Forget “As the World Turns.” This is much more important. Much more dramatic.
As we continue to work our way through spring training 2011, we continue to have some interesting player updates that deserve our attention as fantasy baseball aficionados. You can call this “As the Spring Turns.” Or not.
Andrew Bailey, OAK. The closer doubled over in pain during Monday’s spring action. Suggesting it was elbow and forearm discomfort, there should be some red flags a-waving.
Add more red flags for Bailey’s text message to the local newspaper that he’ll be seeing Dr. James Andrews, who did Bailey’s Tommy John surgery in 2005. This isn’t suggesting he’ll need TJ surgery again, but players typically don’t see Dr. Andrews for a hangnail or other minor ailment.
Be sure to add Brian Fuentes to your late-round draft day shopping list.
Neftali Feliz, TEX. Not a surprise to some, but it is looking more and more like Feliz is targeting a spot in the Rangers’ rotation.
Still drafted as a closer by many who aren’t keeping up with the springtime saga, Feliz last week said he wanted to stay in the bullpen but is now changing his tune, saying that the rotation is his ultimate goal.
Considering his overall ability and the cutter he’s been developing during the offseason, he could be a nice addition to the starting pitcher lists this season, and will likely keep his relief pitching eligibility to boot.
Joe Mauer, MIN. The apple of many fantasy catcher rankings’ collective eye, Mauer’s surgically repaired knee has kept the Twins catcher out of spring action this year due to unexpected soreness.
Twin’s manager Ron Gardenhire suggests that Mauer will start off with some DHing this spring, likely as early as Wednesday, but one has to wonder and worry about Mauer’s knee if it is causing his grief this early in the preseason.
Drew Storen, WAS. The Nationals closer of the future is struggling in the present to the tune of 10 hits and four runs allowed in just over four innings of work this spring.
At the moment, manager Jim Riggleman is suggesting that the team will go with a closer-by-committee approach to start the season. Tyler Clippard, Todd Coffey and Sean Burnett would see some action in that committee, probably.
However, the Nationals will do everything they can to help Storen develop into the main role. Don’t expect much from the other options unless Storen just can’t get it together.
Ian Stewart, COL. A sleeper third baseman for many, Stewart’s strained MCL and bone bruise was starting to look like it could affect his availability for the season opener.
Luckily, he’s showing signs of improvement and even DHed in Monday’s “B” game for the Rockies.
Keep a close eye on his progress.
Jason Heyward, ATL. Last year’s rookie breakout is currently struggling with a stiff back, missing the past two Grapefruit League games and while many in the Braves’ corner don’t seem overly concerned just yet, it is a little worrisome that a power hitter as young as Heyward is already dealing with back stiffness well before the season even starts.
He’s still uber-talented and likely to produce well this season short of an unforeseen sophomore slump or longer term injury, but this still should merit some watching.
Zack Greinke, MIL. Already expected to miss his first three starts of the 2011 regular season for the Brewers due to a rib injury from a pick-up basketball game this spring, Greinke’s progress has allegedly been painstakingly slow so far.
While Brewers’ manager Ron Roenicke suggests that Greinke is showing signs of rebound, it isn’t going as quickly as the squad would have liked. Whenever Greinke shows signs of pain in workouts, they back off. He was only able to manage four minutes Monday before he was sidelined by pain again.
Perhaps the three-start estimate is a bit on the short side of things. It is too early to tell, but keep this in the back of your mind if draft day is fast approaching and no new news comes out about Greinke between now and then.