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The Spring Training Weekly Notebook: American League Edition

It is that time of the year! Spring training provides the perfect setting for position battles, adding muscle or shedding weight, swing changes, adding a pitch… you name it. It is the time to mix and match.

In this weekly space, we will look at injuries, hot streaks and other notable trends that can provide a clue on how to approach some fantasy decisions and situations.

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Spring Training Notes: American League

AL East

New York Yankees

  • Luis Severino has a torn UCL in his right elbow and needs Tommy John surgery. The procedure will be performed on Thursday. He will miss all of 2020 and a portion of the 2021 season.
  • Jordan Montgomery will now likely enter the rotation and is a nice deeper league play, and he could possibly earn value in shallow mixed leagues depending on performance.
  • Aaron Judge, who had “crankiness and soreness” in his shoulder since the early days of spring training, could be playing in games by next week.
  • Miguel Andujar will play third base, first base and outfield this spring, which could augment his positional flexibility.

Boston Red Sox

  • Ryan Weber, a candidate for the fifth starter job, started off spring training on the right foot, with two scoreless frames against an Orioles.
  • Alex Verdugo remains sidelined with a back issue. He has no timetable and could open the season on the disabled list.
  • Kevin Pillar, the man that could replace Verdugo while he’s out, had a 2-for-2 day against the Orioles on Tuesday. He hit a double and walked.
  • Chris Sale is hopeful to be ready for Opening Day. He is behind his peers after battling pneumonia, not to mention the elbow issues that ended his 2019 prematurely.

Baltimore Orioles

  • Chris Davis is 2-for-2 with three walks in his first two games this spring.
  • One of the team’s most exciting young arms, Hunter Harvey, is sidelined with an illness. His issue is not of the long-term variety and he is expected to be one of the best bullpen arms on the Orioles. As noted here, Harvey is a name to watch for those looking for saves.
  • Cedric Mullins is off to three steals in spring training. He should start in Triple-A but could become a cheap SB option if he performs and is called up.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Joe Panik and Rowdy Tellez are battling for a roster spot. The latter hit a three-run homer and added an RBI double on Tuesday.
  • Uber-prospect Nate Pearson had a scintillating spring training debut, striking out all three hitters he faced Tuesday vs. the Yankees. He will start the season in the Minors but could be up in the first couple months of the season.
  • Japanese import Shun Yamaguchi gave up three runs in two-thirds of an inning Monday against the Braves.
  • Matt Shoemaker, who started off the 2019 season nicely before tearing his left ACL and missing the rest of the year, will throw a simulated game on Wednesday. He should be ready for the start of 2020.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • Brandon Lowe tripled, doubled and drove in three runs on Tuesday. He is a 30-homer threat this year but is a batting average risk.
  • Manny Margot and Randy Arozarena are battling it out for playing time in the outfield: both of them had 2-for-2 days in split-squad games on Tuesday.
  • Japanese star Yoshi Tsutsugo homered and walked from the DH spot on Monday.
  • Brendan McKay is battling shoulder stiffness.

AL Central

Minnesota Twins

  • Free agent signing Jhoulys Chacin hurled two scoreless innings against the Braves on Tuesday.
  • Max Kepler is nursing an upper back injury that shouldn’t keep him out more than a few days.
  • Nelson Cruz is already back at it: he went 2-for-3 and hit a two-run homer on Monday.
  • On Sunday, the Twins batted Josh Donaldson second, catcher Mitch Garver third and first baseman Miguel Sano in the cleanup spot. If Garver keeps that spot, he could have a boost in value.

Cleveland Indians

  • Franmil Reyes is on fire. He homered in his first spring training game and ripped two doubles on Tuesday.
  • Shane Bieber hurled a perfect inning on Tuesday.
  • Francisco Lindor had a home run on Monday.
  • Third base prospect Nolan Jones was invited to big league camp. He has prodigious power.
  • Carlos Carrasco is day-to-day with a mild right hip flexor strain.

Chicago White Sox

  • Ace Lucas Giolito threw curveballs and sliders in his latest bullpen session.
  • Star free agent signing Yasmani Grandal will be out for another 7-10 spring training games, per manager Rick Renteria.
  • Dylan Cease could be a fantastic post-hype sleeper. He debuted with two scoreless frames and three strikeouts on Sunday.
  • The team signed 2B Leury Garcia to a one-year, $3.25 million contract for 2020. The deal includes a $3.5 million club option for 2021. He can be known as the Nick Madrigal placeholder, as it is a matter of when, not if, the talented hitter takes over and makes your season.

Detroit Tigers

  • Miguel Cabrera looks determined to resurrect his career. The 37-year-old hit a three-run homer on Tuesday.
  • Spencer Turnbull struck out four hitters in two perfect innings vs. the Mets on Tuesday.
  • Ron Gardenhire told the press that Matthew Boyd will be No. 1 or 2 starter for the Tigers to begin the season.

Kansas City Royals

  • Deep league alert: Jorge Lopez fanned five in 2 2/3 scoreless innings Tuesday against the Rangers. He has rocked 4 2/3 scoreless frames in 2020 spring training. He is trying to win a rotation spot.
  • Slugger Jorge Soler is already up to two homers.
  • Brad Keller struggled in his Monday start, giving up a couple of runs in one frame.
  • Trevor Rosenthal is hitting 99 mph on the radar gun but is out for a few days with calf tightness.

AL West

Houston Astros

  • Chris Devenski dropped 19 pounds over the offseason in an effort to return to the dominant form he showcased in the 2016-2018 timeframe.
  • Jose Altuve was already hit by a pitch in his first game of spring training. It looked unintentional, though.
  • Lance McCullers is expected to see his first game action in a few days. The Tommy John rehabber could be a steal in drafts this season.
  • Rogelio Armenteros was shut down with elbow and shoulder issues. That could solidify the path for Jose Urquidy (and Josh James?) to join the rotation.

Oakland Athletics

  • Jesus Luzardo struck out two Padres in a couple of innings of work. He topped out at 97 mph.
  • Sean Manaea was rocked for six earned runs in 1 2/3 innings on Monday vs. the Brewers. Ouch.
  • Tony Kemp, competing with Franklin Barreto and Jorge Mateo for the second base gig, went 2-for-3 with a homer on Sunday.
  • A.J. Puk, another uber-prospect like Luzardo, had a clean inning in his spring training debut last weekend. He struck out one.

Los Angeles Angels

  • Julio Teheran won’t start Wednesday’s game as planned because of left hamstring tightness.
  • Taylor Ward was 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBI Tuesday versus the Reds.
  • Dylan Bundy is off to a good start, fanning four over two innings of work Tuesday. He could be a value play after the change of scenery.
  • Prospect Brandon Marsh suffered a left (non-throwing) elbow strain while diving for a ball on Sunday.

Texas Rangers

  • The team’s rotation depth suffered a huge hit: Brock Burke will undergo season-ending surgery to repair fraying and a partial tear of his left labrum.
  • Danny Santana is nursing left calf tightness.

Seattle Mariners

  • Left-hander Justus Sheffield struck out three hitters across two perfect frames Tuesday versus the Brewers. Don’t forget he was formerly a top prospect.
  • Shortstop J.P. Crawford added 10 pounds of muscle during the offseason and says that he is already “feeling a difference on the field from it.”
  • Marco Gonzales was pummeled in his spring training debut Monday against the Cubs, yielding five earned runs over just two-thirds of an inning.

Spot something fantasy-worthy in Spring Training? Share your take in the comments below.

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