During the regular season, the Closer Hot Seat will be your go-to guide for Major League Baseball's bullpen chatter. During spring training, KFFL's Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Session will get you tuned up for the fantasy baseball saves chase. Camp happenings don't always impact closer battles, but if there's MLB news you should know for your fantasy baseball draft, you'll find it here.
You can narrow the Oakland Athletics' closer battle. Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes look like the leading candidates, with Joey Devine and Fautino De Los Santos on the fringe.
Wilson not holding back
The number of left-handed arms that make up the final 'pen could decide matters; skipper Bob Melvin might not be willing to leave Jerry Blevins as the only other southpaw reliever, so Fuentes, who's in better shape this camp, might be a step behind without having a say in the matter.
Balfour typically struggles during tune-up games, but his skills remain your best bet if you're forced to decide today.
- The San Francisco Giants have been taking things slow with Brian Wilson, who missed a chunk of time due to elbow inflammation last season. The righty threw batting practice Sunday and, per teammate Emmanuel Burriss, didn't look like he was holding anything back.
He's lined up to make his Cactus League debut Sunday and aims to log approximately 10 spring frames. Keep track of his progress, but do so with a grain of salt when looking at his big picture.
- Chris Perez (oblique) played catch Tuesday, making 45 throws from a distance of 60 feet. If he lands in the more optimistic end of his four- to six-week window of recovery, he could be ready for opening day. If not, Vinnie Pestano would most likely take the Cleveland Indians' reins; he's a solid speculation in deep setups with the possibility of shallow-league worth if Perez's rehab lags.
- A quick check by Dr. Tim Kremchek said that Ryan Madson doesn't have significant elbow damage. "There's just inflammation in one spot," the Cincinnati Reds' prized offseason addition said about the pain he experienced in his first bullpen session last week.
He has been shut down for now, but concern is minimal per the righty and the organization. It's worth watching, but not worth panicking over just yet. Sean Marshall is the backup here, for speculators.
- No longer receiving treatment for his balky back, Jim Johnson threw in a Baltimore Orioles simulated game Tuesday; MASN Sports' Roch Kubatko counted 20 pitches, but the O's reported 17. Either way, expect Johnson to participate in another live session before appearing in a game sometime within the next week. He's the front-runner for B-more save chances.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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