Baseball's back! As we get closer to the regular season, stop by The Stew periodically for a helping of spring storylines.
Nelson Cruz, the $8 million offseason acquisition the Baltimore Orioles made to improve their already potent lineup, avoided potential injury Thursday after he was beaned by Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb in Baltimore's final spring training game.
The pitch from Cobb, a breaking ball, cracked Cruz's helmet and forced him to leave the game. But all indications after the game said Cruz is all right. A CAT scan after the game came back negative. From the Baltimore Sun:
"He cracked the helmet. It sounded hopefully worse than it was," Showalter said. "He seems to be fine. I’d like to say we dodged a bullet, but he didn’t. So far, so good. I think it’s a little early, but I think he’s going to be fine. Right now, I think he’s OK."
Cruz stood up quickly but was removed from the game after being evaluated by head athletic trainer Richie Bancells and Showalter at home plate.
He immediately went back to the Orioles clubhouse with Bancells under his own power.
At this time, Cruz is expected to be in the Orioles lineup for opening day.
COLE HAMELS WON'T BE READY FOR OPENING DAY, but he at least ended spring training on an encouraging note. The Philadelphia Phillies starter has been delayed because of shoulder issues, so when he pitched two innings in a minor league game Thursday, it was his first game action of the spring.
More from CSN Philly:
Hamels expects to continue to pitch in minor-league games in Florida every fifth day.
“I’m really pleased,” he said. “I feel like I can truly get spring training in now. I feel healthy now and I have the strength to go out and get my reps in and build my pitch count up.”
Starters typically make six starts in spring training. If Thursday’s minor-league outing was the first, Hamels projects to make five more before being ready to join the big club in late April.
Of course, every schedule is subject to change. Depending on how Hamels feels, he could progress faster or slower than expected.
• The Phillies released 40-year-old Bobby Abreu, who was attempting a big-league comeback.
• Scott Kazmir was sharp in his Oakland A's debut, as Oakland shut out their Bay Area foes, the Giants.
• ICYMI: Doug Fister left Thursday's start for the Washington Nationals' minor league team and looks doubtful for the opening day rotation.
"[Friday] he's allowed to play catch, so we'll see where he's at," manager Don Mattingly said. "He's really on hold."
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