Big League Stew - MLB

Welcome to 'Duk's Dozen, a streamlined selection of 12 morning-fresh links and items to start your day. It welcomes submissions here or via Twitter.  

1. Apparently the towel drill is working as well for Brandon Webb(notes) as it did for Mark Prior. Nick Piecoro reports that it's increasingly likely that Webb will start the season on the disabled list because he's running out of time to log the necessary prep innings in spring training.

It'll be a big blow to the D'Backs if Webb's right shoulder continues acting up, though the team can rest a little bit easier knowing that those long-term extension talks never worked out. Arizona Republic

2. The other big DL news on Thursday came when Jose Reyes was told to rest anywhere from two to eight weeks because of his thyroid condition. That leaves the Mets' shortstop position to possibly be filled by Alex Cora(notes), the 34-year-old vet who caused about every Mets fan to grumble when the team signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract. Star-Ledger

3. The Joe Nathan(notes) mourning continues in Minneapolis, where fans are now somehow trying to convince themselves that losing the closer won't affect the team's win totals that much. They base this off Nathan's projected WAR of about 2.0, but I won't be talked into thinking it's more insignificant than we think. For one, Nathan's absence bumps every remaining reliever into a higher position in the bullpen. For two, those two wins in 2009 were absolutely necessary in forcing that one-game playoff with the Tigers. Twinkie Town

4. Back to the Mets for a second: I really enjoyed this article by R.J. Anderson that states his complete inability to trust the team in handling prospect Jenrry Mejia(notes). FanGraphs 

5. After a few recent concussions, Francisco Cervelli(notes) has been talked into giving the Great Gazoo helmet that David Wright made famous a spin. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think he's the first person to talk about wearing one this spring. LoHud Yankees

6. Brian Giles(notes) announced his retirement on Thursday and some folks decided to get cute and make a Hall of Fame case for him. I liked Eric Simon's approach better. Amazin' Avenue 

7. Halos Heaven calls up an old article about the time Jim Abbott hit a spring training triple off Rick Reuschel in 1991. Abbott actually had only 24 regular season plate appearances during his career — all coming with the Brewers in 1999 — ending up with two singles and 3 RBIs collected in different games against Jon Lieber(notes)HH

8. Todd Helton(notes) just signed a two-year extension that will likely allow him to retire as a Colorado Rockie. That's great news: Everything remains balanced in the universe and one of the '90s expansion teams has found its franchise-defining star. (You can't yet say the same for the Marlins — sorry Jeff Conine(notes) — D'Backs or Rays.)  MLB Trade Rumors 

9. Was I the only one not bored enough Thursday to bite on that bogus speculation about the Twins trading Joe Mauer(notes) for a package that includes a new closer? Sweet Spot

10. After Roy Halladay(notes) made it a non-issue for seven straight seasons, it looks like Shaun Marcum(notes) is leading the Blue Jays' Opening Day starter debate. Batter's Box 

11. Unfortunately for the current team, Toronto fans are already coming up with ways Bryce Harper could fall to the Blue Jays' 11th pick in the draft. Jays Journal 

12. Red had cooked up a delicious conspiracy theory that would have U2 playing a stand at Fenway near the end of July. But would the stage even fit inside the park? Surviving Grady 

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