Yanks plan to cap Joba's innings
• The New York Daily News reports that Joba Chamberlain will be on an innings count of around 150 this season. That may be wise, considering Chamberlain only threw 100 1/3 innings in 2008, and missed time late in the season because of a shoulder issue. However, it will put a damper on his fantasy value. For the moment, the Yankees still consider Chamberlain to be exclusively a starter. But there's a chance that, once again, the team could make him a setup man down the stretch if they're worried about overuse.
• The Daily News also reports that Johan Santana will be scratched from his Friday exhibition outing against Team Italy because of stiffness in his pitching elbow. Santana says he's fine, and that he fights this kind of discomfort every spring, but the Mets aren't taking any chances with him, especially since he's returning from knee surgery. Keep an eye on whether he's able to take his turn in the middle of next week.
• Speaking of the Mets, Jose Reyes hit two homers Thursday against the Marlins, one against Rick VandenHurk (a grand slam) and another against Willie Collazo. Most notable about the effort was that Reyes was hitting third in the batting order. There's been some noise about moving Reyes down in the lineup, and perhaps him swinging for the fences was an effort to show he could handle it. In the end, I certainly expect he'll be the leadoff man.
• Another twist in the ongoing Manny Ramirez saga: The Dodgers put out a news release Thursday night indicating that the slugger rejected their latest offer, reportedly for two years and $45 million. In the statement, owner Frank McCourt said he felt his team was negotiating against itself and that "when his agent finds those 'serious offers' from other clubs, we'll be happy to restart the negotiations." The L.A. Times reports that Ramirez rejected the offer because it contains $25 million in deferred payments. Drafting Ramirez is still a relatively safe thing for fantasy owners to do, but it is slightly less likely that he'll be a Dodger. But Manny likes money. I'm betting when push comes to shove, he'll be playing somewhere in the majors in April. I still think it'll be with the Dodgers.
• Milton Bradley introduced his quads to the Cubs on Thursday, leaving a Cactus League game in the first inning because of a pulled muscle in his left leg. The Chicago Tribune reports that Bradley is day-to-day, and that the injury isn't considered serious. But, really, does anyone have any doubt about how this movie ends? If you pay full value for Bradley's 2008 statistics here in '09, you're a fantasy fool.
• The Tribune also reports that the Cubs consider Sean Marshall the favorite to land their fifth-starter role, and that Jeff Samardzija is likely to begin the year in the bullpen. Samardzija would be a more intriguing NL-only fantasy option if he remains a starter, so his dynasty-league owners might hope that the Cubs go ahead and send him down to Triple-A, where he can continue to start and wait for a big-league rotation opportunity. Meanwhile, Marshall made his spring debut Thursday, giving up a run and four hits in two innings to the Brewers.
• The Detroit Free Press reports that Jeremy Bonderman has been scratched from his scheduled start in Saturday's spring training game because of stiffness in his shoulder. Bonderman is attempting to come back from surgery to remove a blood clot in his shoulder, and will throw a simulated game before the Saturday game.
• Joel Zumaya pitched a hitless inning for the Tigers against the Nationals, walking one. Most importantly, he reported no pain in his surgically repaired shoulder. While Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney are currently ahead of Zumaya in the battle to be Detroit's closer, and while Zumaya doesn't touch triple digits with his fastball any longer, he could be ready to start the season, which could put him in the short-relief mix.
• Takashi Saito pitched a perfect inning in his first Grapefuit League appearance Thursday against the Pirates, fanning two. His partially torn elbow ligament, which he chose not to address with surgery, hasn't been an issue so far in Red Sox camp. Clearly, if Saito stays healthy, he'll make one of the league's best setup men for Jonathan Papelbon. But that's a big if.
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• Phil Hughes pitched two scoreless innings against the Rays on Thursday, though he did hit two batters and walk another. He also fanned two. At the moment, there isn't any room in the big-league rotation for Hughes, who'll almost certainly begin the year at Triple-A. But there are some potential cracks in the Yankees rotation's health, which could make Hughes an option for AL-only owners later in the year.
• In that same game, Wade Davis hurled two perfect innings for the Rays against New York, including three strikeouts of some fellows you may have heard of: Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano. Davis might be a candidate to make the major-league rotation in an organization without tremendous starting pitching depth, but Tampa is already breaking in David Price as their fifth starter, and unless someone gets hurt or Andy Sonnanstine spits the bit, Davis is probably spending most of 2009 at Triple-A. Remember the name, though.
• And while we're touching on kids who've whet fantasy appetites in the past, how about Homer Bailey, who pitched a scoreless inning, fanning two, against the Twins on Thursday. Bailey seems like he's 30 years old, but he's still only 22, and the Reds plan to give him a chance to win their fifth starter's job this spring.
• The Dodgers signed Doug Mientkiewicz to a minor-league deal, according to the L.A. Times. Mientkiewicz played 37 games at first base last year and 33 at third, providing him with some surprising positional eligibility. Of course, he also only got 285 at-bats with the Pirates. Even if he makes the Dodgers' big-league roster, it doesn't seem likely he'd get that many ABs unless someone important gets hurt. And I can all but guarantee you he has more letters in his last name than he'll hit homers in 2009.