Mark Trumbo’s season ended a week early because of a stress fracture in his right foot and the Rookie of the Year runner-up’s recovery timetable has been pushed back for the second time.
Trumbo was initially hoping to be recovered by now, but in November doctors added a month to his timetable and now Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that he may not be cleared for baseball activities until late February.
Not only does that put his status for the beginning of spring training in doubt, it makes a potential move to third base even more unlikely than before. Or as Trumbo put it: “I don’t think I had a complete picture of the extent of the injury when we first talked about this in late September.”
Albert Pujols’ arrival and Kendrys Morales’ potential return gives the Angels a logjam of first basemen and corner outfielders, leading to talk that Trumbo could see some action at third base. However, he’s never played even an inning at third base in the majors or minors and now he’s got a bum foot. At-bats are going to be hard to come by in the Angels’ lineup and it wouldn’t be surprising if they lessened the logjam with a trade.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.