Around the American League
Were it not for Abreu's April heroics, the resurgence of the aforementioned Prince Albert would have been the month's biggest headline. He is a player I wanted no part of this offseason, as I was firmly planted on the side that felt his best days were behind him and there always seemed to be at least one owner who believed in him in all of my drafts this year. With his nine home runs and 22 RBI to start the year, I will at the very least say I am glad to see him terrorizing opposing pitchers again. He is a proud man, and the motivation he showed this spring to put last year behind him has carried over into the season. I congratulate him for that as well as becoming the newest member of the 500 home run club.
Manny is back
Ivan Nova and A.J. Griffin joined the growing list of pitchers headed for Tommy John surgery this year. The New York Yankees will slot rookie Vidal Nuno into the back of their rotation for the time being, but I expect that Brian Cashman is already working the phones and waiver wire looking for other options. David Phelps could eventually bump Nuno, but he is filling in for the suspended and injured Michael Pineda for now.
As for the Oakland Athletics, Griffin joins Jarrod Parker on the sidelines for the rest of the year, but the A's are in less dire straights than the Yankees. Jesse Chavez has been a savior for the staff as a replacement for Parker, and Tommy Milone has held his own and given the team solid, if not spectacular, starts. The Griffin news solidifies his place in the rotation for now, as he was the most likely to get bumped had Griffin made it back healthy.
By the time you read this, Manny Machado should already have been recalled to the big leagues, a few days earlier than expected. His return is pleasant news to those who took the injury discount in drafts. Steve Lombardozzi was optioned to open up the spot, yet Jonathan Schoop probably remains on thin ice. Schoop has shown flashes, but he hasn't hit well enough to seize the job.
The honeymoon could be over for Seattle Mariners outfielder Abraham Almonte. After starting the first 23 games of the season, 22 of those as the leadoff hitter, he finally took a seat on the bench as Michael Saunders stepped in at both center field and as the leadoff hitter. Almonte is hitting just .204 to start the year. The team hasn't pulled the plug just yet, but they did call up Cole Gillespie for additional outfield depth. Almonte may only have until Logan Morrison returns from injury to get his game untracked. The only thing working in his favor right now is the fact that Saunders has been equally lackluster to start the year.
The closer carousel keeps on spinning, this time claiming the Angels' Ernesto Frieri as its latest victim. Veteran Joe Smith will assume closing duties for now and was likely scooped up in all leagues last week. Smith is a capable fill-in, and worth owning for as long as he has the gig, but I am sure the team would like to see Frieri reclaim the job and restore order to the bullpen as soon as he is able. You have to hold him for now and hope for the best.
Speaking of unsettled bullpens, it looks like Jim Johnson is on the verge of reclaiming the closer's job out in Oakland after stringing together six consecutive scoreless appearances since being removed from the role on April 10th. Manager Bob Melvin indicated as much last week, and it seems likely Johnson will get the next opportunity that arises.
Oswaldo Arcia is finally heading out on a rehab assignment and could be back by this weekend. With Chris Colabello continuing to play well, Jason Kubel figures to slide back into a platoon at DH with Josmil Pinto and others for the Minnesota Twins.
I mentioned rookie Marcus Stroman a couple weeks ago as the name at the top of the list for the Toronto Blue Jays if they decided to make a move in their rotation, and it seems like his time could come sooner than expected. The team has aligned his schedule to that of Dustin McGowan, and despite McGowan's OK start on Wednesday, Stroman could be up by the weekend. Time to speculate where you can.
Trevor Bauer is another young arm that could find himself in the rotation soon. Carlos Carrasco has struggled to start the year and has finally been banished to the bullpen. The Cleveland Indians opted to go with Zach McAllister on short rest against the Angels on Wednesday and will need a new fifth starter at some point during the next homestand. Bauer is the leading candidate to get the call, but veteran Josh Tomlin is also an option.
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