked, and I don’t blame him. But we expect him to be back here, we really do.

Oakland will also begin the season without injured closer Sean Doolittle, so offseason pickup Tyler Clippard will play a key role early on.

Google Maps made Edwin Jackson miss his start Tuesday and things went downhill from there

Chicago Cubs v St. Louis Cardinals
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As if enough things haven’t already gone wrong for Edwin Jackson during his time with the Cubs.

Jackson showed up too late to start yesterday’s game against the A’s because Google Maps sent him to the wrong ballpark. I’ll let Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com explain:

“I actually put it in Google Maps and typed in ‘Oakland Athletics spring training complex,’” Jackson said. “It took me to the old one. I know, it’s crazy, but, yeah, that pretty much sums it up. A crazy, crazy way to start a day.”

Jackson left before the team bus and wound up at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, which is now home to the Arizona State University baseball team. The Cubs still keep a Mesa mailing address by the Tempe/Scottsdale border, with Google Maps saying Sloan Park is 3.6 miles away from Hohokam Stadium.

Because he was late the Cubs had Blake Parker pitch the first inning and then Jackson entered the game later, at which point he allowed eight runs in 1.2 innings of work.

Jackson has two years and $22 million left on his contract, but after back-to-back awful seasons in Chicago he’s not even a sure thing to get the No. 5 spot in the rotation. At this point–warning, bad joke coming!–the Cubs wish he couldn’t find Wrigley Field.

He did it again: Kris Bryant hits ninth homer of spring

Kris Bryant
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It probably won’t influence whether he makes the Opening Day roster, because that’s more about service time rules than his performance, but Cubs uber-prospect Kris Bryant continued to dominate this afternoon with his ninth home run of spring training.

Bryant, who was last season’s minor league player of the year, came into today hitting .480 with a 2.072 OPS in 10 spring games. (Seriously, those are his actual numbers.) Today’s homer came off A’s left-hander Drew Pomeranz.

Bryant is expected to begin the season at Triple-A because by waiting just a couple weeks to call him up the Cubs can push back his eventual free agency by an entire extra season.

2015 Preview: Cleveland Indians

Terry Francona
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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The Cleveland Indians.

The Big Question: Are the Indians trending up or down entering Terry Francona’s third year as manager?

After winning 92 games and a Wild Card spot in 2013 the Indians dropped to 85 wins last season, missing the playoffs by three games. Their division rivals all had very busy offseasons, but the Indians basically stood pat. First baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss was their lone big addition (Gavin Floyd too, but he’s already out for the year) and there were no notable departures, so Chris Antonetti, Mark Shapiro, and the Indians’ front office clearly believes last year’s team was capable of more and can take a step forward with better health and perhaps some help from prospects.

That’s definitely a reasonable approach, although it’s worth noting that the Indians declined by seven games last season and went just 85-77 despite a breakout, Cy Young-winning year from right-hander Corey Kluber and a breakout, MVP-caliber year from outfielder Michael Brantley. They got two spectacular performances from previously unspectacular players … and still barely finished above .500. So what happens if Kluber and/or Brantley come back down to earth a bit in 2015?

Fortunately for the Indians they have lots of under-30 talent with the upside to make up for any Kluber/Brantley-related declines. Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, and Trevor Bauer all have the potential to emerge as impact, high-strikeout starters and Carrasco already showed signs of doing so last year. Even after losing Floyd before he ever threw a pitch for them the Indians have quality, albeit largely untested rotation depth behind Kluber.

First baseman Carlos Santana’s overall numbers were plenty good–including 27 homers and a league-high 113 walks–but once he got on track following an absolutely brutal season-opening stretch that left him with a .150 batting average after six weeks he posted a .900 OPS for the final four months. Santana is one of the best switch-hitters in baseball, with 30-homer power and 100-walk patience.

Jason Kipnis had a breakout 2013, hitting .284 with 17 homers, 30 steals, and an .818 OPS to rank among the league’s best all-around players, and then signed a $52.5 million contract extension. He followed it up with a miserable 2014, struggling through injuries while hitting just .240 with six homers and a .640 OPS. His age and skill set suggest he should bounce back in a big way if healthy.

And by midseason the Indians may get a boost from stud prospect Francisco Lindor, a 21-year-old switch-hitting shortstop who ranks as a top-10 prospect according to Baseball America, MLB.com, and Baseball Prospectus. Even if Kluber and Brantley take a step backward this season the Indians have the other pieces in place to be a contender and if Kluber and Brantley come anywhere close to repeating their 2014 performances Cleveland is a few breaks from rising as high as the best team in the league.

What else is going on?

  • I didn’t mention catcher Yan Gomes above, because I don’t think he has a ton of further upside at age 27. But he doesn’t need it, because he’s already one of the league’s best catchers. Gomes was acquired for pennies on the dollar from the Blue Jays before 2013 and has hit .284 with 32 homers, 45 doubles, and an .801 OPS in 223 games for the Indians. Among all MLB catchers during that time only Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy have a higher OPS and Gomes also has a high throw-out rate plus good pitch-framing numbers. He’s a stud.
  • Right-hander Cody Allen is a prime example of why the mystique and aura often attached to the closer role is so over the top. As a setup man in 2013 he threw 70 innings with an 88/26 K/BB ratio. As a closer in 2014 he threw 69 innings with a 91/26 K/BB ratio. Basically identical performance, except he pitches the ninth inning now instead of the eighth inning. And he’s one of the league’s top closers.
  • Brandon Moss was a mess down the stretch for the A’s last year and it was later revealed he played through a torn hip labrum. That’s never a positive thing, but he’s looked good this spring and Moss had 21 homers with an .878 OPS in the first half last year after topping an .850 OPS in 2012 and 2013. It’s tough to count on Nick Swisher for much of anything at this point, but Moss adds another big bat.
  • Cleveland is going for a third straight winning season for the first time since way back in 2001, when the Indians were the kings of the AL Central and won their sixth division title in the span of seven seasons. Their Opening Day starter that season? Bartolo Colon, who 13 years later will be the Mets’ Opening Day starter this season.

Prediction: Neck and neck with the Tigers all season and a Wild Card spot if they fall short in the division.