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MLB Grapefruit League Report: New CF in the Bronx?

Braves Hurler Faces Tough Demotion

While the World Baseball Classic steals plenty of headlines, there’s much to go over down in Florida this spring. Let’s check out the MLB News from the action out in the Sunshine State. We also have all the MLB spreads to make a bet online on spring training action and you can also check out some MLB playoff odds.

Yankees Shuffling the Deck?

With Aaron Hicks a less-than-ideal option and Harrison Bader now out with an oblique issue, center field is once again an area of need for the Yankees. They are reluctant to utilize Aaron Judge there, although he did play 78 games in center last season.

Oswald Peraza #91 of the New York Yankees
Oswald Peraza #91 of the New York Yankees | Julio aguilar/getty images/afp

Enter Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who is still in the mix for the starting shortstop job but did himself no favors with fans down the stretch and in the playoffs last year with some shaky play at the position.

“I think [Kiner-Falefa] could play that role really, really well because of his athleticism,” manager Aaron Boone told reporters, according to MLB.com. “He’s worked in the outfield the last couple of days, and I looked at some video of it the other day, just watching how his feet move and stuff.”

Boone went so far as to call Kiner-Falefa a “natural” in center. The potential move is made all the more possible because the team has two other candidates in camp vying for the starting shortstop gig. Anthony Volpe, a highly touted prospect, is batting .321 with a pair of homers entering Wednesday’s action. He could be a popular figure among MLB predictions for Rookie of the Year if the playing time is regular.

Oswald Peraza is another option at short.

IKF expects to play center Friday against Detroit. Regardless of how he performs, he knows being flexible will help him in the long run.

“I’m happy that I’m able to show [my versatility] off over the next couple of days,” Kiner-Falefa said. “I need a role on this team if I’m not playing shortstop. I have an opportunity over the next couple days to put myself in a role. If it’s not a shortstop, maybe that allows [the Yankees] to hold on to me.”

Ian Anderson Optioned

A former first-round pick, Ian Anderson forever has a place in Atlanta Braves lore with his five hitless innings in Game 3 of the 2021 World Series. But he’s struggling to find a role with the current roster as his decline continues.

Anderson, who burst onto the scene with six solid starts in 2020 and had a strong 2021 with 24 starts and a 3.58 ERA, struggled most of last year. He posted a 5.00 ERA while his strikeouts plummeted and his hits and walks soared before being shut down in August.

Spring training has been abysmal for Anderson, who has walked eight batters and given up six runs in 7⅓ innings. The struggles on top of struggles have forced Atlanta’s hand, and the organization optioned Anderson to Triple-A on Tuesday.

At one point a top-10 prospect in all of baseball, Anderson will have to work his way back.

Good New for Quintana

It’s been a difficult spring for Jose Quintana, who was sidelined with a rib injury that is expected to cause him to miss several months following surgery. He did, however, get some positive news when a lesion on the rib was found to be benign.

“This was bigger than baseball,” general manager Billy Eppler told reporters. “José’s got our support and anything he needs. I’m just really thankful we’re at least here as opposed to one of the other potential outcomes.”

Quintana’s procedure takes place Friday. He is expected to be out until at least July 1. Meanwhile, the Mets must work out options to fill in for Quintana, who posted a 2.95 ERA with Pittsburgh and St. Louis last year. David Peterson and Tyler Megill are two such options who made a combined 28 starts in 2022.

Dominguez Raking in Tampa

Sorry, Yankees haters, but here’s another note on New York, which is loving what it sees from one of its top prospects in Jasson Dominquez.

Just 20 as of last month, Dominguez has played only five games above Single-A ball, but he’s been hammering the ball against major league and high-minors talent all spring. Entering Wednesday, the outfielder from the Dominican Republic was 9-for-21 with four home runs and nine RBI in 10 Grapefruit League games.

He’ll certainly start out in the minors but might just rocket up to the big club in short order, especially if New York’s outfield situation remains rather lean.

“The track that he’s on, especially what we saw last year and what we’re seeing this spring, he could throw himself in the mix sooner rather than later,” Boone said.

Injury updates

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who was unable to take part in the WBC due to knee discomfort, was running the bases Sunday and Monday. He expects to return to game action soon for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Fellow slugger Yordan Alvarez (hand) of the Houston Astros has yet to play in a game but still hopes to be ready for Opening Day.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of how many at-bats [during spring],” Alvarez said. “It’s just when I feel good and when I feel comfortable in the batter’s box, I’m going to be OK.”

The Astros are obviously one of the more popular teams among MLB picks for the preseason, but they may not have much juice if Alvarez isn’t healthy.

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