Welcome to the Spring Training recap for February 22! Every day throughout Spring Training we’ll be providing a rundown of the top news and performances from the previous day’s games, and highlighting things to watch for in today’s matchups. A few postponements and cancellations robbed us of a full slate of games yesterday, but we still have a good amount of action to dive into.
- Yankees starter James Paxton will begin throwing in roughly 10 days, putting him ahead of schedule for his rehab from back surgery.
- Brewers shortstop Luis Urias has been cleared to begin baseball activities after surgery for a hamate injury.
- Lucas Giolito threw a bullpen and felt “100%” after experiencing chest discomfort a few weeks back.
- Julio Urias will begin the year in the Dodgers’ rotation.
- Jack Flaherty will be the Cardinals’ Opening Day starter.
- Mookie Betts will bat leadoff for the Dodgers this season.
Top Hitting Performances
Muncy was in midseason form yesterday, reaching base in all three of his plate appearances and swatting a homer in the third inning. He drew the start at second base, batting second. Should he become a fixture in that second spot in the loaded Dodgers lineup this year, his on-base skills could help him post an elite number of runs scored.
Alford entered the game in place of Randal Grichuk and immediately made his presence known, singling and stealing second, third, and home in quick succession. Though Alford has yet to show he can handle himself with the bat at the major league level, Toronto’s center field situation is fairly unsettled, and he could work his way into the conversation with more dynamic performances like this.
Benintendi batted leadoff in this game, singling in his second at-bat and stealing second base. This was an encouraging start to the spring for Benintendi, who stole just 10 bases last year after swiping 21 in 2018.
Barreto drew the start at second base and drove in a run. He’s competing with Jorge Mateo and Tony Kemp for the starting second base job in Oakland, and will likely need to string together a series of performances like this to prove he’s the team’s best option at the position.
Top prospect Alec Bohm entered yesterday’s game at third base, singling twice in his three plate appearances. Bohm impressed during his first taste of AA last year, and the Phillies could shift Scott Kingery to the outfield at some point this season once Bohm has shown he’s ready to make the jump to the majors.
Tyler O’Neill (OF, St. Louis Cardinals): 1-for-2, HR
O’Neill started in left field and went deep off of Marcus Stroman to open the scoring for the Cardinals. He’s likely competing with Tommy Edman this spring for a starting spot in the St. Louis outfield.
Carpenter went 2-for-2 in this game, and notably drove one of his hits to the opposite field:
Announcer: “Matt Carpenter in batting practice was taking everything to left field….everything”
Carpenter was in the top 30 most shifted players in ’19.
That’s very interesting to keep track of in ST. pic.twitter.com/d1HINP2Gh4
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) February 22, 2020
Here was our list of starters to watch from yesterday’s games:
SPs to watch today:
Flaherty – Still in rhythm?
Scherzer – Because he’s dope
Happ – FBs up/in to RHB
ReyLo – SL/CH mixed in well
AJ Puk – FB command & is Changeup there?
Thornton – Anything new to get excited about?
Felix – Is he Good?
Keller/Pivetta/Smeltzer – Not on TV 😢
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) February 22, 2020
And here’s how some of them fared:
Flaherty was dominant in his first spring outing. He whiffed two batters with his slider and one with a high fastball, and seemed completely in control during his two innings of work.
Though the results weren’t official since the game was ultimately rained out, Scherzer managed to get his work in and looked sharp, topping out at 98 mph and throwing 13 of his 22 pitches for strikes.
With Luis Severino’s future still up in the air, Happ did his best to help ease fans’ concerns about the Yankee rotation, turning in two perfect innings in his spring debut and generating two called strikeouts.
It was a short but fruitful outing for Puk, who struck out Kris Bryant on three pitches to begin the bottom of the first inning. Expect more outings like this to continue to inflate Puk’s stock, especially given the announcement that he would not be on a strict innings limit this year.
Thornton worked around a leadoff walk to D.J. LeMahieu in the first inning, retiring six straight batters despite less-than-overpowering stuff. He likely has an inside track on the fifth spot in the Toronto rotation.
It wasn’t a great start for Pivetta, who some people have touted as a sleeper this year after he changed his training regimen and worked on refining his mechanics in the offseason. On the one hand, he didn’t allow any home runs–something he’s been notorious for. On the other hand, he was roughed up by the lowly Detroit Tigers.
Felix Hernandez (SP, Atlanta Braves): 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks
This was an excellent Braves debut for King Felix, though it should be taken with a grain of salt, as he was facing the Orioles. Still, more outings like this could help him secure a rotation spot with the ailing Cole Hamels slated to miss the start of the season.
What to Watch for Today
SPs to watch today:
Listen to reports of Cease’s command and let’s imagine good things together.
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) February 23, 2020
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)