Padres’ Bob Melvin ponders 6-man rotation, Opening Day starter Ohtani long HR powers Japan; Italy advances at World Classic
The San Diego Padres are flirting with the idea of kicking off the season with a six-man pitcher rotation.
However, picking a starting Opening Day may not be such an easy decision for manager Bob Melvin.
WITH Joe Musgrove suspended from a toe injury and Yu Darvish playing for Japan in the World Baseball Classic, Melvin is exploring options that could include Blake Snell or Michael Wacha.
Musgrove, who is on the mend after dropping weight on his left big toe, is about to throw the bullpen session.
And while he has made progress in his recovery since having his toenail removed, there’s no guarantee he’ll be ready for the March 30 opener against the Colorado Rockies.
However, if Musgrove doesn’t fail, there’s a chance he could be at the end of the proposed six-man rotation the Padres are considering because they have to start the season with a 24-game span in 25 days.
“It’s quite surprising to me, but since he had his nail removed, the pain has subsided. It’s going to be bullpen (Monday) and we’ll see where we go from there,” Melvin said.
“We don’t want to go too far and fail. If you’re talking to him or talking to us, it’s a slightly different story. He’ll be opening the opening envelope,” Melvin added. “I still don’t think it will happen. We want to make sure he doesn’t approve of this. He’s going to fly back to San Diego to make sure he’s okay and doesn’t approve of it.”
Darvish also has to work at the end of the rotation, because he plays for Japan in the WBC and could potentially start the decisive game on March 20.
“We are not sure what his schedule will be. It would be either one or the other (for Opening Day),” Melvin said. “His load is fine. We have no problem with this. Once you accept the fact that they represent their country, there are some issues that you can’t control.”
One day after recording their first hits for Padres since 2021 Fernando Tatis Jr. was not included. He had a bruised left knee, but the Padre was told that it was not serious and he could play.
Yankee first baseman Anthony Rizzo didn’t make the two-hour drive south from Tampa, Florida to face the Red Sox in Fort Myers after being cut from the roster with back pain.
The defending AL East champions do not see the problem as serious and think that Rizzo will be able to play again in the next few days. The left-handed hitter has experienced occasional back problems throughout his career.
Rizzo, who had an epidural last season, admitted in early spring training that his back problems could continue.
“Anyone who’s had back pain kind of comes out of nowhere.” Rizzo said February 19th. “You just do the best you can. This off-season, I really focused on recovery and feeling good the next day. I would be crazy if I was sitting here and saying that this year I will not have a previous issue, because every year it seems like something pops up. But I definitely feel confident in my daily preparation.”
Rizzo hit .224 in 130 games last season, 41 points below his career average. He finished with 32 homers, 75 RBIs and a .338 base percentage.
feeding the New York Mets Brooks Reilly was excluded from Team USA at the World Baseball Classic due to a strain in his left hamstring. The left-hander returned to spring training in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
The Mets do not consider the injury serious, but there is no exact timeline for Rayleigh’s return.
The rule changes, which include a pitching timer, defensive switch restrictions and increased bases this year, continue to receive positive feedback from major league players who say the rules achieve their goal of accelerating the pace of games.
Entering Sunday’s Grapefruit and Cactus League game, 9-inning games averaged just over two hours and 36 minutes, up from 3:00.46 last spring.
Meanwhile, the teams collectively hit .262, up from .243 last season. The number of runs per game also increased from 4.28 to 5.44.
“I think it was good. More action. Games are shorter,” New York Yankees batter Giancarlo Stanton said. “I’m not a big fan of games that end in timing, but I think that will work out somehow.”
WATTO IS RETURNING
cincinnati Joey Votto played in his first Cactus League game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
On August 19, Votto underwent surgery to repair his bicep and rotator cuff on his left shoulder.
“I knew it was coming. I could tell by his mood. I didn’t know what day it was until yesterday,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He was alive at bats. It’s still one day at a time, but the fun part is we still have two weeks of spring training to go.”
Votto missed the last 46 games of last season.
“I played a couple of sim games, but there were no sim game options today,” Votto said. “I didn’t want to go two days in a row without a live performance at bat. It’s been about three years since I had a full camp. I feel like I’m better prepared than ever this year.”
Spring training ended early due to COVID-19 in 2020, Votto was out with COVID in 2021 during spring training and was cut last spring due to the CBA lockout.
“I need to stock up on some bats,” he said. “I’m not worried about one game (opening day). I need to think about 162 games. I want to go out and be healthy for as much of the season as possible. I’m not 100% in terms of game speed and good play, however I feel closer to good health.
“It was a difficult operation, and after it it is not so easy to recover. I was in such good hands with the surgeons and physiotherapists and strength trainers. I had fantastic support. I am grateful for this. This is part of the professional athlete experience. You will be hurt. I didn’t see it as a failure.”
Adrian Sampson The Cubs had a good start last season, but he’s realistic about where he fits into the team’s plans for this year.
Sampson started 25 games with the Cubs and finished with a 3.50 ERA in 138 2/3 innings. But the competition is heating up Markus Stroman, Hayden Wesnesky, Keegan Thompsonreturn Drew Smiley and newbie Jameson Tylon. And then there is Kyle Hendrixdue to return in May after rehabilitating an injured shoulder.
Sampson’s performance has been low this spring, but he was pleased after a four-inning game against Milwaukee in Mesa. Luke Voight And Bryce Turang hit straight homers in a second for the Brewers, but with Sampson giving up 10 runs in his first 4 1/3 innings in two starts this spring, he’ll take it.
“I was very happy,” Sampson said after allowing six hits in four innings. He walked none and struck out three.
“I want to keep going, throwing more pitches so my arm feels good and I’m ready to compete,” Sampson said.
He wasn’t worried about his status, believing that even after starting exclusively for the Cubs last year, he could easily switch to relief.
“I can’t control all these things,” Sampson said. “Lucky for me, I can do whatever they ask. I can get out of the bullpen, I can start whatever they want. Having a chance to win is the most important part.”
TOKYO — Shohei Otani hit a three-point homer that landed just below his billboard image, sending Japan to a 7-1 win over Australia at the World Baseball Classic on Sunday night.
Otani also walked twice and finished with four RBIs. His first pitch went approximately 448 feet.
Japan won Group B 4-0 and will play in the quarter-finals on Wednesday against Italy, who, together with Cuba, were eliminated from Group A in tie-breaks. Matt Harvey took the win when Italy beat the Netherlands 7–1, bringing all five teams to a 2–2 finish.
South Korea beat the Czech Republic 7-3 in the other Group B match, while Cuba beat Taiwan 7-1 in Group A.
Otani spun after a dangling spin ball from Will Sherriff, who wasn’t even watching the ball fly into the Tokyo Dome’s right seats, hunched over with his hands on his knees. It was the first home run of the tournament for Otani, who is 6-for-12 with eight RBIs and seven walks.
Winner Yoshinobu Yamamoto struck out eight of four scoreless innings, allowing one hit and no walks. He threw 42 out of 60 shots for strikes, averaging 95.2 mph with his fastball and reaching a top speed of 96.9 mph. The 24-year-old right-hander was the Pacific League MVP for the Orix Buffaloes in 2021 and 2022 and played a no-hitter last June 22 against the Saitama Seibu Lions.
Robbie Perkins was the only Australian batter to catch up with Yamamato in singles in the third match. Alex Hall finished ninth behind Hiroto Takahashi finishing with five hitters.
Australia (2-1) is second in Group B, ahead of the Czechs and South Korea (both 1-2) and knocking out China (0-3). Australia will move forward by defeating the Czechs on Monday when South Korea plays China.
ISRAEL 3, NICARAGUA 1
MIAMI – Garret Stubbs hit a two-run double in the three-run eighth inning that helped Israel rally for the win in the WBC opener.
Stubbs had two of Israel’s seven hits. His bases-loaded double from New York Yankees pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga drove into the net. Spencer Horwitz and Noah Mendlinger with two strikeouts in the eighth. Horwitz equalized earlier in the inning with an RBI single.
Winner Richard Blair there were two outs in one half of the help.
Nicaragua took a 1-0 lead in the fifth leg when Stephen Layton scored a brace for Sandy Bermudez. But in the WBC pool game, it fell to 0-2.
ITALY 7, NETHERLANDS 1
TAICHUNG, Taiwan. Harvey pitched four innings for Italy, while Milwaukee Brewers prospect Sal Frelik had three hits and two RBIs.
The Italian players had to wait a few minutes after the final to find out that they had moved forward with Cuba, while…