Spring Training Recap 2022: March 31

Everything you need to know about Thursday's Spring Training games

Can you feel that? We are approaching the calendar turning to April and we are going to get meaningful baseball for the first time since the Atlanta Braves were crowned champions. REGULAR SEASON BASEBALL IS A WEEK AWAY TODAY. This moment feels even sweeter because it was not guaranteed. There are so many stories to watch develop over time and drama left to unfold. The best part of the early season is the unpredictability factor laced throughout the day-to-day conversation. What team will surprise pundits? Which players will take that next step and were advanced statistics able to predict those gains?

For now, we watch the pedals on the season bloom and enjoy the waning moments of Spring Training 2022. Here are Thursday’s highlights…

 

News

 

  • MLB offices made an announcement yesterday to introduce the newest reach for casual fans. They shared the creation of MLB Home Run Derby X which has been described as a brand new event that is scheduled to have a touring model scheduled throughout the globe. They plan on showing off this new event in larger cities such as London, Seoul, and Mexico City in 2022. According to initial reports, the Home Run Derby X will showcase MLB players of the past. Popular personalities will serve as ambassadors to increase the popularity of baseball. The initial list has included Adrián González, Jonny Gomes, Geovany Soto, and Nick Swisher. It is unclear if and when more players will be announced but this is evolving into something to watch if not for anything else than being different. (CBS Sports)
  • The long-rumored and anticipated event has a date that Yankee fans can circle on the calendar. The Yankees made the date official of when they plan to honor #2 at Yankee Stadium in a ceremony. The team will celebrate the career of Derek Jeter with a Hall of Fame Induction Tribute Night on Friday, September 9, 2022. Pomp and circumstance surely will ensue pregame as only the New York Yankees can provide on a big stage. This will surely be a well-deserved nod to the player affectionately referred to as the Captain and a huge part of five World Series Championships. (BleacherReport)
  • Zack Greinke was announced to be the Kansas City Royals‘ Opening Day Starter. The quirky vet will take the bump for Kansas City to try to get the 2022 season off to a good start.  Some history to behold to note on the nod. At 38 years, 168 days old, Zack Greinke becomes the most senior (oldest) Opening Day starting pitcher in Royals history. He overtakes Tim Belcher who was 36-years-old in 1998. (MLB)
  • San Diego and Pittsburgh have had a fervent discourse about trading Bryan Reynolds. A potential package of Chris Paddack and Ryan Weathers being sent back to the Pirates has been rumored as a potential return. Nothing official as of yet but something to look out for. (Bob Nightengale)
  • Toronto signed Dexter Fowler to a minor league deal combined with an invite to Spring Training. The Jays are looking to reinforce the depth in the outfield and Fowler could provide some veteran leadership for a team looking to compete for a championship. The 36-year-old is looking to bounce back after missing all of 2021 with an ACL injury. (SportsNet)
  • Kansas City announced that current manager Mike Matheny will continue as the manager through the 2023 season. The Royals released the news that they were planning on exercising the club option on his contract. (Kansas City Star)
  • Hunter Greene is starting the season with the Reds. In a bit of exciting news for beleaguered fans from the Queen City, the franchise’s top-ranked prospect was informed by David Bell that he will be hurling in the Show to start the 2022 campaign. Greene is slotted to pitch on Sunday, April 10 against the Braves in what should be appointment television for any baseball fan. (Cincinnati Inquirer)
  • John Means will take the bump for the Orioles’ opener against the Rays on the road on April 8. This move was more than expected as he emerged as the clear-cut ace throughout 2021. This will be his second consecutive Opening Day after and he is looking to build on his 2021 campaign. (Baltimore Sun)
  • Jacob deGrom is already battling the injury bug. According to Buck Showalter, he has a tight right shoulder and will be scratched from his start today. They are sending him for tests. Oh boy….(ESPN)

 

Top Hitting Performances

 

Bryce Harper (RF, Philadelphia Phillies): 1-for-3, R, HR, 2 RBI

The reigning National League MVP is picking up where he left off in 2021. Not including today’s slate, he is batting .333 with 4 HRs and 7 RBIs through 24 ABs. Harper is getting even more help to protect him in the lineup with the addition of Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber. That is a well-rounded lineup that has to intimidate pitchers.

 

Julio Rodríguez (CF, Seattle Mariners): 2-for-2, BB, 3 R, HR (inside the park)

Look at the speed on Julio! He is making a case for the Mariners to start the season with him patrolling the outfield in Seattle. Just another name to add to the exciting list of emerging young talent. Rodríguez looks to be more than dynamic, he is electric.

 

Luis Robert (CF, Chicago White Sox): 1-for-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI

Another team with pennant aspirations is relying on the production of Luis Robert. He has utilized Spring Training to get his swing in working order. He has done so pretty quickly and it seems like he is already in midseason form. At the ripe age of 24, it is remarkable to think that his potential has yet to be reached.

 

Randy Arozarena (LF, Tampa Bay Rays): 3-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI

Randy Arozarena burst onto the scene in the 2020 postseason where he became an instant superstar. He built on an ALCS MVP with a Rookie of the Year award in his first full season at the MLB level. With the talent and raw skill that Randy possesses, he has the chance to add more hardware to his mantle as soon as this year. Analytics do not seem to care about strikeouts as much as they used to but even those enamored with advanced statistics have to be concerned with his high strike-out rate. It shall be interesting to see if he can chop a bit off of those strike-out numbers in 2022.

 

Jared Walsh (1B, Los Angeles Angels): 3-for-4, R

The talent that no one seems to talk about. Buried in anonymity on his own team and market, Jared Walsh continues to be a talented player in Anaheim. Walsh had a sneaky 29 HRs in 2021 in just 144 games. There is a possibility that if he plays a full 162, that number jumps. That power surge could certainly be attributed to the coronation of the new Sultan of Swat, Shohei Ohtani. Either way, he is a fun player to watch if you are looking for a reason to stay up late for West Coast games.

 

Brandon Crawford (SS, San Francisco Giants): 3-for-4, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI

This guy is such a winner and fun to watch. Brandon Crawford might have straightened out his tough Spring thus far. Coming into this game batting .214, he boosted that number with a monster game at the plate. Entering his age 35 season, it is hard to believe that Crawford is now the wily veteran that some young players might have watched growing up. The years seem to fall away from the calendar because it seemed like yesterday that he was fighting for his spot in a World Series bound lineup.

 

Jorge Soler (LF, Miami Marlins): 2-for-3, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, BB

Jorge Soler continues to chase the 2019 campaign when he crushed 48 HRs. The Marlins know the potential in a generally risk-free accord so both sides know there is a lot to gain if he can get himself back to that level of play. The reigning World Series MVP finds a new home in sunny Miami but will remember his days in Atlanta forever when he looks down at his ring finger. He had quite the day today and showed glimpses of the player that scouts thought he would be as he was rising through the Chicago Cubs system all those years ago.

 

Jazz Chisholm Jr. (2B, Miami Marlins): 1-for-3, Grand Slam, 4 RBI

The smooth swing of Jazz crushed a grand slam today and this was the biggest highlight offensively for Thursday. Chisholm is an absolute spark plug and a blast to watch all over the field. He is the type of player that can attract fans to the game. Check out that swing!

 

Pitching Round-Up

 

Shohei Ohtani (SP, Los Angeles Angels): 3.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO

Whenever Ohtani takes the mound, it’s always appointment watching. He had spurts of being nasty as usual but was not his best for 3.1 IP. The walks were a bit of a problem today with 3 tallied. Ohtani has to get that under control if he wants to be as consistent on the mound as he is at the plate offensively.

 

Blake Snell (SP, San Diego Padres): 1.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 BB

I know it is Spring Training but it is more of the same worry about Blake Snell and what he has become as a pitcher for the San Diego Padres. Just another example of why Tampa Bay should be avoided at all costs when they call you to make a trade. Maybe Snell can find it this year but he certainly has not been the same since leaving St. Petersburg.

 

Hunter Greene (SP, Cincinnati Reds): 2.0 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 5 ER, BB, 4 SO, 2 HR

Uh-oh! The tale of two different days. Hunter Greene got great news yesterday and found out he would be joining the Reds on Opening Day. Today, he got absolutely pulverized in his appearance. Welcome to the big leagues, kid. This happens and it does not take away from what he has shown this Spring in spurts. However, it just shows that at this level, no matter how hard you throw, if you have difficulty locating, these lineups will make you pay.

 

Aaron Civale (SP, Cleveland Guardians): 4.0 IP, 2 H, ER, 7 SO

Aaron Civale was the stud today. He looked great only giving up 2 hits and striking out 7 of the 12 outs he made. Civale was circled on many draft boards in fantasy leagues as a potential breakout and with performances like today, why not? He looked great for the Guardians and those new Cleveland digs are pretty nice.

 

Alek Manoah (SP, Toronto Blue Jays:) 4.0 IP, H, 3 SO

The big Alek Manoah took the mound today and was every bit as good as you’d hope for a week out from the season. Manoah enters the season as the Blue Jays’ number four starter but they have the potential to help Toronto take the next step from contenders to champions. There are big things expected from the talented team north of the border and Manoah is part of that.

 

Jordan Hicks (RP, St. Louis Cardinals): 1.1, 2 SO

His performance does not jump out of the box score but if you saw the way he was pitching today, you’d want him listed here too. If he can be this guy for the Cards, the league may be in for a rude awakening.

 

What to Watch For Today

 

 

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

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