Michael Wacha reported to spring training early and threw a bullpen session over in the weekend in front of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, saying afterward:
I definitely wanted to come into spring training ready to go. Obviously I’m not going full-out bullpen there. I was real happy with the way the ball was coming out. The way pitches were looking and coming along. There’s still a bunch of work left. It’s definitely making good progress.
Wacha battled a stress reaction in his shoulder last season and enters this year as a major question mark, but Matheny told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis post Dispatch that the 23-year-old right-hander “has something to prove” and has given every indication that he feels good.
With a 3.04 ERA and 159/52 K/BB ratio in 172 career innings through age 22 he’s a huge part of the Cardinals’ plans this season and long term, so keeping Wacha healthy and getting him back on track is one of the biggest stories to watch during spring training.
Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.
Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.
Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.
As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.