Author: D.J. Short

Alex Rodriguez AP

Alex Rodriguez takes reps at first base for first time in career


According to Bryan Hoch of, Alex Rodriguez took some ground balls at first base yesterday for the first time in his career. Chase Headley is expected to be the team’s regular third baseman this season, so Yankees manager Joe Girardi wants if Rodriguez can be a potential backup to Mark Teixeira. It was only one workout, but A-Rod is game for the opportunity.

“It was fun. Any time I’m on the field, I’m just happy,” Rodriguez said. “But I’ve got a good tutor in Tex.”

The transition didn’t exactly get off to the smoothest start, as A-Rod’s new first base mitt went missing for a brief time. It was eventually found atop another player’s locker. Simple mistake or an act of sabotage? Story to come in a New York tabloid near you.

This isn’t A-Rod’s first position change, as he previously made the transition from shortstop to third base after joining the Yankees in 2004. This is obviously a different situation, though. If all goes according to plan for the Yankees, the 39-year-old might only see a handful of games at first base this season.

Ronald Belisario fractures left shoulder getting out of a swimming pool, will miss start of season

Ronald Belisario Getty

According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Rays reliever Ronald Belisario will miss the start of the season due to a fractured left (non-throwing) shoulder. He suffered the injury about a month ago while getting out of a swimming pool. That’s a new one.

Belisario joined the Rays on a minor league deal over the winter and appeared to have a decent chance to make the Opening Day roster, but he’s now shut down from doing anything on the field for the next two weeks. It’s unclear when he could be ready for game action.

Belisario, 32, posted a 5.56 ERA and 47/18 K/BB ratio over 66 1/3 innings with the White Sox last season.

Nationals sign Rich Hill

Rich Hill AP

The Nationals have agreed to terms with left-hander Rich Hill on a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Hill, who turns 35 next month, bounced around three different organizations last year and mostly pitched in the minors. The sidearmer had a 3.38 ERA in 16 appearances between the Angels and Yankees and posted a 2.93 ERA in 29 appearances at the Triple-A level with New York and Boston. Hill pitched with the Indians in 2013 and struggled to the tune of a 6.28 ERA and 51/29 K/BB ratio over 38 2/3 innings.

Hill could compete for a job as a left-handed specialist this spring. He has held left-handed batters to a .216 batting average in his career.

Cliff Lee scheduled to make spring debut next Thursday

Cliff Lee AP

In what will be his first game action since last July 31, Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee is set to make his Grapefruit League debut next Thursday against the Astros.

Lee finished last season on the disabled list with a recurrence of a flexor pronator strain in his elbow, but Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure told Jim Salisbury of that he’s healthy and ready to go.

“Cliff is right on. He’s throwing well. He feels good. So he’s right on schedule,” McClure said.

Lee is expected to pitch two innings, which is pretty standard for a spring debut. He’ll get stretched out in subsequent outings in advance of the regular season. A healthy spring might not be enough to convince someone to trade for him, but he’s obviously someone who could get moved at some point this year.

Lee, 36, is owed $25 million this season and $27.5 million or a $12 million buyout for 2016.

Mets don’t intend to talk extension with Daniel Murphy

Daniel Murphy AP

While Daniel Murphy would like to discuss a contract extension with the Mets, it looks like a foregone conclusion that he will test free agency after the 2015 season.

Marc Carig of Newsday reports that the Mets have “no intention” of engaging in extension talks with Murphy, which has been their stance dating back to last year. The two sides recently agreed to a one-year, $8 million contract to avoid arbitration, but the Mets are prepared to let him walk next offseason and are even hesitant of making him a qualifying offer.

Murphy turns 30 in April and owns a .290/.333/.419 batting line for his career, but he’s a below-average defender at second base and will only likely get worse as he ages. He’s not the best candidate for a lucrative multi-year deal with New York, especially with prospect Dilson Herrera in the pipeline.