Baseball is back. As we get closer to the regular season, be sure to stop by The Stew each morning for your daily helping of spring storylines.
While the Los Angeles Angels and Mike Trout’s representatives continue discussing a long-term contract, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that Trout himself doesn’t seem too concerned over the proceedings and hasn‘t set a hard deadline for the deal to be signed.
"It doesn't matter to me," said Trout, who signed for $1 million this season but is expected to command well over $100 million in an extension. "Nothing bothers me. I go out there and play, man. I don't worry about any of that stuff."
It's usually about this time in spring training when players in Trout's position stress the importance of signing their new deal before the season opens so it won't serve as a distraction. Trout, however, is wired just a little bit differently than most players. He's relaxed and he's focused on the task in front of him. The off the field stuff stays there, because he knows it will take care of itself. His focus remains where it needs to be, and that's on preparing for a new season.
"I love spring training, but I want to start playing in games that count," Trout said. "I want to be in Anaheim playing. I'm anxious for opening day. I'm excited. I'm ready to go now."
Talks for a new deal have been on-going since November, so if you think Trout is all talk, consider his .444 with nine RBIs in 27 at-bats this spring. He's not distracted now, and he seems primed to unleash his fury in his third full season beginning in two weeks.
JESUS MONTERO OPTIONED TO TRIPLE-A: Former top catching prospect Jesus Montero made a lousy impression this spring when he arrived to Seattle Mariners camp 40 pounds overweight. On the heels of a 50-game suspension last season for PEDs, the Mariners patience with Montero was thin to begin with, so despite a pretty solid spring performance so far — .310/.355/.621 with two homers and three doubles — they elected to send a message on Friday by optioning him to Triple-A.
“It’s up to him,” General manager Jack Zduriencik was quoted as saying back in February. ”I have zero expectations for Jesus Montero. Any expectations I had are gone."
Montero isn't a lost cause, but he's obviously deep in Seattle's doghouse. How long he stays there will be dependent on several things, and as we may have learned on Friday, on field performance is just a small part of it. The Mariners want to see progress in several areas, but it's his maturity that's farthest away from major league ready. How he handles the assignment will tell them a lot. The work he puts in beginning on Saturday is the starting point, and from there it's all up to him to rebuild the expectations.
TWINS REWORK GLEN PERKINS' CONTRACT: Though there was no urgency for the Minnesota Twins to extend closer Glen Perkins, the team chose to reward him anyway with a new four-year deal worth $21.475 million.
Perkins was already under team control through 2015 with a club option for 2016. As a result of the new deal, Perkins will earn $4.025 million this season, $4.65 million in 2015, $6.3 million in 2016, and $6.5 million in 2017. There's also a $6.5 million team option for 2018.
A starter early in his career, Perkins made the move to the bullpen in 2011 and excelled as a closer last season, picking up 36 saves. He notched a 2.30 ERA in 62 and two-thirds inning and received his first All-Star selection. The Twins obviously plan on keeping him in that role for the foreseeable future, but given how unpredictable relievers can be, this contract could look be an eyesore a couple years down the road.
A'S PITCHERS' AILING: The Oakland A's rotation took a hit on Friday when it was learned right-handers Jarrod Parker (forearm stiffness) and A.J. Griffin (elbow) will likely miss the beginning of the regular season.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser, Parker, who was scheduled to be Oakland's opening day starter, will visit Dr. James Andrews in Alabama on Monday. Andrews' office will be full of sore right arms with Braves starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy coming in for second opinions on their elbows. Both are facing a second Tommy John surgery. There's no indication yet that there's the same concern for Parker, but anytime you hear forearm injury followed by Dr. Andrews, it's cringe-inducing.
Griffin, on the other hand, will visit Dr. Doug Freedberg in Scottsdale on Saturday after experiencing elbow discomfort in his start on Thursday.
“Certainly the start of the season is in jeopardy,” Melvin said. “Obviously, the potential is a couple of blows for us. But that’s why we have the depth we do.”
The A's do have depth in Jesse Chavez, who Slusser calls their top pitcher this spring, and left-hander Tommy Milone. But it leaves them thin if another injury pops up.
Braves outfielder Evan Gattis revealed that he underwent arthroscopic surgery in October to remove a dime-sized bone chip that had been “floating around” in his right knee. Gattis says he's had the chip since 2006 following an operation to replace damaged cartilage.
In that invasive procedure, plugs of healthy cartilage and bone are moved from a non-weight bearing part of the knee to replace damaged cartilage. Gattis was on crutches for two months after the 2006 surgery, and soon quit junior college and began a nearly four-year period in which he was out of baseball and wandered the western states, doing various odd jobs, seeking out “spiritual gurus” and searching for a deeper meaning to life.
When he resumed his baseball career years later, the cartilage plugs held up well, but occasionally the bone chip would move to a troublesome spot near the bottom of his quadriceps muscle, and as a result the knee would buckle and Gattis would have temporary excruciating pain.
“The doctor did a really good job,” Gattis said. “I came back good. But I had a fragment floating around for, like, the last seven years. So I had that cleaned out, just smoothed it out.”
Gattis has been icing his knee as a preventative measure, but has not been slowed in any way.
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There's no official award for teammate of the year, but if there was Jason Heyward would certainly be the early leader in the Atlanta Braves clubhouse.
As a kind and appreciative gesture to his teammates for their success last season, Heyward, who recently inked a new two-year, $13.3 million contract, already invested a good chunk of that new money back into his teammates in the form of a special gift.
— Alex Wood (@Awood45) March 14, 2014
Playstation 4's for everybody!
Or at least those who were members of the 2013 division championship squad, according to Talking Chop.
Class act Ladies and Gentlemen. pic.twitter.com/0nZqNtStFh
— Chris Johnson (@C_Johnson28) March 14, 2014
It's impossible to read in these photos, but the little cards attached read as follows.
Congratulations on winning the 2013 NL East title. Thanks for all your hard work and dedication.
At $400 a pop, that's quite a thank you. Heyward dropped at least $7,200 to cover all his teammates that remain from last season. No word on whether or not guys like Brian McCann, who left Atlanta for the New York Yankees over the offseason, can expect a package in the mail, but either way Heyward went above and beyond to show his appreciation.
The timing is pretty good too, considering the Braves learned this week that right-handers Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy are both likely headed for their second Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgeries. The signing of Ervin Santana should help, but having 40-percent of your presumed opening day rotation likely on the shelf for the entire season is a tough pill to swallow with the regular season about two weeks away. It's a clubhouse that needed a pick-me-up, and Heyward provided the goods.
It's a gesture that should help bring the returning players a little closer. As for the new players, well, maybe they should see it as motivation to up their games and help take the Braves even further in 2014. If a division title is worth a PS4, maybe an NLCS or World Series bid is worth a gold watch or a new car.
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Ervin Santana and Fredi González discuss the timetable for Santana's insertion into the Braves' rotation and his preparations for the 2014 season.
MLB news from the past week.
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