The Angels made a host of moves after their game last night, which made it official that former Royals prospect Johnny Giavotella has secured the team’s starting second base job.
Josh Rutledge entered spring training as the frontrunner after coming over from the Rockies this offseason, but he batted just .192 (10-for-52) this spring and will begin the regular season in Triple-A. Prospect left-hander Andrew Heaney, who was acquired from the Dodgers for Howie Kendrick this winter, was also sent down after Friday’s game.
The 27-year-old Giavotella was acquired from the Royals for right-hander Brian Broderick in December and owns a .238/.277/.334 batting line over 465 plate appearances in the majors. That doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence, but his playing time was sporadic with Kansas City and the Angels are clearly hoping that his solid minor league numbers will finally translate. He’s hitting .315/.373/.537 with one home run, five doubles, and two triples across 57 plate appearances this spring.
The Blue Jays and Reds played an exhibition game last night at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. It turned out to be a special night for new Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin, who spent part of his childhood in the city and used to go to Expos games at the Big O growing up.
Check out the ovation Martin received before his first at-bat last night:
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Russell Martin’s father, Russell Martin, Sr. played “The Star Spangled Banner” and “O Canada” on the saxophone before the game. You can see the pride beaming from Martin’s face as he watches his dad play. Pretty damn cool.
UPDATE: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the deal is done, pending a physical. It’s for $23 million guaranteed.
10:35 a.m. ET: Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports that it will be a five-year deal with two club options. It will begin this season, so the Royals would buy out all of Ventura’s arbitration seasons while the options would cover his first two years of free agency. The guarantee is expected to be around $22 million, per Passan.
8:55 a.m. ET: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the Royals and right-hander Yordano Ventura are in “deep discussions” on a five-year extension which includes an option for a sixth year. The deal would guarantee him north of $20 million.
Ventura is coming off a 3.20 ERA and 159/69 K/BB ratio over 183 innings as a rookie last season. One of the hardest throwers in the majors, the 23-year-old has already had some health concerns, but it appears that he’s just scratching the surface with his potential. The Royals have a knack for getting team-friendly deals done and this would be quite a coup.
Passan compares this deal to Braves right-hander Julio Teheran, who signed a six-year, $32.4 million extension last February with the same amount of service time. Chris Archer, who signed a six-year, $25 million extension with the Rays last April, is another prominent example. Ventura is under team control through 2019, so if the extension kicks in this year, it would cover all of his arbitration seasons and one year of free agency.
UPDATE: According to Alanna Rizzo of SportsNet LA, Puig was hit in the neck/throat area and left as a precaution. He’s expected to be fine.
11:44 p.m. ET: Scary moment in Thursday’s exhibition game between the Dodgers and Angels, as Yasiel Puig was forced to exit in the top of the fifth inning after colliding with teammate Howie Kendrick.
Both players were going after a pop-up in shallow right field and Puig appeared to take an elbow/forearm to the face from Kendrick as they crossed paths. Puig was down for a couple of minutes before walking off the field with a trainer. Chris Heisey replaced him in right field.
Hopefully his exit was precautionary, but we’ll pass along an update when it’s made available.
Here’s video of the collision between Puig and Kendrick:
It was only natural to temper expectations for Matt Harvey this spring while he worked his way back from Tommy John surgery, but he has done nothing except pick up from where he left off.
Harvey tossed four scoreless innings against the Cardinals this afternoon in his final tune-up of the spring. The Mets’ ace allowed just three hits and no walks while striking out four. You can check out the video below:
Harvey wraps up his spring with a 1.19 ERA and 21/1 K/BB ratio over 22 2/3 innings. That’s right, just one walk to 83 total batters. Command is often the last thing to bounce back after surgery, so you can’t help but be encouraged by how fantastic he has looked. The lengthier layoff might have paid dividends here.
Harvey’s last regular season start was on August 24, 2013. He’ll make his return next Thursday against the Nationals in the Mets’ third game of the season. According to Marc Carig of the New York Daily News, Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen said today that Harvey won’t throw more than 100 pitches in his season debut.