Alas, we have reached the end of spring training. This will be the last installment of the Spring Training Notebook. In this report, we'll be keeping you up-to-date on the events of spring training. Here we'll answer the following questions: Who suffered an injury that opened up a spot on the roster? Who is outperforming his combatant? Who has opened eyes in spring training? These numbers are going to be from a small sample size. These numbers are also skewed because pitchers often use spring training to work on new pitches and don't have great command or velocity. Take the numbers with a grain of salt, but don't discount them altogether, because whoever impresses coaches enough should win their job.
Spring Battle Notes
Injury: Fractured finger
Expected return: May
Analysis: Figgins suffered fractures in his right index and middle fingers and will miss five to six weeks of action. He will wear a splint on both fingers and be re-evaluated in three weeks. In the meantime, Robb Quinlan and Maicer Izturis will split time at third base for the first month. Quinlan and Izturis have minimal value. Izturis can steal bases, so keep him on your radar if needed.
Injury: Stress reaction in leg
Expected return: Opening Day
Analysis: Mauer gave the fantasy world a scare when an x-ray revealed a stress reaction in his leg. A stress reaction is a precursor to a stress fracture. Mauer is probably out for the rest of spring training. His status for opening day is probable.
Injury: Sprained ankle
Expected return: Opening Day
Analysis: Furcal gave fantasy owners another scare the same day as Mauer when he collided with outfielder Jason Repko and had to be carted off. He suffered a sprained ankle, and x-rays revealed it was not broken. Furcal says he'll be ready for opening day. However, don't expect him to be burning up the base paths until his ankle is comfortable.
Injury: Blood clot in shoulder
Expected return: July
Analysis: News broke today that Kenny Rogers (shoulder) underwent surgery on his pitching shoulder to remove a blood clot that had hampered his stamina this spring. Rogers will miss at least three months and can't begin throwing for six to eight weeks. If you drafted Rogers, plant him on your disabled list or release him altogether. He's out for so long that there's not much point in keeping him on your DL if you need it.
Injury: Strained hamstring
Expected return: Mid-to-late April
Analysis: Wang will begin the season on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. He should only miss a couple of starts though. A lot of people are really down on Wang this year (unless KFFL Managing Editor Cory J. Bonini). Sure, he only struck out a couple of Little Leaguers last year, but he won as many games as Twins ace Johan Santana and had an ERA less than 4.00. If he's available, stash him on your DL spot.
Injury: Sprained knee
Expected return: Early April
Analysis: Sanchez will likely begin the season on the disabled list with a sprained knee. He has resumed playing and plans to be ready for the second series of the season late next week. Bench him for now.
In a move that definitely opened our eyes, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez named De Aza the starting center fielder. Speedsters Eric Reed and Alex Sanchez were also in contention. Reed was sent down, and the team released Sanchez - who is likely done as a major leaguer. De Aza hit .351 with four RBI, eight runs and four steals. He's in the Juan Pierre mold and is a mega steals sleeper this season. If you're playing in a league with me though, I have likely picked him up!
The No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 draft has come to life this spring. He has been marred by off-the-field problems for four years, but he is still just 25. He has new life with the Reds after being selected in the Rule V Draft in the offseason. He has gone 25-for-62 (.403) with a homer, eight RBI and six runs scored. The troubled outfielder has created such a buzz that he will make the team as a backup. He's not worth drafting yet outside of NL-Only leagues, but keep your eyes on him during the season.
Braun had a sensational spring going 12-for-34 (.353) with five home runs and 15 RBI. It wasn't enough to steal the third base job though. Third baseman Corey Koskie is reportedly nowhere close to a return from post-concussion syndrome, but Braun will not steal the job due to defensive woes. The team plans to platoon Craig Counsell and Tony Graffanino at third base to start the season.
Finley came into spring training as a non-roster invitee and a long-shot to win a job with the team. He had a good spring hitting .286 with four RBI, eight runs and two steals. Finley gets a $1 million salary and can earn $350,000 in performance bonuses for being added to the 25-man roster. Finley has no value in fantasy leagues, but he is an intriguing option should someone get hurt. His power in Coors Field could be noteworthy.
About Ryan Dodson
Dodson is a KFFL Contributor and has been with KFFL since 2002.
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