Alumni Spring Training Notes

Tidbits on Ex-Rattlers Spring Training gets rolling

Adam McCalvy from

Morris leading contender to replace Gamel

Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash characterized 24-year-old prospect Hunter Morris as a “strong candidate” to begin the season in the Majors after losing another first baseman to a significant injury Monday.

With Corey Hart already sidelined for at least the first month by a right knee injury, the Brewers lost Mat Gamel for the 2013 season when he re-tore his right ACL over the weekend. Ash and GM Doug Melvin said they would examine a list of internal candidates that includes Morris, shortstop Alex Gonzalez, utility man Taylor Green and non-roster invitee Bobby Crosby before looking outside the organization.

“Clearly it’s Plan C, and the good news is there are enough individuals in camp that can and have played first base,” Ash said. “Of course, one of our players of the year last year, Hunter Morris, had a great year in Double-A, and he’ll be a strong candidate. I know [manager Ron Roenicke] has talked to Alex Gonzalez about playing some there, and Taylor Green has played some there. I think our internal options are still pretty good, and we’ll go that way, at least in the short term.”

A humble Morris vowed to go about his business as usual.

“It’s a big jump [from Double-A to the big leagues], and us talking about it doesn’t mean I’m going to get the job,” Morris said. “I have to go out and I have to earn it and I have to do a lot of things extraordinary. Doing that also comes with not putting too much pressure on myself. I’ll be playing baseball somewhere this year, I don’t know where it will be.”

He added: “Opportunities arise in the game all the time, and it’s up to me to take advantage of it. But you don’t wish [injury] on another player — ever.”

Also from Adam:

Bucci withdraws from World Baseball Classic

Bucci…withdrew from Team Canada after his pre-camp physical exam revealed what he called a minor shoulder injury. Bucci characterized his decision to skip the tournament as precautionary.

“Definitely, my passion is with Team Canada, but honestly, having it nipped now is the best thing for me so I can start the season healthy and go from there,” the 22-year-old said.

Bucci said he felt similar aggravation in his shoulder at this time last year, and he eventually developed a lat injury that delayed his debut until July 18.

He was not sure when he would be cleared to return to the mound.

In other organizations:

From Dennis Maffezzoli of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:

Odorizzi on display throwing live batting practice

RH Jake Odorizzi threw batting practice for the first time under the watchful eyes of many.

“It went pretty good,” Odorizzi said. “My main goal was just to throw strikes. A few pitches got up. It is always nice to get back on the field.”

“I’m seeing good makeup,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “I’m seeing the calm demeanor, even when he is out there. When you speak to him, you get the same thing and then you watch him and it’s the same thing.”

Maddon was one of many who watched Odorizzi’s 10-minute session. Executive Vice President Andrew Friedman and a number of the starting pitchers were behind the batting cage.

“Just kind of tunnel vision, the same as the game,” Odorizzi said on not being distracted by all the attention. “I take the same mentality, try to block everything out. That’s what I was trying to do today. There are going to be people watching you the first time. I just tried to go out there and not do anything different.”

Also from Rays camp The Lakeland Ledger has this on Juan Sandoval and how he would sign with Tampa

Veteran pitcher Joel Peralta had already taken an unusual step when he called Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman directly this winter to recommend the team sign a 30-something reliever who’d been impressive in the Dominican Republic.

“I told him this could be pretty good,” Peralta said. “But I told him this is the catch: He’s only got one eye.”

Friedman paused, understandably, asked for a few details, then told Peralta to keep talking. A few more conversations and an emailed video produced a minor-league deal.

And, if it were to work out, what a remarkable story it would be: Juan Sandoval, completely blind in his right eye, pitching in the major leagues.

Sandoval had been on track previously, showing promise during five seasons in the Mariners organization and getting to the Double-A level. Then in February 2006, a wrong-place/wrong-time incident changed his life, cost him the use of his right eye and certainly could have ended his career.

Greg Johns from on Michael Saunders

Saunders comes out swinging in live BP

As usual on the first day of live hitting, most batters just tracked the ball and rarely swung as they worked to see pitches and get their timing down. But a few players, including outfielder Michael Saunders, jumped right in and took some healthy hacks from the get-go.

Saunders said the condensed early schedule this year — with Cactus League games already beginning Friday due to the impending World Baseball Classic — has him on fast forward.

“I just heard today we’re not doing any intrasquads since we’re starting games earlier,” Saunders said. “This is something I definitely need to take seriously to get the timing back as quick as possible. When you see live pitchers, you really know you’re in Spring Training again. It was fun today.”

This note at the Tacoma News-Tribune informs us that Saunders and Alex Liddi were two of four Mariners to sign one year contracts today.

A couple of notes on David Ortiz. (Warning: Autoplay Video at both Oritz links)  

First NESN has video of a Red Sox beanbag competition.  Apparently Andrew Bailey hit the “Shot of the Century” to beat Big Papi in the Beautyrest Baggo Classic.

And from ComcastSports New England, Ortiz sees himself following in Pedro’s footsteps

David Ortiz isn’t retiring this season or next, but when he does finally decide to hang them up, can he see himself sticking around like so many Red Sox greats have?

“Probably. Probably,” Ortiz said. “I mean, I can count myself as a Red Sox for life, you know what I’m saying? I’m always down with helping out and getting the Red Sox better.”

Kansas City Star has this on Lorenzo Cain

[Cain’s] first reaction Sunday was disbelief after feeling a twinge on the top of his right hand while working in the batting cage. The soreness is not believed to be serious but the Royals, as a precaution, pulled him from regular batting practice.

“I think I’m fine,” Cain said, “but I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m getting it looked at later.”

Jorge Castillo of The Newark Star Ledger notes that Scott Atchison is part of the Mets bullpen overhaul.

The two relief pitchers, each approaching middle age, embraced in the middle of the clubhouse, one of several introductions throughout the Mets’ spring training complex on the day pitchers and catchers were due to undergo their annual physicals.

“You got gray hair!” the 40-year-old, and bald, LaTroy Hawkins exclaimed.

“Too much, man,” replied the soon-to-be-37 Scott Atchison, salt dominating the pepper on his head.

The two have 36 years of professional baseball between them. Seeking to prolong their careers, they both signed minor-league contracts with the Mets because they were promised an opportunity to break camp on the 25-man roster. The Mets offered opportunity because general manager Sandy Alderson’s first bullpen overhaul, an aggressive revamping, imploded last season.

Scott Atchison in Mets camp.  (Photo Credit: John Munson/The Star-Ledger)

Scott Atchison in Mets camp. (Photo Credit: John Munson/The Star-Ledger)

More later on how these guys and other Rattler Alumni are doing.

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