Spring Training Recap 2022: March 25-27

Everything you need to know from the weekend's Spring Training games.

The second weekend of Spring Training is in the books, and although it’s hard to believe it, Opening Day is less than two weeks away. With the beginning of the MLB regular season fastly approaching, what happens in these exhibition games means more and more as teams look to finalize their roster decisions. Here’s what you need to know from the weekend’s Spring Training action.

 

News

 

  • All 30 MLB ballparks will be using a humidor this season, according to The Athletic’s Eno Sarris. Humidors are used to bring baseballs to an average humidity in an attempt to negate the effects of very dry or very wet locations. Sarris said that the home ballparks of the San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays, and Miami Marlins should see the biggest boost in offense from this move.
  • MLB is furthering its crackdown on pitchers using foreign substances. The league issued a memo about the issue to all teams on Friday, in the belief that pitchers found ways to work around the new rules implemented in the middle of the 2021 season. Umpires will now be able to check both the top and bottom of a pitcher’s hands, in addition to the pitcher’s hat, belt, and glove.
  • Jed Lowrie signed a one-year deal to return to the Oakland A’s for the 2022 season. The 37-year-old second baseman hit .245/.318/.398 with 14 home runs, 69 RBI, and 55 runs over 512 plate appearances last year. Lowrie could play a key part for Oakland this year, as they look to cobble together a respectable lineup after trading former All-Stars Matt Olson and Matt Chapman this offseason.
  • One of last year’s early-season breakouts, Yermín Mercedes suffered a fractured hamate bone in his hand. He’ll undergo surgery to repair the fracture on Monday and is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks. Mercedes took the league by storm in April 2021, hitting .415/.455/.659 but slumped miserably afterward, eventually being demoted by the White Sox.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays acquired outfielder Harold Ramirez from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for minor league infielder Esteban Quiroz. The Cubs’ crowded outfield situation got a little more clarity by moving Ramirez to the Rays where he should serve as the fifth outfielder. Quiroz offers the Cubs an intriguing infield option for a team that has plenty of question marks and injury concerns around the diamond.
  • Diamondbacks’ ace Zac Gallen is unlikely to be ready for his first turn in the rotation. The righty threw a two-inning simulated game on Friday and is likely to make his Cactus League debut soon, but the shortened Spring Training may not give Gallen enough time to be ready for Opening Day.
  • Reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani was scratched from his Spring Training pitching debut on Saturday. Angels’ manager Joe Maddon said Ohtani was the one who made the decision. Ohtani is now scheduled to debut on Thursday, and will reportedly still be ready to throw 90 pitches on Opening Day.
  • Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic reported that MLB has made multiple proposals to MLBPA on ways to limit sign-stealing during games. They include prohibiting batters from viewing scouting cards during at-bats and no longer allowing club personnel to print and deliver scouting information to the dugout after the first pitch.
  • Evan White will undergo surgery to repair a recently diagnosed sports hernia injury. He’ll begin the season on the Injured List.
  • The New York Yankees will offer a long-term contract to star outfielder Aaron Judge sometime before Opening Day. Without a new deal, Judge will become a free agent following the 2022 season. Since his first full season in 2017, Judge has hit .280/.391/.563 with 154 home runs. His 24.5 fWAR over that period is the fourth most among position players, trailing only Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, and José Ramírez.
  • Brandon Belt has yet to make his Spring Training debut due to right knee inflammation. He’ll be re-evaluated next week and will hopefully hit the field soon afterward. Giants’ manager Gabe Kapler said he expects Belt to be on the field for Opening Day.
  • Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly said that reliever Dylan Floro is “a little behind” in his throwing program and is dealing with arm soreness. The team is unsure when he’ll be ready. Floro was expected to open the season as Miami’s closer, so this news certainly puts that into question. If Floro isn’t ready by Opening Day, Anthony Bender or Anthony Bass seem to be the most likely to begin the campaign as the closer.
  • Cleveland Guardians‘ reliever James Karinchak has a strain in his teres major muscle and will be shut down for 7-10 days. His recovery timeline after that shutdown period is unknown, so he may start the season on the Injured List. Karinchak has been an elite strikeout pitcher throughout his young career, but he’s also struggled with his control and issues far too many walks. Whenever he’s back on the field, he should be a great option for holds in fantasy leagues.
  • Ketel Marte and the Arizona Diamondbacks agreed to a five-year, $76 million extension. The deal will keep the star second baseman in Arizona through 2027, with a team option for the 2028 season. Marte, 28, hit .318/.377/.532 last year and accumulated 2.9 fWAR over just 90 games. Since the beginning of the 2019 season, his 10.3 fWAR is the third-most among second basemen.
  • Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts said that Tony Gonsolin and Andrew Heaney will open the season in the team’s starting rotation. Tyler Anderson will be pitching out of the bullpen in a piggyback role.
  • A reunion is coming in St. Louis. Late Sunday night, the Cardinals signed Albert Pujols to a one-year, $2.5 million deal. Pujols will likely serve as the team’s primary DH against left-handed starters. With 679 career home runs, Pujols will have the chance to chase 700 with the team he spent the first 11 years of his career with.
  • The Red Sox optioned centerfield prospect Jarren Duran to Triple-A on Sunday. Durran struggled in limited MLB action last season but was having a strong spring showing so far.
  • Braves’ manager Brian Snitker announced that Huascar Ynoa and Kyle Wright are currently the frontrunners to earn the two open spots in Atlanta’s rotation.
  • Nick Ahmed will undergo an MRI after experiencing discomfort in his shoulder recently. He’s already received a platelet-rich plasma injection and a cortisone shot.
  • Rays’ reliever Pete Fairbanks left Sunday’s outing with right lat tightness. He’ll go through testing Monday to determine the extent of the injury.

 

Top Hitting Performances

 

Brandon Lowe (2B, Tampa Bay Rays): 2-for-2, HR, 5 RBI, 2 R, BB

The Rays put nine runs on the scoreboard against the Orioles during Friday’s game, and over half of those were knocked in by Brandon Lowe. The 27-year-old second baseman had a perfect day at the plate, reaching all three times via a home run, single, and walk. Lowe broke out in 2021 with 39 home runs and is looking to build on last year’s strong showing.

 

Riley Adams (C, Washington Nationals): 2-for-2, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB

Riley Adams ordered two of everything on Friday – two home runs, two RBI, and two runs scored. Oh, and he also walked once, finishing off a perfect day at the plate against the Cardinals. After being dealt to the Washington Nationals at last year’s trade deadline, Adams had a phenomenal end to the season. He hit .268/.422/.465 over 90 MLB plate appearances in Washington. He’ll start the season backing up Keibert Ruiz, but if any of that small sample success from last year continues, he’ll force himself into regular playing time.

 

Jo Adell (OF, Los Angeles Angels): 2-for-2, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB, 2 SB

The former top prospect did it all on Saturday. Jo Adell reached base three times, hit a home run, and stole two bases. Saturday’s strong performance continued a strong spring for Adell, an encouraging sign for Angels’ fans and fantasy managers alike. Adell’s prospect pedigree hasn’t translated to big league success yet, but that could change this season if his spring showing is any indication of how he’ll play.

 

Andrew McCutchen (OF, Milwaukee Brewers): 2-for-2, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R

The 2013 NL MVP found a new team this offseason in the Milwaukee Brewers, and he’s quickly made an impression. Andrew McCutchen sent two solo shots out of American Family Fields of Phoenix on Saturday. Both home runs were off Mariners’ starter Chris Flexen, a positive sign that McCutchen wasn’t just teeing off against lower levels of competition. Even at 35-years-old, McCutchen still has a lot to offer with the bat. He hit 27 home runs last year for the Phillies, and if he can replicate that level of success in 2022, he’ll play a big role for the Milwaukee Brewers as they look to defend their NL Central title.

 

Rafael Devers (3B, Boston Red Sox): 2-for-3, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R

Rafael Devers was ready for the Red Sox division rival Rays on Saturday, hitting two home runs against one of the newest members of the Tampa Bay rotation, Corey Kluber. The home runs were the second and third of the spring for the 2021 All-Star. Devers hit 38 home runs in 2021, and his 81 big flys since 2019 are the 12th most in baseball.

 

Yoshi Tsutsugo (1B/DH, Pittsburgh Pirates): 3-for-3 RBI, R, BB

Although he didn’t hit any long balls, Yoshi Tsutsugo’s performance on Saturday was great to see. He reached base four times in the Pirates’ loss and continued his strong Spring Training. Tsutsugo came over to MLB from Japan in 2020 and struggled mightily in his first big league season – understandably, considering everything going on in the world and the weird MLB season that unfolded. His struggles continued through most of 2021 during his time with the Rays and Dodgers, but once he ended up in Pittsburgh, he flourished. Tsutsugo hit .268/.347/.535 in 144 plate appearances. He should get ample playing time in Pittsburgh this year, and big things could be in store.

 

Lane Thomas (OF, Washington Nationals): 2-for-2 HR, 2 RBI, R, BB

Lane Thomas is fighting for the Nationals’ starting centerfield job this spring, and Saturday’s performance should help his cause. He reached base in all three plate appearances, hit a home run off David Peterson, and knocked in two runs. Thomas broke out in a big way after a trade sent him to the Nationals at the deadline last year. He hit .270/.364/.489 with seven home runs and four steals from August onward.

 

Justin Turner (3B, Los Angeles Dodgers): 2-for-2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, BB

The Dodgers’ veteran third baseman doesn’t look like he’s slowing down in his late thirties. Justin Turner took Royals’ starter Brady Singer deep in the first inning, walked in the third, and added a single in the sixth. The 37-year-old is looking ready for another great season manning the hot corner in Los Angeles.

 

Cody Bellinger (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers): 0-for-4, 4K

Saturday was a day to forget for Cody Bellinger. The former MVP earned the undesirable golden sombrero by striking out four times against the Royals. After a very disappointing 2021, it would be nice to see Bellinger flash some of his immense potential this spring, but so far he’s struck out in 14 of his 19 at-bats.

 

Aaron Judge (OF, New York Yankees): 3-for-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R

Yankees’ fans saw a familiar sight on Sunday – Aaron Judge mashing baseballs over the outfield wall. The star outfielder finished the day with two home runs just days after news broke that the Yankees would be offering him a long-term contract before Opening Day. Yankees’ fans may be enjoying these kinds of mammoth shots off Judge’s bat for years to come.

 

Bryce Harper (OF, Philadelphia Phillies): 3-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R

The Phillies may have brought in some new big bats to their lineup this offseason, but the one who will really make the Philadelphia offense go is still reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper. He committed lefty-on-lefty crime twice on Sunday, going deep off new Blue Jays starter Yusei Kikuchi two times.

 

Francisco Lindor (SS, New York Mets): 3-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R

Francisco Lindor was pounding the baseball on Sunday – all three of his hits came off the bat at 104 mph or faster. Two of his three hits left the park, and he did it from both sides of the plate. The Mets’ shortstop is looking for a bounceback season after a somewhat down campaign during his first year in New York.

 

Ryan O’Hearn (OF, Kansas City Royals): 3-for-3, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R

The Royals and Cubs were in a shootout Sunday, scoring a total of 25 runs. Although the Royals didn’t end up on top at the end of the day, it certainly wasn’t for lack of effort from Ryan O’Hearn. The 28-year-old lefty-swinger hit two home runs on the day and reached base in all three of his at-bats.

 

Patrick Wisdom (3B, Chicago Cubs): 2-for-2, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R

On the Cubs’ side of things in their high-scoring affair with the Royals on Sunday, Patrick Wisdom hit two balls out of the park. The 30-year-old third baseman has immense raw power and put it on display last year with the Cubs, hitting 28 home runs in 106 games.

 

Luis Robert (OF, Chicago White Sox): 2-for-3, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R

The young White Sox centerfielder flashed his power stroke against the Dodgers on Sunday. He launched two home runs on Sunday and knocked in four runs in the White Sox 9-0 victory. A torn hip flexor sidelined Robert for an extended period last year. Once he recovered, he took the league by storm, hitting .349/.388/.623 from his return on August 10th until the end of the regular season.

 

Top Pitching Performances

 

Dylan Bundy (SP, Minnesota Twins): 3 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 4 K

Dylan Bundy made quick work of the Pirates on Friday, getting through three innings on 36 pitches, 27 of which were strikes. He struck out four batters and had a total CSW% of 42 %. This will be Bundy’s first season in Minnesota, and he should be a big part of the Twins rotation likely slotting in second behind another offseason acquisition, Sonny Gray.

 

Luis Severino (SP, New York Yankees): 1.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB

Two spring training starts, two bad outings for Luis Severino. On Friday against the Phillies, he couldn’t get out of the second inning. Severino was hit hard and struggled to find the zone – not a winning combination. He allowed four of the game’s 11 hardest-hit balls and also walked four. This will be the first year that Severino is entering a season healthy since 2018, so he’s shaking off a lot of rust.

 

Tarik Skubal (SP, Detroit Tigers): 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K

Tigers’ lefty Tarik Skubal flashed both good and bad in his matchup against the Blue Jays on Friday. He started things off by allowing hits to three of the first four batters of the game, including two doubles and two runs to score. After that, he settled down retiring five straight batters, before getting into some hot water and being pulled in the third inning. On the day, Skubal induced eight whiffs and posted a 32% CSW%. Fantasy Central on Twitter pointed out how he displayed improved location with his four-seamer.

 

Dylan Cease (SP, Chicago White Sox): 3 IP, H, ER, BB, 5 K

One of last year’s biggest breakout pitchers looked strong in his Friday outing against the Mariners. Dylan Cease tossed three innings of one-run ball, striking out five of the 11 batters he faced. The Mariners sent out most of their starters, so Cease wasn’t just mowing down overmatched batters. This was Cease’s first appearance of the spring, so he’ll look to build off a strong outing as Opening Day quickly approaches.

 

Corey Kluber (SP, Tampa Bay Rays): 3.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 4 K

Corey Kluber’s first outing as a Ray didn’t go to plan. The veteran righty surrendered six hits to the Red Sox in Saturday’s action, including three home runs. A silver lining – Kluber didn’t issue any walks, an encouraging sign after he posted a career-high walk rate last year. Kluber will have a couple more outings to get ready for the season before the start of the regular season.

 

Joe Ryan (SP, Minnesota Twins): 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

After a strong 26.2 inning debut last year, Joe Ryan continued to look good in his Sunday outing against the Red Sox. The Twins’ rookie made it through three innings of no-hit ball, walking one, and striking out five. He leaned heavily on his fastball, throwing it 63% of the time, inducing four whiffs, and earning seven called strikes.

 

Charlie Morton (SP, Atlanta Braves): 4.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

Charlie Morton made his Spring Training debut against the Rays on Sunday, and he didn’t disappoint. The 38-year-old righty struck out five batters while allowing just one baserunner over 4.2 innings. There wasn’t much concern about his recovery from fracturing his right fibula in last year’s World Series, but it was still nice to see the veteran look like the ace he is.

 

Jesús Luzardo (SP, Miami Marlins): 4 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, BB, 5 K

Jesús Luzardo made waves throughout baseball Twitter after he flashed improved velocity during his first Spring Training start last week. Good news – that velocity bump was still present in his second outing, as his four-seam fastball averaged 97.3 mph against the Astros on Sunday. His curveball looked great too, inducing eight whiffs on the day, helping him to five strikeouts over his four innings.

 

Gerrit Cole (SP, New York Yankees): 2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, BB, 5 K

It wasn’t a fun Sunday for Yankees’ ace Gerrit Cole. He was hit hard, giving up two home runs in his Spring Training debut against the Pirates. On the plus side, Cole did still have his strikeout game working – five of his six outs came via the punch out. Cole tossed 50 pitches as he gets ready to toe the rubber on Opening Day in the Bronx.

 

Jacob deGrom (SP, New York Mets): 3IP, 4 H, ER, 5K

The Mets looked like they were trying to win Game 7 of the World Series on Sunday, marching out both Jacob deGrom and top offseason acquisition Max Scherzer in the same game. deGrom took the first three innings and struck out five while allowing one run on four hits. Most importantly, he looks healthy. His fastball was touching his usual upper-90s and his CSW% was 27% on the day.

 

Max Scherzer (SP, New York Mets): 6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, BB, 7 K

The second half of baseball’s filthiest duo looked like he was ready for Opening Day to be Sunday. Max Scherzer went a full six innings and got his pitch count all the way up to 90. The Cardinals managed to plate three runs against the deGrom/Scherzer duo, but I think they could maybe use a day off on Monday. Facing those two in the same game is just unfair.

 

Matt Brash (SP, Seattle Mariners): 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 6K

Mariners’ right-handed pitching prospect Matt Brash looked phenomenal against the A’s on Sunday. He pitched three perfect innings and struck out six of the nine batters he faced. Brash hasn’t pitched above the Double-A level yet, but he looked great against Oakland’s MLB squad over the weekend.

 

Yu Darvish (SP, San Diego Padres): 4 IP, 2 H, ER, 4 K

Yu Darvish had his stuff working against the Guardians on Sunday afternoon, punching out four batters through four innings. Darvish is looking to rebound after a somewhat disappointing first season in San Diego, and his 10 strikeouts through seven spring innings is a good place to start.

 

What to Watch for Today

 

 

Graphic by Michael Packard (@artbyMikeP on Twitter & IG)

Mark Steubinger

Mark loves everything talking and writing about baseball - from fantasy leagues to the legitimate defensive prowess of Kyle Schwarber as a left fielder. Mark has a degree in Sports Communication from Bradley University and works in radio production. He lives in central Illinois where his TV is permanently tuned to Chicago Cubs games.

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