OUTColby Rasmus OF TB 4 hours ago
Rasmus (groin) could be held out of early spring training games according to manager Kevin Cash, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
After a pair of October surgeries that addressed core muscle and hip issues, Rasmus will be handled with care early spring training. The veteran slugger slashed just .206/.286/.355 with the Astros in 2016, but did smack 10 doubles and 15 homers, while also driving in 54 runs. He's projected to slot in as both a left fielder and designated hitter in the coming season for the Rays.
OUTLogan Morrison 1B/DH TB 4 hours ago
Morrison (wrist) could be held out of early spring training games according to manager Kevin Cash, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Morrison returned to the Rays on a one-year, $2.5 million deal on Feb. 7, and with wrist surgery having curtailed the final month of his 2016 campaign, Morrison is a candidate to be brought along slowly in the exhibition slate. The veteran first baseman is expected to platoon with veteran Richie Weeks in 2017 and will look to build on his .238/.319/.414 line from last season.
OUTMatt Duffy SS/3B TB 4 hours ago
Duffy (heel) could be held out of early spring training games according to manager Kevin Cash, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
The 26-year-old shortstop will be a pivotal piece of the Rays infield in the coming season, so the team may unsurprisingly tread carefully with him early on. Duffy appeared in 21 games for Tampa last season after coming over at the trade deadline from San Francisco, slashing .258/.310/.357 with 14 doubles, two triples, five homers and 28 RBI over a combined 366 plate appearances.
OUTNathan Eovaldi SP TB 4 hours ago
Eovaldi (elbow) reported no setbacks a day after playing catch for the first time following Tommy John surgery, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
The 27-year-old righty, who is expected to miss the entire 2017 campaign, took a small but important step in the long road to recovery with the initial throwing session. The Rays plan to keep him on a schedule of every-other-day catch regimen for the time being.
OUTSteven Souza Jr. RF TB 4 hours ago
Souza, who was playing his best baseball in September before season-ending hip surgery, is facing a pivotal season in 2017, Mike Nabors of MLB.com reports. "I'm my biggest critic," Souza admits. "I know what my flaws are, and I try to improve them every year. For me, it's just consistency, trying to find avenues to explore that and be consistent day in and day out."
The 27-year-old slugger was slashing .327/.407/.577 with four homers and six RBI over 52 at-bats in September before his season ended. Souza did set career highs in doubles (17), homers (17), RBI (49), average (.247) and slugging (.409) in 2016, but it was another high-water mark of a much more dubious nature, strikeouts, that leaves plenty of room for improvement in the coming season. Souza fanned 159 times, leading to a 34 percent strikeout rate. For Souza, who felt increased pressure after being a centerpiece of the trade between the Padres and Rays that saw All-Star Wil Myers head to San Diego, the key will be trying to stay within himself, as he seemed to be doing before his season's abrupt end. "I think you start listening to a lot of who you should be and forget who you really are," said Souza. "A lot [of hype] about my power, I think coming over here, [saw me] trying to do too much and hit 70 home runs in one year, which is just ridiculous. One of the biggest things that was instrumental in my career was trying not to do so much and be a hitter. That's all I'm trying to do is get back to that."
Ryan Merritt RP CLE 7 hours ago
Merritt will likely begin the 2017 campaign as a starting pitcher for Triple-A Columbus, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports.
Merritt appeared in four regular season games for the Tribe in 2016, but only one of those was as a starter (he also picked up a start in the post season). With no open spots in the rotation, the only option for Merritt to make the Opening Day roster would be as a reliever. However, the 24-year-old southpaw is a natural starter, and the wise decision is to not derail him from his projected path. Merritt will almost certainly pick up a handful of spot starts for the Indians in 2017, but projects to have a much bigger role in the foreseeable future. The crafty Merritt is well-suited for dynasty drafts.
Corey Kluber SP CLE 7 hours ago
Kluber, who will be on a strict limit this spring, may not be ready to start on Opening Day, Tom Withers of the Associated Press reports.
Manager Terry Francona isn't ready to name his ace the Opening Day starter, and said the club is "slowing" the right-hander down early in camp. "If he's not ready for Game 1, we can adjust," Francona added. Although it's unclear how serious Francona is -- and it's extremely hard to imagine Kluber won't take the hill on Opening Day -- it's not difficult to read between the lines on the manager's message. Playoffs included, Kluber has logged more than 700 innings over the last three years, and Francona is making it clear that he'll protect Kluber's arm this season. He's still an elite fantasy option, but his value could take a slight hit if Kluber won't be guaranteed another 215-plus innings and multiple opportunities to notch complete games (he's had 10 over the last three years).
Robert Andino 2B MIA 8 hours ago
Andino will receive an extra look this spring while J.J. Hardy continues to deal with lower back problems, Rich Dubroff of Pressbox reports.
The veteran will get a chance to show he's still got something left in the tank as he embarks on his 11th MLB season. With Hardy's lingering back issues and Manny Machado playing in the World Baseball Classic, Andino should get a fair chance to usurp Ryan Flaherty for the team's backup infielder role. Andino's most productive season came as an Oriole in 2011, but even that wasn't much of a fantasy-worthy campaign. The 32-year-old is a longshot to move up the depth chart before Opening Day, but Andino's extra at-bats this spring are worth a glance.
Ryan Flaherty SS/3B BAL 8 hours ago
Flaherty will get some extra work during spring training, and has an outside chance at starting on Opening Day, while J.J. Hardy continues to deal with lower back problems, Rich Dubroff of Pressbox reports.
Flaherty will be spotlighted this spring as Hardy rehabs and third baseman Manny Machado plays in the World Baseball Classic. The O's super-utility man is a favorite of manager Buck Showalter and, with a good spring, might be able to make a case for more at-bats this season. There's no timetable for Hardy's recovery just yet, and although it doesn't seem to be a major concern, Hardy has proven to be injury-prone throughout his six seasons as an Oriole. Flaherty won't light it up offensively, but his multi-position eligibility makes him an intriguing add in deeper leagues.
Logan Verrett P BAL 8 hours ago
Verrett is among the candidates to replace Chris Tillman (shoulder) in the rotation to open 2017, Rich Dubroff of Pressbox reports.
Tillman isn't expected to miss much time, but it may Verrett's only window of opportunity for quite a while. He'll compete with a handful of others that includes Tyler Wilson, Mike Wright and Gabriel Ynoa for the rotation's temporary opening. Verrett had terrible numbers in 12 starts for the Mets last season. He went 1-6 with a 6.45 ERA and 1.62 WHIP while opponents tagged the right-hander for a .916 OPS in those outings. The 26-year-old has had success as a starter in the minors, putting together a .686 winning percentage and a 3.93 ERA over five seasons. A good showing this spring could earn Verrett a chance not only to open 2017 as part of the rotation, but may also put him on the radar for future starts if others (specifically Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley) stumble early in the campaign.