Baseball's back! As we get closer to the regular season, stop by The Stew daily for a helping of spring storylines.
JOSE REYES IS HURT AGAIN, BUT THE GOOD NEWS IS it's not that bad, so exhale, Toronto Blue Jays fans. Reyes, who missed a good chunk of the Jays' disappointing 2013 season, had an MRI on Monday, which revealed a mild hamstring strain. He's currently day-to-day.
MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm has more details:
The 30-year-old has dealt with this type of injury before. He had two stints on the disabled list and missed 29 games during the 2011 season for a similar injury. Reyes also has missed a handful of games over the years because of hamstring issues, but his only other time on the disabled list with that injury came in 2004.
Toronto's hope was that the tightness would go away relatively quickly, but so far, that hasn't happened and the concern is that it could linger. There's a week for that to change, and until Reyes feels better, he's not going to push the issue.
"It's about the same; it's a little bit better, but there's still some tightness there," Reyes said when asked if he felt better than two days ago. "You don't want to take a risk with a hamstring. When you feel something, you have to back off a little bit because that's a tricky injury."
MORE BAD NEWS FOR THE RANGERS, as catcher Geovany Soto will miss 10-12 weeks with a tear in his right knee. His knee locked up on him Sunday, and he was forced to leave the Texas Rangers' game. The Rangers also lost second baseman Jurickson Profar for at least 10 weeks with a shoulder injury, as The Stew previously reported.
''We've lost two everyday players and there is no way to sugarcoat that,'' Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Monday. ''It is what it is. We'll look towards our depth and see where we go from here.''
To make matters worse, it sounds like Yu Darvish might not be ready to start on opening day, either. Darvish has a stiff neck, and the Rangers haven't made a final decision yet, but there's a possibility his first start is pushed back a few days. At the point, it doesn't sound like Darvish would go on the disabled list.
At the catcher's position, offseason acquisition J.P. Arencibia is likely to take over as the the Rangers' starter. He proved with the Blue Jays he has power, but he strikes out a lot and can't hit for average.
THE BRAVES ARE ON THE JOURNEYMEN PITCHER MERRY GO-ROUND, and Monday they released 37-year-old Freddy Garcia, then quickly signed 35-year-old Aaron Harang to take his place. The Braves have been beat up by pitching injuries, losing both Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy for the season.
Earlier in the day, Harang asked for his release from the Cleveland Indians. This will be his third team in the past two years. In 2013, he made 22 starts for the Seattle Mariners and four for the New York Mets. He had a combined ERA of 5.40. Garcia was a little better, but not by much. He had a 4.37 ERA last season for the Braves and Baltimore Orioles.
SPEAKING OF FREE-AGENT PITCHERS, the Seattle Mariners granted Scott Baker's wish and released him Monday. Baker, 32, missed all of 2012 and only started three games in 2013 after Tommy John surgery. He's liable to catch on with another team, so he preferred that to a Triple-A assignment with the Mariners.
THE WHITE SOX HAVE LOCKED UP ANOTHER OF THEIR PITCHERS, signing 25-year-old Jose Quintana to a five-year contract extension that's worth at least $21 million. It's reminiscent of when the White Sox signed ace Chris Sale to a team-friendly extension last spring. The Sox hope Sale and Quintana can lead their rotation for years to come, and are looking for cost certainty by signing extensions before either pitcher was eligible for salary arbitration.
Quintana was 9-7 with a 3.51 ERA last season, his first full season in MLB. His extension includes two club option years, which could have jacked up prices if Quintana wins a Cy Young or finishes in the top three. Potentially, he could be with the White Sox through the 2020 season.
JON LESTER AND THE RED SOX COULD HAVE A CONTRACT EXTENSION in place by opening day, if things continue to go well. That's according to MLB.com's Ian Browne, who writes that since the defending champs have agreed to a new deal with David Ortiz, their ace pitcher is next.
Lester, 30, will start for the Red Sox on opening day. He'll make $13 million this season from a team option on his previous contract signed in 2009. If the Red Sox and Lester don't agree to a new contract before season's end, he'll be a free agent. He's expressed interested in staying with Boston.
With the Cleveland Indians sending centerfielder Michael Bourn to the disabled list to start the season, Nyjer Morgan is officially back on an MLB roster for the 2014 regular season. Morgan, 33, spent last season in Japan after having some mildly productive seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers and Washington Nationals. How much we see of Tony Plush, Morgan's alter ego, remains to be seen. But here's skipper Terry Francona's take:
About Morgan, manager Terry Francona quipped: "We only have room for 25, so Nyjer makes it and Tony doesn't."— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 24, 2014
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