Spring Training Thoughts: Albert Pujols, Carl Crawford, Dee Gordon, and Others

Stephen Dunn

Ray Guilfoyle offers his thoughts on some recent spring training news including Albert Pujols, Carl Crawford and others.

Yesterday, we learned that Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford had a setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery. He developed a nerve irritation in his forearm and will be shut down for the next week as a result. According to Eric Stephen over at True Blue LA, Crawford could start the season on the DL. I heard an interview with manager Don Mattingly yesterday, and he indicated that if he does start the season on the DL, it would only be for the first few games of the season. This will certainly knock his ADP a bit, and he could prove to be a steal on draft day as a result.

This morning we learn that Angels first baseman Albert Pujols has hinted that he may not get any at bats in spring training, as he recovers from offseason knee surgery. Am I the only one who thinks that this "minor" knee surgery was a bigger deal than we have been led to believe? He has yet to be cleared to run on the field yet, but has been running on a treadmill. He is scheduled to see action in spring training games in a few weeks.

If you are looking for a late round speed guy, you might want to put Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon on your radar. Yesterday, he led off and went 1-2 with 2 runs scored, 2 walks and 2 stolen bases. TWO walks!! In 14 plate appearances this spring, he has one hit, 6 walks and 3 strikeouts. If he keeps this up, I could see him pushing Mattingly to give him the shortstop job out of spring training. I don't see the Dodgers going with Luis Cruz at third base all season, and they could move Hanley Ramirez over to third base, giving Gordon the shortstop job. I know, small sample size, but the 6 walks could mean a change in his approach at the plate. Maybe the light bulb has gone off?

Joel Sherman from the New York Post reports this morning that the Tigers have interest in bringing back closer Jose Valverde, as insurance if rookie Bruce Rondon struggles in the closer role. In 2.2 innings thus far, Rondon has given up one run on 3 hits, 4 walks and 5 strikeouts. Basically, he is Jose Valverde's younger brother, as he puts men on base at an alarming rate. The Tigers are built to win now, and cannot afford to give their closer job to a rookie.

Red Sox manager John Farrell stated that young starter Rubby de la Rosa will probably not make the team out of spring training, and could start the season at AA Portland. Man, I hope so, as I live about 20 minutes from Trenton's Waterfront Park. There should be plenty of talent in the Eastern League this season, including Xander Bogaerts, Nick Castellanos, Dylan Bundy, Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, Oswaldo Arcia and others.

Braves starter Julio Teheran was impressive yesterday in his start vs the Nationals. He allowed just one run on one hit and struck out five. He could be a difference maker for the Braves if he can put his 2012 season behind him.

Last season at this time, I was down on Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez due to the downward trend in his power. But, after a 2012 season where he hit .257 with 24 home runs, 79 runs, 92 RBI and 21 steals, I am admitting I was wrong about him, and think he is poised for another 20-20 season in the loaded Dodgers lineup. Yesterday, he stole two bases, including a steal of home, and has 3 stolen bases thus far in spring action. With Davey Lopes as the Dodgers first base coach, Ramirez, Matt Kemp and possibly Dee Gordon will see plenty of green lights on the base paths this season.

Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan was scratched from Friday's spring training game with a left oblique injury. It is being termed as mild, but could his injury give Devin Mesoraco a longer look this spring? I think it will, but Mesoraco will have to hit better than he did last season, as he is battling Miguel Olivo for the backup catcher role in Cincinnati. Mesoraco took advantage of the injury by homering for the second time in six spring training games.

Indians closer Chris Perez will miss the next 3-4 weeks due to a shoulder strain. Vinnie Pestano will fill in as the Indians closer while he is out, so he should move up our rankings, as a result.

Nationals third base prospect Anthony Rendon is having a hot spring, and he played shortstop yesterday . ESPN's Buster Olney speculates that the Nationals could use him as a super utility guy this season, playing some third base and other infield positions as well.

I am thinking about updating my Top 200 Rankings for Monday morning, so keep a look out for that.

Feel free to post any tweets or quotes in the comment section to share any newsworthy items you see today.

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