Cahill named Opening Day starter. What else is happening in the AL West?
-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
As the regular season approaches, Athlon will go around the majors with updates from every division. Today, we focus on the AL West.
Los Angeles Angels
The big story line this spring for the Angels has been the return, or attempted return, of first baseman Kendrys Morales. The big bat in the middle of the order will start the season on the DL after experiencing some discomfort in his surgically repaired left foot/lower leg. He has recently been fitted for orthotic inserts in both shoes and he claims the pain has diminished. He has already returned to L.A ahead of the team…Right-hander Joel Pineiro will make a quick trip the DL himself to start the year with muscle soreness in his upper back. He could be back as soon as April 8…Outfielder Vernon Wells experienced a ‘very mild’ hamstring strain on Wednesday running the bases. He should be resting for the rest of spring training and should be ready for Opening Day.
With a deep and talented rotation, picking an Opening Day starter was probably harder for skipper Bob Geren than most. However, he announced this week that Trevor Cahil, and his 2.97 ERA from a year ago, will start the first game of the year for the A’s…The fifth spot in the rotation still has yet to be finalized and Tyson Ross made his strong case on Thursday with a solid 5.2-inning outing – giving up one earned run, four hits, two walks with three strikeouts. Bobby Cramer and Brandon McCarthy are in the mix for that fifth spot…Andrew Bailey has yet to be ruled out of playing Opening Day by the team, but one has to think that his strained right forearm will push back his start time for 2011. Stay tuned.
A recurring stomach ailment has Gold Glove center fielder Franklin Gutierrez’s status for Opening Day in question. He has visited a variety of doctors and they are still not certain what is causing the issues. The solution could be a simple as a change in diet – or as scary as, well, many things…Top prospect, second baseman Dustin Ackley, was sent down to the minors this week. Coaches and players were pleased with what they saw from the young star, but arbitration dates likely will push his MLB debut to the middle of May (and rightfully so). Sean Kazmar, Steven Baron, Fabio Castro and Gabe Gross all went with him to the farm.
The biggest position battle in all the American League was decided this week. Rangers closer Nefatli Feliz was battling with himself for either a spot in the rotation or to keep his job as closer. He was stretched out all spring, but Texas announced this week that he would stay in his role of closer – one that won him AL Rookie of the Year in 2010. For now, at least…On the same day the club announced Tommy Hunter would make the rotation, the Rangers' pitcher left his start in the third inning with a right groin strain. It appears to be minor and a trip to the DL may not be necessary. Could this impact the decision to keep Feliz in the pen, though?...For the time being, Michael Young is still a Ranger. But there are a lot of clubs that could use his leadership and offense. Rumors have Texas willing to pay for up to $24 million of his deal. Another stay tuned...