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Welcome to The Stew’s Spring Headlines, our daily look at the biggest MLB stories and news items from around spring training. Here you’ll find a quick recap of all the day’s action and other fun stuff from around the internet that we think is worth your time.
BIGGEST NEWS OF THE DAY: The San Francisco Giants will be down a key member in the bullpen this season. Veteran left-hander Will Smith was diagnosed with a sprained UCL and has opted to undergo Tommy John surgery next week in Los Angeles. That means he’ll miss the entire 2017 season and will be questionable for spring training in 2018.
Smith, 26, has become one of the top left-handed relievers in all of baseball. He was acquired by San Francisco just ahead of the 2016 trade deadline and posted a 2.95 ERA over 26 appearances. He also struck out an impressive 26 batter in just 18.1 innings.
The Giants added a legit closer this winter in Mark Melancon, but were still counting on Smith to stabilize their bridge to the ninth inning. Now they’ll be left scrambling a bit to find consistent options in the seventh and eighth innings. It’s yet another reminder that teams can never have enough pitching depth. [@hankschulman]
ANOTHER ONE DOWN: The news was not great for the Detroit Tigers either. J.D. Martinez will be shut down for 3-4 weeks after being diagnosed with a sprained Lisfranc ligament in his right foot. Martinez will avoid surgery, but must wear a cast for 7-10 days. His return to baseball activities would come in mid-to-late April, which suggests the best-case scenario for returning to MLB action would be mid-May.
Martinez slashed .307/.373/.535 last season with 22 home runs, so his loss will be felt. Steven Moya will likely man right field while Martinez is out. [@cmccosky]
EXTENSION: The Cleveland Indians are close to locking up infielder Jose Ramirez with a four-year, $30M contract extension. The deal would also include two club options, giving the Tribe team control over Ramirez through the 2023. If both are exercised, the total guaranteed value would approach $50M. The 24-year-old Ramirez enjoyed a breakout season in 2016, hitting .312 with 11 homers, 76 RBIs and 84 runs scored. [Yahoo Sports]
WELCOME ABOARD: The Rays are close to signing veteran catcher Derek Norris to a one-year deal. Norris, 28, was released by the Washington Nationals last week. He was the odd man out once Washington signed Matt Wieters. Despite hitting just .186 last season, Norris should see fairly regular playing time until Wilson Ramos returns from his knee injury. [@TBrownYahoo]
ANNIVERSARY: On this date 16 years ago, Randy Johnson accidentally obliterated a bird with a fastball in spring training.
Sixteen years ago today, Randy Johnson vaporized a bird with a pitch pic.twitter.com/pxLCmL4dWA
— Josh Billinson (@jbillinson) March 24, 2017
OPENING DAY: Marlins manager Don Mattingly announced Edinson Volquez will serve as the team’s opening day starter. The veteran gets the nod over Adam Conley, who some feel earned the honor this spring. There will obviously be some extra emotion here as well given that this assignment would have undoubtedly been given to Jose Fernandez. [@JoeFrisaro]
MLB PREVIEW: Will this be the year the Washington Nationals finally put it all together? [The Stew]
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
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