Camp notes: Joba struggles, Bedard shines
• If it's my day to write our spring training blog, Joba Chamberlain must be in the news. Joba faced five Team Canada batters in an exhibition Thursday afternoon: He walked four, allowed a hit, threw a wild pitch and didn't get anyone out. Youch. The Yankees pulled Chamberlain with the bases loaded and no one out in the first inning after he had walked in two runs. Chamberlain told reporters afterward that he felt fine physically, but that his mechanics were simply messed up. It was March 5, so it's not exactly time to panic. But on the same day we learned Alex Rodriguez may need hip surgery, this wasn't something the Yankees needed to see.
• My buddy AJ Mass noted yesterday that Juan Pierre is the odd man out in the wake of Manny Ramirez finally signing with the Dodgers. Despite the fact that Pierre started the spring with 12 hitless at-bats before finally getting a base knock yesterday, he still came out and told the team's official Web site that he wants to be traded.
"They gave us permission to talk to teams and try to find a situation that can work out for everybody, and that's all I can ask for," Pierre said. It's true that Pierre is no more than a fourth outfielder in L.A., but that's richly deserved. He can run, but that's just about it, and every year he's vastly overrated by the fantasy community. Because he takes so few walks, his runs totals are never as high as they should be, and he's a terrible waste of a roster spot when it comes to the power categories. Pierre has three years and a whopping $28.5 million left on his contract, so good luck engineering that trade.
• Mariners righty Brandon Morrow, who's looked upon as a sleeper in AL-only leagues, was scratched from his Saturday start because of soreness in his pitching forearm. Morrow has the repertoire for a closer, but Seattle seems to be sticking with the plan of trying him in the rotation first, and allowing the likes of Miguel Batista, Mark Lowe, Roy Corcoran, David Aardsma and Tyler Walker to battle for the closer's gig. Morrow is next scheduled to pitch a week from Friday. If he doesn't make that start, it might be time to worry.
• Matt Wieters went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI while hitting cleanup for the Orioles Thursday. He's hitting .462 and slugging .833 through his first 12 spring training at-bats, making the fantasy world drool over him all the more. I don't expect Baltimore to break camp with Wieters on the big league squad, if only to trim a season off his major-league service time. But he's going to be one interesting hitting catcher when he arrives sometime in 2009.
• Oft-injured speedster Ryan Freel stole his fifth base of the spring for the Orioles on Thursday. Freel figures to play pretty much only against lefties, at least to start the year, but could wind up a cheap source of AL-only speed if he finally stays healthy.
• Brewers fifth starter Braden Looper told the team's official Web site that he was "encouraged" by his recovery from a tight oblique muscle. Manager Ken Macha said there was still a chance Looper could get back on the mound "soon," which would enhance his chances of getting in enough spring work to be ready to start the season off the DL.
• Rangers reliever C.J. Wilson, who racked up 24 saves in 2008 but probably will set up in '09, left Thursday's game against the Padres when he was hit in the pitching hand by a grounder. The Rangers say X-rays were negative, but this doesn't hurt Frank Francisco's bid to lock down the closer's role.
• Shawn Hill of the Nationals couldn't make his start Thursday because of continued pain in his pitching forearm, and the team's official Web site reports that Hill is scheduled to visit Dr. James Andrews on Friday. Six words you don't want associated with your fantasy pitcher: "scheduled to visit Dr. James Andrews."
• Rockies reliever Taylor Buchholz, who posted a 2.17 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP in a set-up role for Colorado last year, will miss the next four to six weeks because of a sprained pitching elbow, according to the Denver Post. Apparently, though, an MRI revealed a "partial tear" in Buchholz's elbow, which does lead one to wonder why Buchholz told reporters he had a sprain. But the team doesn't seem to believe he needs surgery right now. Either way, he'll miss the entire spring, and looks likely to begin the season on the DL.
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• The Giants demoted Keiichi Yabu and Kelvin Pichardo to Triple-A Fresno on Thursday. Yabu, in particular, makes for an interesting case, as NL-only fantasy players know he was good for a 3.57 ERA and a respectable 48 strikeouts in 68 relief innings last year for San Francisco. He evidently has no shot to make the team in April.
• The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Eric Gagne is scheduled to undergo an MRI on his pitching shoulder Friday. He's in camp on a non-roster deal and hasn't been able to throw yet; if tests don't show structural damage, he'll try to get back on a throwing program soon, but it's looking less and less likely he'll help out in the Brewers bullpen. Don't be fooled by the name: Trevor Hoffman is the closer in Milwaukee, with Gagne far out of the picture.
• The Giants released Dave Roberts and swallowed his $6.5 million salary rather than keep him as an extra bench player. Roberts can't stay healthy (he has never played in more than 129 games in a single year, and got into just 52 in '08 for San Francisco), but he's just two seasons removed from a 31-steal season. He can't do much more than run, but even at age 36 (he'll be 37 in May), Roberts figures to find a part-time gig with someone in the majors.