• From Nick Madrigal on his “leg fatigue” (glute area, not hamstring) that led to him being scratched (Marquee): “It wasn’t anything alarming or too bad. I was going through my normal warm-up progression and I’ve had that before. Some tightness early on and as I got warm, it would kinda go away. Yesterday, it was just lingering around. I started to run some bases and they saw me not 100% normal so then they immediately pulled me out. That was really it …. I told them I could go, it was just one of those things where they were saying just get right for the regular season. There’s gonna be some talks throughout the season to be smart about it. My ultimate goal is to be out there every day but I know it was a big surgery.” Because of the way the body works together, especially after a major surgery, it would be unsurprising if there were related effects in other areas of his body/legs. Just take the rest when it’s necessary, and don’t risk anything.
• Kyle Hendricks mentioned that he was trying to focus on his down-and-away fastball in his final spring outing, and Sahadev Sharma gets into it in much more detail here:
David Ross makes it official, Kyle Hendricks will make his third straight Opening Day start for the Cubs. A look at what Hendricks is doing to put a rough 2021 behind him https://t.co/SmjIhCBgH8
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) April 2, 2022
• What’s tricky for Hendricks is that the elevated two-seamer/sinker – at the top of the zone – has become this new, weirdly effective vogue pitch (especially for the Cubs). Hitters, who have trained for years to crush the low sinker, just do not handle those weird elevated sinkers very well. But if you don’t get it way up, then all you’ve done is throw a sinker belt high, and there is probably no more tasty pitch in all of baseball for lefty batters than an 88 mph belt-high sinker. Moreover, if you’ve suddenly trained batters that you’re working more up with your fastball, then your low changeups are much easier to spit on. So, then, whether this means Hendricks will abandon his work at the top of the zone remains to be seen. But you will hopefully see him locating down and a way muuuuch better this year.
• That all sounds good and easy, of course, but there are mechanics to perfect, velocity to maintain, a curveball to work in, scouting reports to consider, and on and on. Even if Hendricks is bouncing back from last year, it might take a minute for us to be able to tell. And some of those first inning homers? Well, that is still going to happen. It’s just part of what comes with Hendricks’ style, unfortunately. You just hope the rest makes up for it this year.
• A random but hopefully useful #ad heads up as you consider your listening options for baseball season – just saw that various AirPods are on a huge sale on Amazon today.
• Maybe I was too quick to say the new CBA rules designed to address service time manipulation weren’t going to work? In the last 24 hours, we’ve learned that Bobby Witt Jr. is making the Royals’ Opening Day roster, Spencer Torkelson is making the Tigers’ Opening Day roster, and Matt Brash is making the Mariners’ Opening Day roster. Time was, all three of those guys would’ve been held down to open the season – Brash has not pitched in a game above Double-A, Torkelson has only one pro season under his belt in the minors, and Witt was a high school draftee who has only one FULL pro season. Those are guys who – despite pretty clearly being ready to impact the big leagues – would have plausibly been held down a month or so before being called up. It would’ve been normal. Yet here they are, all three making the Opening Day rosters (which will give their teams a shot at an extra draft pick if they finish in the top three of ROY voting this year, or top five of MVP/CY voting over the next few years). Good for the players, and good on those three teams.
This is great: Spencer Torkelson shared how he found out he made the #Tigers Opening Day roster.
AJ Hinch called him into his office to talk about the infield play where he ran into Javier Baez… then told him he made the team. Torkelson said Miguel Cabrera gave him a big hug. pic.twitter.com/u8VqdjGbNH
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) April 2, 2022
• The Tigers might’ve done it with two prospects if not for this:
Riley Greene has a fractured right foot. Injury won’t require surgery, but he’s in a boot and won’t be ready to open season, AJ Hinch said.
— Jason Beck (@beckjason) April 2, 2022
• Such a bummer for Greene, who was looking like the stud everyone expects him to be, and who could help the Tigers really break out (that’s a fun, young team, plus El Mago). Seems like there should be an allowance in that CBA rule for players like Greene who are injured and CAN’T make an Opening Day roster. Maybe there is an allowance, like, if you hit the big league roster as soon as you’re rehabbed and eligible, you still get credit? Because if not, then you’ve just created an incentive for the Tigers to not call up Greene until next year. (They won’t actually wait that long, I don’t think, because Greene is just too good; but other prospects in other situations? It could happen.)
• No reason not to stick to this position publicly, even if his arm literally fell off:
Jacob deGrom says he is still definitely going to opt out of his contract at season's end, despite this most recent injury and the time he'll miss because of it.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) April 3, 2022
• Normal stuff:
Jose Quintana is on turn to be #Pirates opening day starter.
Albert Pujols will be DH on opening day at Busch Stadium. Likely batting 5th. https://t.co/nqL4hwnuwk
— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) April 3, 2022