There are just six days until baseball starts. On March 31, at 10:00AM Eastern, the Detroit Tigers take on the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves take on the Washington Nationals. But the big game on the docket is the San Francisco Giants against their hated rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Giants have had a strong Cactus League season so far, with an 18-9 record which is tops for all teams in the spring (as of this writing). And until just recently, the biggest news of the spring for the Giants had been the trailer that was released for their Showtime series called The Franchise.
It had been a fairly uneventful, business as usual spring for the defending World Series champs until news came out earlier this week that closer Brian Wilson hurt his oblique muscle. He tried throwing on the side yesterday and the team shut him down. He may have to miss the beginning of the season. And just this morning, news came out that right fielder Cody Ross’ strained calf will cause him to miss a few weeks and start the season on the DL. They didn’t think defending their championship would be easy right?
(For you Giants fans, you can join my SF Giants Facebook Fanpage to get all the news on the team.)
They aren’t the only team who are struggling with injuries. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies second baseman and a key cog in their lineup may also start the season on the DL according to GM Ruben Amaro Jr.
I would think so. He hasn’t seen the field yet, and we’re a week away (from Opening Day).
The Phillies did dodge a bullet when starting pitcher Roy Oswalt turned out to be fine after being drilled in the back of the head by a Manny Ramirez line drive. The worst injury of them all is Adam Wainwright’s elbow injury that is going to knock him out for the year and require Tommy John’s surgery. I had a conversation with Daniel Shoptaw, St. Louis Cards blogger recently, and we talked about it.
Other interesting tidbits as we get ready for the season to start:
- Texas Rangers’ closer Neftali Feliz will start the season as the, ahem, closer. There was talk of having him in the starting rotation, but he will remain the closer for the 2011 season, according to Rangers’ CEO Nolan Ryan. The long term plan is for Feliz to start.
- Rather than try to replace closer Billy Wagner with one reliever, the Atlanta Braves are going to use two. As of right now, manager Fredi Gonzalez will use both Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters to close games. The Braves look really good going into the season and they could make that NL East race really interesting. If Utley has to miss a lot of time, the Braves could sneak in there, Cliff Lee or not.
- As if this was surprising news at all, Derek Jeter owns baseball’s best selling jersey. What was surprising was to see who else was high on that list. Who was second? Maybe Albert Pujols? Nope, he was sixth. How about Alex Rodrieguez? Nope, he was ninth. The Freak Tim Lincecum? Nope, he was 10th. Rounding out the top five after Jeter were Joe Mauer, Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, and Cliff Lee.
Baseball is just one week away. If it wasn’t raining over here in Northern California so much, I’d go outside to smell the grass.
Photo taken by Kari Hensel who was at Spring Training earlier in the year