Camp notes: Cardinals' closer race clearing up

March, 20, 2009

Jason MotteDoug Benc/Getty ImagesJason Motte has struck out 12 batters in 7 1/3 innings this spring.
• The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that potential Cardinals closer Chris Perez won't pitch for the next "several days," after the reliever required an arthrogram earlier in the week to figure out why he was having shoulder discomfort. The team claims Perez has an impingement related to tendinitis, which they don't consider serious, but this is the second time Perez has been scratched from throwing in a week. This news, combined with how well Jason Motte has thrown over the past couple of weeks, would appear to put Motte down as the heavy favorite to begin the year getting saves in St. Louis. According to the Post-Dispatch, he's consistently hit 98 mph with his fastball this spring, though his slider reportedly isn't a finished product.

• The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Fausto Carmona was hit in the right forearm by a comebacker in an intrasquad game Thursday. X-rays were taken and were reportedly negative, and the Indians will take another look at Carmona's arm Friday, but are hopeful their pitcher emerged relatively unscathed.

Chipper Jones told the Braves' Web site that he anticipates returning to action at the beginning of next week. Jones injured an oblique playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, and hasn't seen any action since March 8. The Braves still don't seem to be concerned that Jones could miss any time to start the season.

• Similarly, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Trevor Hoffman doesn't expect to miss the beginning of the season because of his injured oblique. In Hoffman's case, though, the Brewers haven't yet set a timetable for his return.

• And hey, let's go for the injured-oblique update trifecta. Ryan Braun reportedly will try some "light drills" Friday while trying to return from his injured intercostal muscle. Like Jones, Braun hurt himself playing for Team USA, though unlike Jones, Braun is still with the national team, and hopes to be able to play again before the end of the tournament. It's difficult to imagine the Brewers will let that happen, but it does sound like a good sign.

• Let's make it four injured-torso updates! Dustin Pedroia reportedly will return from the strained abdominal muscle he injured while playing for Team USA, and get back in the Red Sox lineup Friday against the Pirates. Pedroia had previously told Boston fans (and, by association, fantasy owners) not to worry too much about his injury, and it appears he was right.

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• The Houston Chronicle reports that Miguel Tejada will receive only probation, and not jail time, for lying to federal prosecutors in a steroid investigation. There didn't seem to be much chance of Tejada missing time this year because of this incident, and that appears to be the case. Draft (or in my case, don't draft) Miggy as you normally would.

• The A's official Web site reports that possible closer-to-be Joey Devine was able to throw a 20-pitch bullpen session Thursday and reported no problems. He hopes to throw one more session Saturday, and if all goes well, could be back in a spring game Monday. He still looks like the choice to open the season as Oakland's fireman.

• Lou Piniella announced Thursday that Sean Marshall will be the Cubs' fifth starter to begin the year, getting the nod over Aaron Heilman, who'll be in the team's bullpen. Marshall is a decent NL-only option. The big lefty posted a 3.86 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP mostly out of Chicago's bullpen last season.

• The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that new Brewers manager Ken Macha is considering occasionally using Jason Kendall as his leadoff man, as he often did when the two men were in Oakland. Kendall probably still won't be of much fantasy use, but guys like Rickie Weeks and/or J.J. Hardy could find their spots near the top of the Brewers' lineup in jeopardy under such conditions.

• Kenshin Kawakami, whom the Braves have penciled into their rotation from the moment they signed him as a free agent from Japan, had to be scratched from his start Thursday night because of "shoulder fatigue," according to the team's official Web site. According to the site, the injury "isn't considered serious," but Kawakami needs to avoid all the setbacks he can. He hasn't looked good yet against big league hitters.

Scott Rolen, who had to leave Wednesday's spring training game because of a strained back, will attempt to take batting practice Friday. The Blue Jays' official site reports that Cito Gaston hopes Rolen will be able to get back into the lineup this weekend.

• The New York Daily News reports that Mets catcher Brian Schneider is day-to-day with a strained right knee and calf. The New York media had issued all kinds of breathless and troubled reports about Schneider's health potentially being a serious concern, but apparently the Mets don't agree, at least not yet.

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• All those clever souls who've drafted Andruw Jones in AL-only leagues may need to give up the dream early. Rangers GM Jon Daniels told the Dallas Morning News Thursday that Jones looked unlikely to be added to the team's 40-man roster Friday, the day Jones may opt out of his contract if he's not officially with the big club. Jones may yet accept a minor league assignment by the Rangers, but he's almost certainly not going to have any big league gig to start the season.

• Rangers manager Ron Washington told the Morning News that Chris Davis will play first base exclusively this year, with Michael Young playing third. Davis will retain his third base eligibility in fantasy leagues for '09, but don't expect him to keep that eligibility after that.

• In the World Stops Turning Department, Russell Branyan stole two bases for the Mariners on Thursday in a split-squad win over the Padres. Suffice it to say if Branyan reaches that level of steals production for the entire season, his fantasy owners will be very lucky.

• Rick Porcello, the Tigers' bonus baby starting pitcher, was scratched Saturday because of a torn fingernail, but came through a side session fine Thursday, meaning he'll throw in a game Friday against the Yankees. He's never pitched above Class A, but Jim Leyland contends that Porcello is a legitimate candidate to be Detroit's fifth starter. While Jeremy Bonderman did pitch two scoreless innings Thursday, his pitch count per outing in his return from major shoulder surgery is still quite low, and he may yet have to begin the year on the disabled list.



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