FLB: Spring Training Notebook 3/26


Chien-Ming Wang "felt something" while running on Friday morning, according to Newsday, and the "something" turned out to be a pulled right hamstring. Wang will reportedly miss most of April because of the injury. As a result, Jeff Karstens is likely to become the team's fifth starter for the season's first month, and if he dramatically outpitches Carl Pavano and/or Kei Igawa, Karstens could stay in the rotation longer. Unfortunately, according to the Journal News, Karstens was removed from his Sunday start because of "elbow stiffness." If that winds up being a problem, and Karstens can't start the year, Darrell Rasner would almost certainly make the rotation, because, well, he's about all that's left. Meanwhile, because Andy Pettitte has had back troubles of late, and with the Yankees unwilling to mess with Mike Mussina's schedule, it's possible your Opening Day New York Yankees starting pitcher will be … Pavano.

• The disaster continues for Chone Figgins owners. Friday, the Angels announced that Figgins has a second fracture in his right index finger (the first is in his right middle finger, which Figgy's owners are flexing a lot these days). He's expected to miss as many as six weeks, which would translate to the regular season's first month. Maicer Izturis is officially a major league regular: the starting third baseman on your Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Robb Quinlan could pick up some additional playing time as well.

• Pittsburgh GM Dave Littlefield finally acknowledged something we've been speculating about for a couple of weeks: Freddy Sanchez has a real chance of beginning the year on the disabled list because of his injured knee. He can't run, and won't play in a game for at least several more days. Littlefield said Jose Castillo will play second in place of Sanchez, which implies that Jose Bautista has won the primary third base gig. That's good news, if he can maintain decent defense and hit .250, because the pop is there.

Kelvim Escobar left the Angels' Saturday exhibition game holding his rib cage. Can you believe it? Less durable than a five-dollar pair of sneakers, Escobar has exceeded 200 innings just once in his major league career, and doesn't figure to do so this year. But when he's in there, he sure is good. Anyway, the LA Times reports Mike Scioscia isn't that concerned about Escobar. "We'll have time to get him where he needs to be," Scioscia said.

• The LA Times also reported this weekend that Tony Abreu subbed for Rafael Furcal on Saturday, and that if Furcal misses time to begin the year, Abreu might wind up being the beneficiary. There are reportedly no plans to move Nomar Garciaparra from first (despite James Loney's immense spring), and Abreu probably has a bit more power potential than the other shortstop alternatives. Still, the Dodgers are hopeful Furcal doesn't have ligament damage in his ankle.

• Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced Saturday what many have speculated: Barry Bonds will be his No. 3 hitter this season. Considering the way Bonds tortured Bochy's Padres for years, Bochy probably knows best. Ray Durham is expected to be the cleanup hitter, and the Giants' official Web site speculates that Dave Roberts and Omar Vizquel are just about certain to occupy the top two spots. Durham was exceedingly valuable hitting in front of Bonds last year, so maybe that gives Vizquel a power pop this year.

• As we've hinted for a couple of weeks, the White Sox have named 21-year-old lefty rookie John Danks their fifth starter, over Gavin Floyd. Of the trades which brought these two pitchers during this offseason, the one that sent Brandon McCarthy to Texas is sounding a lot sweeter than the one that sent Freddy Garcia for Floyd (and Gio Gonzalez). Danks is going to be a really good starter in a couple of years, but he's got "Caution: Flammable" stamped across his backside for this season.

• The Philly flip-flopping continues. Now Jon Lieber is hurt, and Freddy Garcia is playing catch and talking about being OK to begin the year. Lieber injured his right oblique pitching in Saturday's exhibition game, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Phillies don't know when he'll be able to throw again. Meanwhile, Garcia was able to take it easy during a long toss on Saturday, and says he'll actually be OK to take his start the first week of the regular season.

Angel Berroa, we hardly knew ye. OK, well, no, we completely knew ye, and ye sucked. Berroa was the 2003 American League Rookie of the Year, but has been hilariously inept since, and multiple sources over the years have reported Berroa hasn't exactly been the hardest worker, either. Anyway, the Royals finally sent Berroa to the minors on Sunday, a day after Kansas City acquired Tony Pena Jr. from Atlanta. Pena won't have attitude problems, but unfortunately, he's a poor hitter, and you don't want to own him, even in AL-only leagues. Pena did hit .283 at Triple-A last year, but that was as a 25-year-old repeating the level. He's got no power and no patience, and he's not much of an upgrade over Andres Blanco. Either way, it's the end of a meteoric rise and fall for Berroa.

• The Marlins' official Web site reports that Jeremy Hermida, who blasted a foul ball off his own knee last week, is still out indefinitely. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that it's possible Hermida will be ready to go as early as Wednesday or Thursday, but he's been cold so far this spring, so it's also possible Florida could disable Hermida, let him take his time, and go with a combination of Joe Borchard and Cody Ross in right field.

• More youth in the outfield: The Arizona Republic reports that Carlos Quentin, who has a tear in his non-throwing labrum, had a cortisone injection Thursday, and could take batting practice early in the week. The Diamondbacks don't view Quentin's injury as season-threatening, but there's clearly concern.

Brad Penny, who missed his last exhibition start because of shoulder stiffness, threw nearly 80 pitches during a bullpen session this weekend, according to the Dodgers' official Web site. Penny said he threw all this pitches and felt fine.

• The Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers manager Jim Leyland will use Ivan Rodriguez as his leadoff hitter against lefties this year. Curtis Granderson will lead off against righties.

• Royals starter Luke Hudson will probably begin the season on the disabled list, according to the team's official Web site. Hudson has suffered through shoulder soreness for the past week, and though an MRI taken Thursday revealed nothing significant, he's only made appearances in two spring exhibition games.

• The Ambiorix Burgos apologists excoriated me when I pelted him with some word-bullets earlier this spring, but who's pelting now? According to the Mets' official Web site, it appears that Burgos will begin the year at Triple-A, about three weeks after Willie Randolph virtually guaranteed Burgos would be on the big league roster in April. Burgos has been awful this spring, mostly struggling with his control, which is his history.

Lastings Milledge was hit on his right pinkie by a pitch in the ninth inning of Sunday's exhibition game. The Mets' official Web site reports that at first the team was worried Milledge had suffered a fracture, but after X-rays were done, they're convinced it's just a bruise, and he should be back in action by next weekend.

• Believe it or not, it looks as though Dmitri Young has won the starting first base job in Washington, according to The Associated Press. Young's leading competitor for the job since Larry Broadway was demoted had been Travis Lee, but Lee asked for his release Sunday. Young seems like something of a high risk as far as off-field stuff goes, but on the field, he's a pretty good power hitter who should be owned in NL-only leagues.

Nook Logan pulled his groin in Saturday's exhibition game, according to The Associated Press. Logan had to be removed, and is likely to miss two weeks of playing time, which means he won't be out there for Opening Day. Ryan Church is likely to get the center field job for the moment, while Chris Snelling could begin the year playing every day in left. Truth be told, that would be a better arrangement for the entire season.

• According to the Washington Post, Nationals No. 1 starter John Patterson "kind of passed out" while shagging fly balls on Saturday. Perhaps Patterson was reliving the knowledge that Jim Bowden didn't trade Alfonso Soriano while he could last year? Anyway, Washington manager Manny Acta chalked Patterson's problems up to "dehydration," and said he expected his top starter to be fine.

Christopher Harris covers fantasy sports for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.