Saturday, January 30, 2010

One-time A's Future Closer Joey Devine on Mend

Struggling young pitcher Joey Devine, the one-time closer-of-the-future for the Oakland Athletics, has told a teammate that his recovery from "Tommy John surgery" is on schedule and that he looks forward to game action early next season.

"He thinks that by the end of spring training he'll be ready to face live batters," said former A's closer and now setup man Brad Ziegler in an interview with Sirrius/XM MLB radio channel 175.

Devine, 27, had been given Oakland's closer job during last year's spring camp but underwent elbow surgery in April, after having sustained discomfort likely related to that which interrupted his season the year before. Twelve months is a typical recovery time from the surgical procedure in which the ulner collateral ligament is replaced.

Devine formerly had been cast in the role of future closer for the Braves, but was held back by control problems that ultimately may have manifested in disablement.

The Athletics have since found a closer in the person of Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey.

Clay Buchholz to Fight for Red Sox Rotation Spot

Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz -- seen by some insiders as a candidate for the bullpen due his team's signing of former Angel ace John Lackey -- has vowed to fight for a rotation spot, even if it pits him against veteran Tim Wakefield.

"I don't want to be over confident that I have a spot," the 25-year-old Buchholz told the Boston Herald. "...Knowing that 'Wake' is back to normal and is going to be here for two more years, he's been here a lot longer than I have. I'm sure he's got seniority on that spot, but I'm going to do what I can to be one of the five guys and go from there if it doesn't happen."

At the same time Wakefield, 44, has expressed frustration at the prospect of having once again to prove himself worthy of being a starter now with Lackey, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka holding down the first four spots in the rotation.

Buchholz was called up from Tripe A Pawtucket when Wakefield went down with an injury last year, and went on to notch a 7-4 record with a 4.21 ERA.

General Manager Theo Epstein told the newspaper that he has remained noncommittal about who will win the No. 5 spot, warning that it is too soon to tell who will be healthy when the season begins.

Ex-D-Back Says Brandon Webb Healthy, Strong

A former Arizona Diamondbacks teammate says right-handed hurler Brandon Webb -- who missed virtually the entire season last year with shoulder difficulties -- is healthy and strong, and is looking to resume his career as one of the National League's premier starters.

"He's feeling great right now," said former Diamondbacks lefty Doug Davis. "He's healthy and strong as well."

Davis, a cancer survivor who last week inked a contract with the Brewers, told Sirrius/XM radio MLB channel 175 that he maintains regular telephone contact with Webb, who is traveling east with his family in Davis' recreational vehicle, which Webb borrowed. Davis said he spoke with Webb as recently as Friday.

Webb had been coming off a 22-7 season in 2008, when he notched a 3.30 ERA and struck out 183 in 226 innings. But he came out of his first game last year with shoulder stiffness, ultimately undergoing arthroscopic surgery in August with the objective of returning to action by spring.

A microscopic camera revealed no structural damage, signaling that Webb likely can expect to return to the mound without a serious setback other than anticipated rustiness associated with his lengthy layoff.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus Sizzles in Caracas

Standout major league shortstop Elvis Andrus -- having received permission from Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan to delay preparations for travel to spring training in Arizona -- homered for the Mariners in a 7-3 triumph over the Lions in the fifth game of Venezuelan National Baseball League Championship Tuesday in Caracas, the nation's capital.

Play resumes Thursday.

The Mariners now lead the the Lions 3-2 in the seven-game set, with Andrus hitting at a .421 clip, or 8-19. He and brother Erold Andrus, a former prospect in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays system, both homered, the first time brothers have gone deep in the same game in the history of the series. They are Venezuelan natives.

Elvis Andrus initially was to begin preparing for his upcoming departure to Arizona after the fifth game, but received the OK from Texas to stay for the conclusion of the series. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to the Rangers Cactus League training facility in Surprise, Ariz. on Feb. 18, with a workout scheduled the following day.

Andrus was expected to appear this week at the Ballpark at Arlington for a promotional minicamp.

At 20, the former top prospect in the Atlanta Braves organization, was acquired as part of the Mark Teixiera trade, and fairly delighted the Rangers when he finished second in the Rookie-of-the-Year voting after hitting .267 with 33 steals and 72 runs scored in his 2009 campaign.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ex-Cubs Ace Mark Prior Refuses to Give Up

Former Cubs ace Mark Prior -- whose promising career has been nearly destroyed by a myriad of punishing injuries -- refuses to hang up his spikes and has been readying himself for a demonstration before major league scouts in Arizona.

"Mark Prior has not retired," a spokesperson for Prior's agent John Boggs said in terse statement with no details of the 29-year-old hurler's progress during an ongoing rehabilitation program resumed in November.

Neither was there word on any throwing sessions scheduled with observers from teams throughout the majors, though sources familiar with long-shot comeback attempts said such meetings often are held unofficially, one-on-one behind closed doors.

Prior seems to be keeping a low profile, but reportedly was seen in street clothes on New Year's Day in La Jolla, Calif., near his hometown of San Diego. He is recovering from shoulder damage that required multiple surgical repairs, and he also has sustained hamstring, achilles tendon, elbow and oblique injuries.

Prior signed a $1 million contract with the Padres in 2008 but was unable to appear in a single game. He then agreed to an additional $1 million contract with the Padres the following year, contingent upon his callup from the minor leagues.

Again Prior was unable to make even a single appearance, having last pitched in a major league game in 2006, when he went 1-6 with a 7.71 ERA for the Cubs.

Prior signed for a then-record $10.5 million bonus as the second overall pick in the 2001 draft. He notched his most successful season in 2003, when he went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA while striking out 245 batters in 211.1 innings.