Kyle Blanks is “a long shot” to be ready for Opening Day

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Kyle Blanks showed immense potential as a 22-year-old rookie in 2009, smacking 10 homers with an .868 OPS in 54 games after joining the Padres in mid-June, but he hit just .157 through 33 games last year before undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery shortly after the All-Star break.

Blanks dropped 10 pounds from his 6-foot-6, 260-pound frame during the offseason and arrived at Padres camp a week early, but told Bill Center of the San Diego Union Tribune that he’s highly unlikely to be ready for Opening Day:

Right now, it’s health and rehab first and playing second. Realistically, it’s a long shot that I would be ready to play on Opening Day and I’m not even thinking about that. I’m at the point of my rehab that I’m hitting three days a week and playing catch three days a week. This type of rehab is a process that you can’t speed up.

Once he’s healthy the Padres figure to work Blanks back into the lineup slowly, perhaps giving him starts in place of Brad Hawpe or Will Venable against left-handed pitching. He remains a big part of the long-term lineup, but counting on Blanks making a major contribution in the first half would probably be optimistic.

Indians to sign Tyler Clippard

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Jon Heyman reports that the Indians are signing Tyler Clippard to a minor league deal. He’ll make $1.75 million if he makes the big league roster.

Clippard, a 12-year veteran who just turned 34, pitched in 73 games for the Blue Jays last year, posting a 3.67 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 85/23 in 68.2 innings. It was a nice bounce back year for him after he spent 2017 bouncing among three different teams in the course of a below average campaign.

With the departures of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, and the elevation of Brad Hand to the closer’s role, Terry Francona will be looking for all the mid-innings help he can get in the Indians’ pen. Clippard could fit that bill.