Welcome to the first Spring Training recap of the season! Here’s hoping everyone had a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day—let’s raise a pint for the return of baseball! We had four games to serve as the primer for the corned beef and cabbage. It wasn’t much, but a few weeks ago, this day seemed like it would not come. We were able to chew on the beloved split-squad style matchups with the White Sox and Cubs, while the Twins and Red Sox did battle and the Rockies and Diamondbacks took aim at each other. From this day forward throughout spring training, Pitcher List will be guiding you through the top news and performances from the previous day’s games. We will also be highlighting what to look for in today’s matchups. Thursday marks the return of baseball! Blue skies, the crack of the bat, and the pop of leather. It is a beautiful thing.
— Jahmai Webster (@WebsterOnTV) March 17, 2022
- Freddie Freeman is taking his talents to Los Angeles. On Wednesday night, the five-time All-Star and 2020 National League MVP signed a 6-year, $162 million deal. Freeman’s addition to the lineup aids the Dodgers in constructing what is arguably the greatest lineup in baseball right now, boasting an embarrassment of riches with Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, and Freeman leading the charge.
- Kris Bryant, surprising everyone, found a home in Colorado. Unassumingly, the Rockies swooped in and locked up Bryant’s services with a 7-year, $182 million deal. Everyone certainly appreciates the Rockies’ investment back onto the field, and it is something worth applauding since Bryant’s deal is the loftiest contract given to a free agent in Colorado’s franchise history. This move leaves some scratching their heads about what plan is in place, if any. Bryant now assumes the role of face of the franchise, but they need a lot more to contend in a competitive National League West.
- “The Toronto Blue Jays continue their quest to put together a contending team for the 2022 season. The team’s latest move came Wednesday morning when they acquired Gold Glove third baseman, Matt Chapman, from the Oakland A’s. Heading back to the A’s, according to Blue Jays reporter Shi Davidi, is the following package of prospects: Kevin Smith, Gunnar Hoglund, Zach Logue, and Kirby Snead.” Check out our own Nicole Cahill’s article for more.
- Fernando Tatis Jr. had surgery on his broken left wrist on Wednesday. It is still uncertain how Tatis broke his wrist, but back in the winter, there were rumors that he had been involved in a motorcycle accident when he spent time in the Dominican Republic. Either way, he is expected to miss three months if all rehab goes well. He will certainly be missed in the Padres’ lineup since he led the National League in 2021 with 42 homers despite dealing with injuries last season.
- In off-the-field news: “A federal judge ruled that minor leaguers are year-round employees who work during training time and found Major League Baseball violated Arizona state minimum wage law and is liable for triple damages. U.S. District Judge Joseph C. Spero in San Francisco also ruled MLB did not comply with California wage statement requirements, awarding $1,882,650 in penalties.” (Associated Press)
- The Corey Dickerson US Tour rolls through St. Louis. The Cardinals agreed to a 1-year, $5 million deal with him and he will attempt to forge a consistent spot in the lineup. He now adds the Red Birds to the ever-growing list of teams he has played for: Colorado, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Miami, and Toronto. In 2021, Dickerson was a league-average hitter compiling a stat line of .271/.326/.408 in 365 plate appearances. He spent a decent amount of time on the IL (June 15- August 3) with a foot contusion, which slowed him down quite a bit. During his time on the injured list, he was traded to the Blue Jays where he finished up the year fairly hot. In 46 games with the Jays, he hit four homers and had 15 RBIs (MLB)
- MLB is saying goodbye to regular COVID-19 testing for everyone except individuals exhibiting symptoms, all while keeping the option to shift games if the health situation in a specific area worsens. MLB and MLBPA put the finishing touches on their 2022 coronavirus protocols, which in turn eased restrictions for the upcoming season. We are still awaiting the conclusion and decision being made on the hotly debated pandemic-born rule which had ghost runners starting at second base to speed games that went into extra innings.
Top Hitting Performances
Bobby Dalbec sends one back to Boston!
— Boston Strong (@BostonStrong_34) March 17, 2022
Bobby Dalbec hit the first home run of the Spring and it was a doozy. He lined up the fourth pitch of Cole Sands‘ day and made him pay for a mistake over the plate. Social media lit up with glee as Bobby Bombs ushered in a new season of Boston Red Sox baseball with a bang in the first inning. It was a very well-rounded day for the Red Sox offense as they had a hit from five of the hitters in the lineup. They beat the Twins with 1,000 paper cuts but Dalbec’s blow was certainly the most memorable from their win today. He was pulled in the bottom of the sixth for Nick Sogard but he made his impression on the game in three at-bats.
— Red Sox Nation Stats (@RSNStats) March 17, 2022
Yolmer Sánchez is off to a hot start as he looks to cement his place on the Red Sox roster. The former White Sox mainstay has floated around the league since being released in 2019 and was invited to the Red Sox camp. The former Gold Glove second basemen could certainly provide some defensive assistance coming off the bench, and if he can hit in the way he did today, he may have some staying power for the Red Sox.
— 2ThreeBaseball (@Baseball2Three) March 17, 2022
Talk about making the best of your opportunity. Reed comes in as a defensive substitution for Nicholas Northcut in the 6th inning and makes this list. The Red Sox thrashed the new look Twins 14-1 and Reed had his moment here on a Thursday afternoon. The 24-year-old spent 2021 in AA in Portland and is looking to make the most of his invite to Spring Training. Off to a great start!
We love home runs, which means Boswell had to be included. He got the Rockies off to an early start with a homer 108.7 MPH off the bat in the 3rd inning. He also had a great at-bat in the fourth, working a walk on six pitches against Caleb Smith. I wonder how far that ball would have gone in Coors Field.
Yoelqui Cespedes (CF, Chicago White Sox): 2-for-3, R, 2 RBI, HR
It runs in the family.
— MLB (@MLB) March 17, 2022
More home runs! And this time it’s from a familiar last name. The younger half-brother of Yoenis, Yoelqui drilled a home run. Céspedes is the White Sox’ second-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline with raw tools that have White Sox fans excited. However, he is way away from being a polished player and not nearly ready to compete for the crowded outfield in Chicago. Some weird perspective is that he is 24 which is the same age as Luis Robert.
¡CABLE! Yermin Mercedes pic.twitter.com/q1aQL1PmJ5
— Juan Nova Jr ™️ (@JuanNovaJr) March 17, 2022
Tony LaRussa has to be trending on Twitter as he will always be tied to Mercedes long after he’s done as manager of the White Sox. The drama is well documented but let’s focus on the good. A multi-hit game for Mercedes has people abuzz. His torrid start lit MLB on fire for a brief period in 2021. He’s eccentric and entertaining, and let’s hope he continues to hit to make his place in the lineup undeniable. If nothing else, it’s a great story.
The Rockies pitcher probably looked the best out of any pitchers that took the mound on Thursday. Tyler Blach looked like he was cruising throughout the first two innings. He faced six batters and struck out four. He did not give up a hit and looked pretty dominant in doing so – 21 pitches and just everything you could have asked for with your first outing of the season. Having not pitched in the majors since 2019 with the Baltimore Orioles, he is trying to work his way back with the pitching needy Colorado Rockies.
Kyle Hendricks, Nasty Changeup. 👌 pic.twitter.com/vscwU25ztJ
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 17, 2022
The main thing we are watching for with Kyle Hendricks is to find the plate more consistently. He struggled to throw strikes with both curveball and changeup last year, and that was his demise. The Professor took the mound with purpose on Thursday and he wanted to leave us all with a lesson worth pondering. Hendricks faced nine batters all told and his day started like many in 2021, with a lead-off single. But unlike so many starts last year, he worked around the lead-off single and even struck out the next two batters. After whiffing Zack Collins and Micker Adolfo in the 1st inning, he got Blake Rutherford to ground out to end the top of the first frame. His second inning of work was not as effortless. He gave a hard-hit liner for an out to Danny Mendick and two more hits in a row, the worst being the ground-rule double by Yolbert Sanchez. Seeing as there were runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out, giving up one run in the frame to a sacrifice fly was not so bad. That ended the day for him. Some of the same issues rearing their head early in spring but a few bright spots in that first inning. Let’s see if he can straighten those issues from now until Opening Day.
Cumulative Effort (SP & RP, Boston Red Sox): 2 H, 1 ER, 1 R, 5 BB, 8 SO
The Red Sox took the opener approach into Thursday’s Spring Training Opener. The Red Sox pitching staff scattered 2 hits over 9 IPs and gave up one run. Not a great opening act for Gary Sanchez in a Twins uniform going 0-2 with a K and leaving three runners on base. It shall be interesting to see if any of the seven pitchers appearing in the game will play a big part in the Red Sox season. We saw the appearances of Michael Feliz, Taylor Cole, Chris Murphy, Andrew Politi, Zack Kelly, John Schreiber, and Tyler Danish. Hard to say if this was a product of a Twins lineup that left their bats on the flight to Florida or the effectiveness of the Boston staff. Either way, it was a light day of pitching work so they deserved to be mentioned.
What to Watch For Today
Here’s (almost) what it looks like to stand in against Adam Wainwright’s curve: pic.twitter.com/oq39wOn3Gk
— Jeff Jones (@jmjones) March 16, 2022
- Adam Wainwright takes the mound for the St. Louis Cardinals in their Spring Training opener against the defending American League Champion Houston Astros. He will turn 41 in August of this year and be looking to build upon what was considered a renaissance of a 2021 campaign. Wainwright finished 7th in the National League Cy Young voting last year. It was the first time since 2014 that he finished top 10.
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) March 16, 2022
- Marcus Stroman makes his Chicago Cubs debut. He will take on the San Francisco Giants. Stroman came over to the North Side of Chicago in the offseason and certainly would like to show the Cubs faithful what he’s about with a strong first impression. Stroman will be leaned on as a vital piece to the rotation if the Cubs want to make some noise in the National League. 2021 was solid for Stroman after he missed the shortened 2020 season. He finished up in 2021 with a 3.02 ERA and 1.15 WHIP through 179 innings with the New York Mets.
Sandy Alcantara officially scheduled to pitch a baseball game. What a pretty sight. pic.twitter.com/6V15KGVh5S
— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) March 17, 2022
Fresh off his 5-year, $56 million extension, Sandy Alcantara will make his Spring debut for the Miami Marlins. There is pressure on his shoulders as he inked the largest guaranteed contract ever for a first-time arbitration-eligible MLB pitcher. He will enter the 2022 campaign with lofty expectations as a dark horse to potentially win the 2022 National League Cy Young award.
#Rangers manager Chris Woodward spoke to @kandc1053 on how Corey Seager & Marcus Semien are already making an impact on the ball club. Find his full interview on our website! https://t.co/Wy96XbhBkW@OThankKevin @inthemageors @regadetula pic.twitter.com/YWbAfEaKZy
— 105.3 The FAN (@1053thefan) March 17, 2022
- Marcus Semien and Corey Seager will be in the lineup for the Texas Rangers for their debuts. Life comes full circle sometimes because you can turn the clock back to 2013: 19-year-old Seager and 23-year-old Semien were teammates with the Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League. They take the field together 9 years later and are much richer in both experience and their bank accounts. Texas’ early off-season splashes were overshadowed by the lockout that followed but let’s not forget that Texas inked the power-hitting Semien to a 7-year deal back in December 2021 for a contract worth $175 million. Seager also joins Semien on a 10-year, $325 million deal. Both will have huge contracts to live up to. Similar to other teams spending, these deals show that general manager Chris Young and president of baseball operations Jon Daniels were being truthful when they promised they would spend to put a winning team on the field in 2022.
- The new-look Yankees will be in action in their opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Bronx Bombers certainly doesn’t feel like 2022’s finished product. This lineup that takes the field on Friday may look dramatically different come early April. The deal that saw the Yankees sending Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela to the Twins for Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Ben Rortvedt drastically shifted what the Yankees offensive lineup and defensive alignments look like. More specifically, it remade the left side of the Yankees’ infield, with Donaldson taking over at third and Kiner-Falefa taking over at shortstop. There seems to be a wait-and-see approach by Yankees’ fans as they seem to know more trades are coming.
Matt Olson has arrived at Braves camp. Here is manager Brian Snitker giving him a pat on the back.
(Curtis Compton/AJC) pic.twitter.com/pgFqkm0oz6
— Justin Toscano (@JustinCToscano) March 15, 2022
- Matt Olson will take his first step in replacing a legend in Atlanta. The Braves will take on the Red Sox and all eyes will be on first base as he steps into the batter’s box for the first of hopefully many at-bats this year. During the introductory press conference on Tuesday, the Braves were elated to announce they wasted no time in locking him in as the steady replacement to Freddie Freeman with an 8-year, $168 million contract that includes a $20 million club option for the 2030 season.
Graphic by Michael Packard (@artbyMikeP on Twitter & IG)