Craig Calcaterra

Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander to go to the disabled list for the first time in his career

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The Tigers just announced that Justin Verlander will start the season on the disabled list. The culprit: triceps strain which had originally been thought of as a “cramp.” They still don’t think it’s terribly serious, however, and they’re saying that he should be good to go for an April 12 start.

This is Verlander’s first-ever trip to the disabled list. Had to happen eventually, I guess.

2015 Preview: Is this the weakest AL East we’ve seen in years?

Buck Showalter
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A lot of people thought the 2014 AL East could be the weakest. They especially thought that after the first couple of months of the season when the Toronto Blue Jays sat atop the division and everyone else was sorta floundering. People suspected that the Jays were in for a correction — and that correction came thanks to both injuries and finding their true level — but no one else looked particularly strong. Some commentators were nearly certain that no team would even win 90 games.

The Orioles, however, soon began to pull away. The ended up with 96 wins and won the division by a dozen games while everyone else either struggled, reconfigured their rosters or both. Was it a strong division last season? Nah, not really. But at least one team came out of it looking good, and the streak in which the winner of the AL East had at least 95 wins under its belt reached its fourteenth straight year.

It’s hard to see that streak continuing this season. As our previews of the individual AL East teams demonstrate — here are the Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Jays, Rays — there is an argument for almost every team to either win the thing or crater badly.

The O’s look OK, but they’re counting on a lot of comebacks from players with injury histories. The Red Sox have pop, but the pitching is not scaring anyone. The Yankees have some famous and talented players who could experience a nice late-career resurgence, but betting on aging and injury-prone players is no safe bet at all. The Jays are starting a lot of rookies and lost their best starter for the year. The Rays lost their manager, GM and arguably their best player in the offseason and don’t gave the resources to reload as quickly as most teams do. Taken together, that’s a pretty darn mixed bag.

But I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing that everyone in the AL East has a big flaw or three. I mean, what has been everyone’s biggest complaint about the AL East for most of the past 20 years? That there were two teams — the Yankees and the Red Sox — who could field more talent and pay that talent more money than anyone else and that the Jays, O’s and Rays couldn’t break through. The Rays broke through, but that was often explained away as some function of Moneyball magic and years of high draft picks and, man, merely mediocre teams like Toronto and Baltimore had no shot.

Well, now everyone has a shot. And even if that means that we won’t necessarily see the most stellar brand of baseball being played at all times in this division, we should see some competitive races. So viva the “weak” AL East. Even if it’s the weakest it’s ever been.

Jenrry Mejia has shorn his locks

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 7.53.30 AM
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A week or two ago I got all bent out of shape when Andrew McCutchen cut his glorious hair. Now another guy with cool hair has opeted for the neat look.

Here’s Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia before:

source:

And here he is after:

OK, maybe Mejia’s “before” was not as good as McCutchen’s, so maybe it’s less offensive that he got the trim. But really, fun hair is hard to find in baseball these days. Why can’t any of the dozens and dozens of players with horrible beards shave them off instead?

Curt Schilling says Clay Buchholz doesn’t want to be an ace

Schilling
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Death. Taxes. The sun rising in the east. Curt Schilling peddling bullcrap that, coincidentally, serves to bolster his own legend. These are among the few 100% inevitable things in the cosmos.

An example of that last one came yesterday when, in the course of a media conference call, Curt Schilling said that Clay Buchholz doesn’t have what it takes to be a No. 1 starter:

“Well, I don’t think he wants to be one,” Schilling said Wednesday in a conference call to promote ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. “I think there’s a level of commitment mentally and physically you have to have. You have to have a little bit of a dark side, I think, in the sense that losing has to hurt so bad that you do whatever you can do to make sure it never happens again. Clay is just kind of, ‘Hey, I’m going to pitch today.'”

Pretty classic Schilling in that he cites traits that he himself had and which no one can reasonably dispute and then he asserts that someone else doesn’t have them via mind reading or armchair psychiatry or what have you. As if every top starter for a contending club must be psychologically wired like a Hall of Fame-caliber guy. As if he knows what goes on in Clay Buchholz’s mind.

If you want to say that the Red Sox rotation has questions, say it. Because it does. If you want to say that Clay Buchholz has been an uneven pitcher and it’s not at all certain that he can fulfill his potential in 2015, say that too, because it’s possible. But please, spare me the “he doesn’t want it bad enough” jazz. Especially when your entire basis for saying that is “hey, when I pitched, I did, and that guy ain’t me.”

In other news, Curt Schilling pitched in the majors a mere eight years ago. Imagine how amazing his “these kids just don’t want it bad enough” game will be in another decade or so.

Coco Crisp needs surgery, will miss 6-8 weeks

Coco Crisp AP
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We learned the other day that A’s outfielder Coco Crisp would start the season on the DL. Now Susan Slusser of the Chronicle reports that he’ll miss way more time than 15 days:

The Chronicle has learned that Coco Crisp is expected to need surgery to remove a bone spur and chips in his right elbow, and he would miss six to eight weeks after the arthroscopic procedure.

Josh Reddick is going to start the season late too due to a strained oblique. You have to wonder, then, if Billy Beane won’t try to make a deal for an outfielder.

Certainly not the way the A’s wanted to break camp this year.