Nick Franklin was expected to have at least a share of the starting second base job for the Rays to begin the season, but that’s in jeopardy now that he has suffered a strained left oblique.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times notes that Franklin tweaked his oblique on his last swing of batting practice this morning. Rays manager Kevin Cash said that they are “not too optimistic” that he’ll be ready for Opening Day, which makes sense given that these type of injuries can sideline players for a few weeks.
The Rays have already named Asdrubal Cabrera as their starting shortstop, so assuming Franklin begins the season on the disabled list, Logan Forsythe figures to get most of the playing time at second base. Alexi Casilla, Tim Beckham, and Jake Elmore could also be in the mix.
John Hickey of the Mercury-News reports that Josh Reddick gave up his number 16 to Billy Butler when Country Breakfast signed with the A’s. The price? Not high: “For Reddick, giving up 16 wasn’t a major hardship, particularly since he got a new X-Box from Butler out of it as a token of appreciation.”
John Lackey gave Pat Neshek an autographed Babe Ruth ball when he was traded to the Cardinals last year. A.J. Burnett started a college fund for Daniel McCutchen’s kid in exchange for a number. Julio Borbon once gave Adrian Beltre his number for an expensive watch. Jim Thome gave Alexi Casilla a Rolex. My favorite of all time — which I mention whenever this comes up — was former Giants punter Jeff Feagles who got Plaxico Burress to pay for an outdoor kitchen at his vacation home in Phoenix in exchange for number 17 and — before that — got Eli Manning to send the Feagles’ family on a vacation to Florida in order to give up number 10.
So, in the grand scheme: an X-Box seems a bit . . . light.
I feel like the price was low, though, thanks to some psychology on Butler’s part. Read in the article how he talked about how it was such a duty — he even calls it an “unwritten rule” — for a player to give up his number to a guy with more service time. Which may very well be true, but the way in which Butler talks up that proposition for the article — like it’s a law — makes me wonder if Butler put that pitch to Reddick too. You know, to lean on him some.
And maybe he sold Reddick some undercoating too. Great deal on that undercoating.
Tampa Bay has added some infield depth by signing switch-hitter Alexi Casilla to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Early in his career Casilla showed some promise with the Twins, but he never developed enough offensively to be a quality regular and is more of a second baseman than a shortstop defensively.
He’s a 30-year-old career .247 hitter with a .633 OPS, but Casilla does bring plus speed and some defensive versatility to a possible bench role for the Rays.
With reliever Ronald Belisario’s deal with the Blue Jays having fallen through, the Rays took the opportunity to snap him up and sign him to a minor league deal, per Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Topkin adds that the Rays are likely to add infielder Alexi Casilla on a minor league deal as well. Both are expected to compete for major league jobs during spring training.
Belisario, 32, spent last season with the White Sox, finishing with a 5.56 ERA and a 47/18 K/BB ratio in 66 1/3 innings. He was effective out of the bullpen in the previous two seasons with the Dodgers, however.
Casilla, 30, has a career .633 OPS over parts of nine seasons in the major leagues. He appeared in only one game for the Orioles last season, spending most of the year with Triple-A Norfolk.
We learned last month that the Mets and Rays had been in touch with the Mariners about a trade for infielder Nick Franklin, but CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Orioles are also interested.
Baltimore would be a logical fit for Franklin, as Ryan Flaherty, Jonathan Schoop, Jemile Weeks, and Alexi Casilla are the current internal options to play second base. He would likely be in the mix at second base with the Rays as well, but the Mets are scouting him as a shortstop this spring. However, there’s still some question about his ability to handle the position defensively at the major league level.
Franklin is competing with Brad Miller for the starting shortstop job with the Mariners this spring, but he remains the underdog despite posting some impressive numbers in Cactus League play. He came into today’s action hitting .304 (7-for-23) with one home run and three doubles in eight games. While he’s probably not going to win the starting job over Miller, the solid showing can only help his trade value.