Welcome to the spring training recap for March 3rd! Every day throughout spring training we’ll be providing a rundown of the top news and performances from the previous day’s games, as well as highlighting things to watch for in today’s matchups. There was a bevy of offensive firepower in today’s slate, as well as a few pitcher debuts and some top prospect hype. Let’s get into what we may have missed on Wednesday:
- Framber Valdez suffered a fractured left ring finger after fielding a comebacker. There is currently no timetable for his return.
- The A’s got some bits of good news as Sean Murphy is “progressing well” and Matt Chapman is slated to take the field on Friday.
- Jon Lester is having surgery to have his thyroid removed. He is expected to still be ready for the start of the regular season.
- The Miami Marlins have signed Gio González to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training.
- Yankees manager Aaron Boone will take a medical leave of absence to receive a pacemaker. It is reportedly a routine procedure and Boone is expected to make a full recovery.
Top Hitting Performances
Bobby Dalbec (1B, Boston Red Sox): 2-for-3, 2HR, 2R, 3RBI
Dalbec continues his assault on baseballs, cranking 2 home runs to bring him to 3 for the Spring. If you remember, Dalbec went on an epic homer spree after being called up last season and he is refusing to quit. He still has quite a penchant for strikeouts (42.4% last year) but when he connects he can punish opposing pitchers. Dalbec figures to be the primary 1B for Boston to start the year and he is already making good on his appointment.
Kike Hernández (SS, Boston Red Sox): 2-for-2, 2 2B, R, 2 RBI, BB
With Xander Bogaerts nursing a shoulder injury, the Sox went with their shiny new utility player to handle shortstop. Hernández didn’t disappoint – filling up the scoresheet out of the leadoff spot and contributing a ton to Boston’s scoring parade in the 14-6 victory. Hernández can play everywhere and can provide a consistent presence in the lineup and on defense.
José Rondón (2B, St Louis Cardinals):2-for-3, HR, 3B, 2R, 3RBI
Coming off the bench in relief of Tommy Edman, Rondón feasted on the Mets’ pitching. He managed a triple off of Tom Windle in the 6th and topped it off with a 2-run homer at the expense of Marcel Renteria in the 8th. Rondón has bounced around the minors since 2011 and will need a few more days like this one if he wants to crack the Cards’ Opening Day Roster off the bench.
Shohei Ohtani (DH, Los Angeles Angels): 1-for-2, HR, 2R, 2RBI, BB
Showtime is back and it looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. With a man on in the 5th inning, Ohtani crushed a 468-foot blast to put the Halos up 4-2. After not taking the mound in 2019 and a forgettable 2020 on both sides of the ball, the Angels have confirmed Ohtani will resume his 2-way role in 2021. When he is healthy and producing, Ohtani is one of if not the most exciting player in the game, and he’s off to a great start.
Wander Franco (SS, Tampa Bay Rays): 2-for-3, HR, R, RBI
MLB’s top prospect Wander Franco collected his first hit of 2021, a 2nd inning 2-out homer off Pirates reliever Miguel Yajure. The 20 year old Franco has done nothing but hit since arriving in pro ball in 2018, and the Rays will certainly be aggressive in his development. Franco has the makings of a superstar, and he very well could be Tampa’s starting shortstop sooner than later.
Zach Davies (SP, Chicago Cubs): 2 IP, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
Coming over in the Yu Darvish deal, Davies looks to slot in behind Kyle Hendricks as the Cubs’ #2 starter. Davies threw 2 clean innings in his debut, allowing only one walk and ringing up 2. The walk, a 4 pitch free pass to Kyle Lewis in the 1st, was the only baserunner Davies would have to deal with, as he promptly got Ty France to pop out and induced a groundout courtesy of Jose Marmolejos. Davies certainly won’t blow you away with velocity, but he has the makings of a finesse sinkerballer who is coming off an excellent 2020.
Zach Plesac (SP, Cleveland): 2 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 2 K
Our Zach of the Cleveland variety didn’t fare as well as his Chicago counterpart. Plesac ran in to trouble with 2 outs in the 1st inning, after a Carson Kelly single led to a Christian Walker 2-run shot that put the Diamondbacks in the driver’s seat. His woes didn’t end there, as a Domingo Leyba leadoff double in the 2nd ended up with another Arizona run when Stuart Fairchild knocked him in with a single. With both Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco now in different uniforms, Cleveland will need Plesac to step up as the #2 behind Shane Bieber.
Kwang Hyun Kim (SP, St Louis Cardinals): 0.2 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 2 K
The Cardinals confirmed over the winter that Kim would remain in the rotation after his excellent 2020. His introduction to 2021 however was, well, less than his best. Kim couldn’t escape the 1st frame as the Mets were all over him from the first batter – a 2-2 slider that Kevin Pillar knocked for a triple. After getting a K on Jonathan Villar, Kim caught a bit too much of the plate with a 4-seamer that J.D Davis turned into an RBI single. Kim then immediately allowed the following sequence: walk, RBI single, RBI single. Manager Mike Shildt had seen enough and lifted the lefty after recording only 2 outs. He was then allowed to re enter the game in the 2nd, starting the frame off with a strikeout before walking Kevin Pillar and being lifted again. Pillar would eventually come around to score due to a fielding error. All in all it was an ugly 2021 debut for Kim, who figured to slide into the #2 slot in the rotation behind Jack Flaherty.
Alex Colomé (RP, Minnesota Twins): 1 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, 1 K
Colomé fell victim to a Red Sox lineup firing on all cylinders on Wednesday. The newly minted closer for the Twins was making his 1st appearance of the Spring and boy did it not go as planned. Colomé’s 5th pitch of the afternoon was deposited into the right center field stands by Boston first baseman and home run machine Bobby Dalbec. And it only got worse from there. César Puello legged out a single on the very next pitch, followed by back to back doubles from Michael Gettys and Kike Hernández to make it 3-1 Boston. Colomé induced a groundout from Marwin González, but JD Martinez followed with an RBI double that plated another run and put the Sox up by 3. Colomé managed to get the subsequent 2 outs with a line out and swinging strike out, but the damage was done. With the departure of Trevor May and Sergio Romo, the Twins will be looking to Colomé to be a stabilizing force at the back of the bullpen. These initial results are far from encouraging, but I think it’s best not to overthink what happens this early in Spring Training
Corey Kluber (SP, New York Yankees): 2 IP, 0 ER, 3 K
Remember when I just now said not to overthink Spring Training? Forget all that, because Corey Kluber is officially 100% back! Kluber made his Yankees debut on Wednesday, making quick work of the Blue Jays lineup, allowing no baserunners and racking up 3 strikeouts. He threw 15 of his 22 pitches for strikes and while the velocity looked a bit low for Kluber (he topped out at 91.8 MPH) the long layoff from pitching coupled with this being the 1st start of Spring Training, some slack is allowed. Kluber is attempting somewhat of a comeback attempt with New York, as a strained teres muscle in 2020 limited him to just 1 IP. Even worse, that came after his 2019 was cut short due to a comebacker that broke his right ulna in 2019, when he only managed 35.2 IP. Kluber, who will play most of this season at age 35, is looking to recapture his Cy Young days of 2014-2018 as he will pair up with Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon to front the Yankees’ rotation.
What to Watch for Today
SPs to watch on TV today:
Maeda: how you doin'
The Fratty Pirate: CH/FC good as ever?
Deivi: Solid push for #5 spot?
Moore: Oh. Hi.
Canning: Command good?
Bumgarnder: Is he at 91mph?
Civale: FC focused? CH/SL good?
Houser: FB/SL working?
Nelson: Zommmbie-eh-eh (please be good)
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) March 4, 2021
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)