Dan's Dugout: Minor League Contracts May Turn Major • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Minor League Contracts May Turn Major


It’s always nice to receive an invitation.

That’s especially true for athletes young and old trying to make a major-league baseball team.

This is the time of year that all 30 clubs create tryouts, hoping to whittle active rosters to the required 25 by the time the bell rings April 3.

Teams routinely control 40 players plus a whole bunch more who are signed but have not yet played in the big leagues. Then there are the invitees — athletes ranging from raw rookies to veterans hoping for a last hurrah.

Spring training is a time of tryouts  [Photo by Dan Schlossberg]

Spring training is a time of tryouts [Photo by Dan Schlossberg]

During the six-week period of spring training, extra pitchers and catchers are a luxury that all teams enjoy. But there are always a bunch of veterans hoping for one last chance.

Although they signed minor-league contracts, many will some morph into major-league deals.

Consider Jimmy Rollins, the one-time National League Most Valuable Player. He agreed to a minor-league deal with the Chicago White Sox but will never actually play there. In fact, he’s virtually certain to open the 2016 campaign as the team’s No. 1 shortstop now that Alexei Ramirez (signed with San Diego) is gone.

Former Florida first baseman Gaby Sanchez is just as likely to jump from spring training invitee to a starting position on the Seattle Mariners, his new team.

Ike Davis, the ex-Met, has a tougher task with the Texas Rangers but still could hook on as a

Ex-Met Ike Davis gets a new start with Texas

Ex-Met Ike Davis gets a new start with Texas

platoon player at first, part-time designated hitter, and pinch-hitter from the left side.

Two other former Mets, catcher Anthony Recker (Indians) and starting pitcher Dillon Gee (Royals), should also resurface in the big leagues, albeit in different uniforms.

Eric O’Flaherty, a star lefthanded reliever with the Braves but a bust with the Mets, will try to resurrect his reputation with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Outfielder Matt Joyce, who played for the Tampa Bay Rays, could also dent the roster.

Look for former Yankee reliever Joba Chamberlain to crack a Cleveland staff that needs help, along with lefties Ross Detwiler and Tom Gorzelanny. Craig Stammen, formerly with Washington, is also a good bet to stick.

There are always open spots for veteran pitchers such as aging Bronson Arroyo, trying to prove his elbow sound, and southpaw Craig Breslow, a reliever who wants to start. They’re in camp with the Nationals and Marlins, respectively.

Also strong candidates for big-league berths — but listed as invitees because rosters are too full — are Casey Janssen (Padres), Chien Ming-Wang and Ross Ohlendorf (Royals), Blaine Boyer and Chris Capuano (Brewers), and Andrew Bailey, Ernesto Frieri, Edward Mujica, and James Russell (Phillies).

Former SI coverboy Jeff Francoeur returns to the Braves

Former SI coverboy Jeff Francoeur returns to the Braves

The rebuilding Atlanta Braves have brought back rifle-armed rightfielder Jeff Francoeur, the only player in their camp who was part of the team’s 14-year title run, and invited pitchers David Carpenter, Kyle Kendrick, Jhoulys Chacin, and Alex and Carlos Torres, two ex-Mets.

Stars of the future are also among this year’s invitees. The New York Yankees, for example, have asked shortstop Jorge Mateo and outfielder Aaron Judge to attend spring training. The Houston Astros have brought in first baseman A.J. Reed, the 2015 Minor League Player of the Year, while the Braves have invited shortstop Dansby Swanson, the first man picked in last year’s amateur draft (by the Arizona Diamondbacks).

Now that the Los Angeles Dodgers have lost Zack Greinke to free agency, they will give long looks to promising prospects Julio Urias and Jose de Leon, both in camp but off the 40-man.

And how could we forget third baseman Will Middlebrooks and speed merchant Eric Young, Jr., both hoping their experience rubs off on the youth-oriented Milwaukee Brewers?

Met fans will also keep an eye on infielder Chase d’Arnaud, brother of star catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who is hoping to hook on to a backup role in Atlanta.

All the non-roster men will get to play early and often in the exhibition season that starts February 28.

Elsewhere in baseball:

Baltimore hit a home run by bagging Dexter Fowler, a fleet leadoff type, for three years . . .

Dexter Fowler takes his speed game to Camden Yards

Dexter Fowler takes his speed game to Camden Yards

Congratulations to ex-Yankee icon Don Mattingly, now Miami manager, for banning facial hair and thereby ordering his players to be presentable to the public . . .

If current negotiations serve as an accurate barometer, Toronto and slugger Jose Bautista will part company this fall . . .

National League MVP Bryce Harper can’t believe nobody has signed former teammate Ian Desmond, a shortstop with power, even though the signing team would have to give up an amateur draft choice . . .

You heard it here first: Cliff Lee had a great career but will never pitch again . . .

Signing Juan Uribe to play third base was a great move by the Cleveland Indians . . .

Shane Victorino should be the next free agent to sign for 2016 . . .

Don Mattingly's Marlins will be clean-shaven

Don Mattingly’s Marlins will be clean-shaven

Washington will love the lefthanded relief help of ex-Met Oliver Perez . . .

Texas is privately concerned about the barking left knee of slugger Josh Hamilton . . .

Because he blocked a winter swap to Washington, Brandon Phillips will get the bulk of the playing time at second base for Cincinnati, blocking hot prospect Jose Peraza . . .

Suspensions for off-season misbehavior are still likely for Aroldis Chapman (Yankees) and ex-Met Jose Reyes (Rockies) . . .

Now that John Schuerholz, architect of Atlanta’s unequalled 14-year title streak, has been elected to the Braves Hall of Fame, the Baseball Hall of Fame should follow suit.



About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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