Never Say Die
In Spring Time hope springs eternal. Even the most aged or down-and-out ballplayers believe they have at least one last hurrah left in them.
The Reds have just signed perennial comeback kid Mark Prior to a minor league deal. Since blowing his arm out in 2006, Prior has thrown a total of 49 professional innings over the last three seasons, after not pitching at all from 2007 through 2009.
Although Prior remains a real long-shot, his numbers at AAA Pawtucket last season at least create some room for hope. In 25 innings pitched, Prior had a 3.96 ERA with a pitching line of only 15 hits, but four HRs and 23 walks, allowed and 38 Ks. He’s still hard to hit, but his command is still long departed.
Vladimir Guerrero is looking for a minor league deal this Spring. He last played in the majors in 2011, but he’s still only 38 years old this year, assuming that 1975 is his real birth year (Guerrero admitted a couple of years back that he was older than he claimed when he originally signed with the Montreal Expos).
Guerrero played 12 minor league games for the Blue Jays last year, but asked for and received his release when the Jays did not immediately promote him to the majors. His unwillingness to stick it out longer in the minors might impact teams’ willingness to sign him this Spring, since the odds of him getting a major league job out of Spring Training seem slim.
Guerrero could still hit when he last played in the majors (between .290 and .300 each of his last three seasons), but his on-base percentages declined precipitously, and his power numbers were also on the wain. Even so, he could help a team in need of a right-handed hitter with pop, particularly if some one on the major league roster gets hurt.
Meanwhile, the Royals are still hoping to squeeze another year out of the soon to be 39 year old Miguel Tejada. They signed him in late December to a minor league deal that promises him $1.1 million if he makes the major league club.
Tejada hasn’t played in the majors since 2011 and had a terrible .596 OPS in 343 plate appearances for the Giants that year. Losing Buster Posey for most of the season was the biggest reason the Giants didn’t make the post-season in 2011, but giving Tejada so many plate appearances certainly didn’t help.
Tejada is hitting .267 with a .600 OPS in seven games so far this Spring Training.
Finally, Dontrelle Willis‘s most recent comeback, this time with the Cubs, hit a snag in his very first Spring Training game earlier this week. Only seven pitches in, Willis came out of the game with “shoulder tightness” — apparently meaning that his shoulder hurt.
Willis has said the injury is minor, and he is reportedly resumed his throwing schedule in the Cubs’ minor league camp. Willis wasn’t expected to make the Cubs’ major league roster this Spring, but it’s still disappointing that he couldn’t make it through one outing without hurting himself.