Baseball is back. As we get closer to the regular season, be sure to stop by The Stew each morning for your get your daily helping of spring storylines.
If Matt Harvey has his way, he'll make his return from Tommy John surgery in 2014. The 24-year-old right-hander stated as much on Saturday in a tweet that read "2014 Harvey day will happen." Harvey Day, of course, is how Mets fans refer to the days Harvey is scheduled to pitch.
The tweet itself has since been deleted, but not before it caught the attention of Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.
"Look, I can't control what he tweets or says by other means," Alderson said. "If that's how he feels, that's his perspective and we'll see where it goes."
"It's one of those never-say-never [situations],'' Alderson said. "Look, are the probabilities with him? Everybody's different. It's what, not even the middle of March? Let's wait until the middle of July before we maybe address that question again."
Harvey's return in 2014 should be viewed as a long shot. Perhaps he realized as much before removing the tweet. Harvey only had the procedure on Oct. 22. Most pitchers need a full 12 months of rehab to get back on track, and an additional few weeks to work into game condition. For Harvey to return, he'd have to be cranking it back up no later than the All-Star break, as Alderson indicated. And even then the Mets would probably be hesitant to push him into games that will likely be irrelevant.
It's an admirable goal. We'll just have to see how truly realistic it is.
DONALDSON GETS LEAGUE MINIMUM:A fourth place finish in the American League MVP balloting didn't net Josh Donaldson much of a raise from the Oakland A's. On Saturday, Oakland renewed the third baseman's contract at the league-minimum salary of $500,000, which is just up from the $492,000 he earned in 2013. The league minimum last season was $490,000.
According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the A's offered a little bit above league minimum this season, but Donaldson turned them down. Since he's not yet eligible for arbitration, Oakland had the option to renew his contract at a salary no less than 80% of his salary from 2013, and that's exactly what they did. The A's and Donaldson are still free to work on a new contract if they choose. He'll be arbitration eligible next winter.
BUXTON LAUNCHES FIRST SPRING HOMER: It was only a matter of time before Byron Buxton, the top prospect in baseball, announced his arrival in Grapefruit League play. That moment came on Saturday when the future Twins center fielder launched a two-run shot off Blue Jays right-hander Drew Hutchison. The homer was Buxton's only hit in five at-bats as his batting average fell to a paltry .158 on the spring. A slow start overall, but that one swing serves as a reminder of just how bright his future is.
JESUS MONTERO DELIVERS TWO HOMERS: Much has been made of Jesus Montero's weight after he showed up to camp 40 pounds over his 2013 playing weight. On Saturday, he put the talk behind him and his weight behind a couple powerful swings to deliver his first two home runs of the spring. The first was a two-run shot off established veteran Josh Beckett in the second. He added a solo blast in the eighth against Chris Withrow to help wrap up Seattle's 8-5 win over the Dodgers.
It's also worth noting Montero played all nine innings at first base and committed a two-run error on a grounder right through the legs.
NO CHANGES IN CBA: Despite numerous complaints about the qualifying offer system for free agents, including those from Kyle Lohse, current free agent Stephen Drew and even players union chief Tony Clark, no changes will be forthcoming in the current collective bargaining agreement until it expires in December 2016. Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Brad Ziegler, a member of the players' association's executive subcommittee, had this to say to Gabe Lacques of USA Today.
"The CBA won't be reopened," Ziegler, , told USA TODAY Sports on Saturday. "There's no way it's a big enough deal to do that right now. I haven't heard any rumblings that's even realistic."
RED SOX HIT WITH SMALL FINE: According to WEEI.com, Major League Baseball hit the Red Sox with a small fine after they failed to meet the league's guidelines of playing enough regulars in their spring training game against the Miami Marlins on Thursday. The rule is often ignored, but the Marlins had MLB look into the matter after they raised tickets specifically for that matchup. In a likely response to the fine, Red Sox owner John Henry took a swipe at the Marlins on Twitter.
Speaking of the Red Sox, manager John Farrell weighed in on the possibility of Shane Victorino permanently ditching his switch-hitting ways and becoming a strictly right-handed batter moving forward.
“The right side has always been his strong side,” Farrell said. “I think last year his production against righthanded pitching probably has enabled him to be a little bit more open-minded to getting the majority of at-bats from that side of the plate.”
Farrell said the Red Sox support the idea.
“We want the most productive player,” he said. “If that’s what it lends to, we’d be perfectly fine with it if that’s what he opts to do.”
Victorino experimented and found success hitting right-handed only during the second half of last season. It seems he found a comfort zone, and the Red Sox sound supportive of the potential switch, so it wouldn't be surprising at all to see Victorino ditch the double-flapped batting helmet. Unless, of course, that's part of what makes him comfortable at the plate.
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