The World Baseball Classic began Wednesday (in the U.S.) with Cuba taking on The Netherlands in Taiwan. As that schedule heats up, spring training camps take on a different vibe with several players on almost every team leaving town to help their countrymen. There’s still plenty of action in Florida, however, and we’ve got you covered on the MLB News front with this week’s Grapefruit League roundup. We also have all you need to know about the WBC and how to make a bet online there.
Red Sox Remain Unbeaten
Of course, it doesn’t mean much in the long run, but it can’t hurt to have some good vibes channeling through camp. The Red Sox, a team certainly in need of some good vibes after a down season and an awkward offseason, have been able to give more postgame high fives than anyone out there with an incredible 8-0 start to their spring slate. Those making MLB picks might find the early wins help Boston to have a smoother start than others.
The latest win was a 10-2 rout of Atlanta on Tuesday, with all 10 runs coming in the final six frames. Triston Casas continued his solid spring with two hits — including an RBI double — and Christian Arroyo ran his RBI count to a team-high seven.
Perhaps the best recent development for the Sox was the spring debut of Chris Sale, who smiled as he left a start that meant a lot to the oft-injured lefty.
Sale threw two scoreless innings against Detroit on Monday in his first game action since breaking a pinky on a line drive at Yankee Stadium in July (which came after the fractured rib and before the broken wrist).
The seven-time All-Star is on track to be part of the Opening Day active roster for the first time since 2019.
Turner Takes One in the Eye
It hasn’t all been sunshine and puppies in Red Sox camp, however. The scariest moment of the season so far was Justin Turner getting drilled with a pitch in the face against Detroit on Monday in Fort Myers.
The pitch was thrown by Detroit Tigers right-hander Matt Manning, who stressed that it just got away from him and he was hoping to reach out to Turner when he could. As for Turner, the early news was somewhat positive.
“Justin Turner was taken to a local hospital after being hit in the face by a pitch,” the Red Sox said in a statement. “He is receiving treatment for soft tissue injuries and is being monitored for a concussion. He will undergo further testing, and we’ll update you as we have more information. Justin is stable, alert, and in good spirits given the circumstances.”
Turner took to social media the following day to thank his doctors and Red Sox staff, promising to be back on the field soon.
Judge Is on the Board
Aaron Judge has plenty of attention on him this spring as he looks to follow up his 62-home run campaign while walking around with a pretty fat wallet. The MLB predictions section has Judge as the early favorite to repeat as Home Run king.
He launched his first homer of the spring against Pittsburgh on Monday night. Judge also has two doubles and one single in eight at-bats while walking once with zero strikeouts, so he’s seeing the ball well early on.
“After everything that transpired last season, I try to still do what I did last year, which is take it one at-bat at a time and focus on helping the team win,” he said.
The judge is expected to play left field for the first time Wednesday night. He suggested the move to manager Aaron Boone as a way to get Giancarlo Stanton some starts in the right field from time to time.
Stats Here, Get Your Stats Here
St. Louis Cardinals prospect Jordan Walker, a third baseman, entered Wednesday with the Grapefruit League lead with 10 hits. Three of them left the yard and three were doubles for the 21-year-old phenom.
Pete Alonso and Alec Bohm are among a handful of other players tied with Walker for the Grapefruit lead with those three homers.
Matthew Boyd, trying to revive his career as a starter in a second go-round with Detroit, has the early lead in strikeouts in Florida with 11. He fanned seven in just three innings against the Cardinals on Tuesday night.
Vlad Among Early Injury Concerns
A stacked Dominican Republic team became slightly less stacked when Vladimir Guerrero was forced to withdraw due to right knee soreness. An MRI revealed no damage but the inflammation was enough to alter the plan for the man who sits sixth in AL MVP chances on the MLB odds sheet.
Another guy who had to withdraw from the WBC was New York Mets lefty Jose Quintana, who has been diagnosed with a small stress fracture in a rib. He felt discomfort during an outing Sunday and an MRI revealed the damage.
The Mets have some very strong MLB playoff odds but this is an early blow for a veteran who figured to slot in behind Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander in a deep rotation.
New York’s chief rival, Atlanta, has made some good progress with second baseman Ozzie Albies, who has been cleared to play the field for the first time after undergoing arthroscopic surgery last October. He had been serving as the DH only early in camp.