Friday, March 31, 2006

A Great Spring, But...

I know. I know. Spring Training doesn't mean anything. But the Royals are 16-9-2, just a game and a half out of first in the Cactus League, and they've obviously found a way to score runs this spring. Mike Sweeney claims that the guys on this team are closer than in previous years. And apparently he's predicted that he's going to play 160 games this year since he considers himself to be in the best shape of his life. I don't see how he can make such a predication given his recent track record, but if he does stay healthy, the Royals will indeed score more runs this season.

I'm still concerned about our starting staff—especially in light of who our "ace" is. Scott Elarton has a 6.55 ERA in his five starts this spring. He's given up 39 hits in 22 innings. On what planet is that grounds for being an ace? Or even a number five guy? Runelvys Hernandez is out of shape and probably shouldn't even be our number five guy. Joe Mays—our number two guy—has a Jose Lima-like 7.45 ERA this spring. Jeremy Affeldt went from struggling to make the rotation to being our number three guy. And Denny Bautista is probably where he should be in the number four spot.

On Wednesday, we got into another slugfest—this time with Seattle, and the game ended in a 10-10 tie. Scott Elarton gave up 7 ER in 5 IP and in the process, he got taken deep three times. Graffanino, who started at first base, launched a grand slam and Berroa hit a three-run shot. I don't expect this to be the norm though. We've got to figure out a way to get guys out. We're never going to be able to compete over the long haul by out-slugging teams.

The Royals are off to Houston for the weekend where they will wrap up exhibition play before opening the season at home on Monday afternoon against Detroit.

McEwing Traded to Astros

Joe McEwing will apparently get a crack at playing at the major league level this season after all. The Royals traded him yesterday for a player to be named to the Astros who have been looking for a utility man. Royal Reflections wishes McEwing well in Houston.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Costa Wins Final OF Spot

I don't know what Aaron Guiel did or said that landed him in Royal purgatory (Omaha) for all eternity, but the Royals don't appear to be in a mood to show him any mercy. Last season, when we desperately needed a power hitting corner outfielder, Guiel hit 30 HR with 95 RBI in Omaha. This spring, Guiel camp into camp with the notion that he actually had a shot at making the roster.

Guiel hit .351 in 13 games this spring with 2 HR, 8 RBI, 10 BB and had a .479 OBP. When Ambres was designated for assignment, the battle for the fourth outfield position came down to Shane Costa and Guiel. Costa put up mediocre numbers this spring in 17 games (.286, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB and a .311 OBP), but nothing to make a person believe that he would actually win the spot. Then came the announcement yesterday that Costa did indeed win the job.

"We know Aaron can help this ballclub,” said Bell in an article in the Star this morning. "But Shane is a younger kid who we feel is ready to do something in the big leagues.

"Talent-wise, they might be the same player—but Shane is younger, and we want to get him going."

Okay. Costa is 24. Guiel is 33. But if Guiel never had a shot because of his age, why give him the illusion that he did?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

McEwing: Odd Man Out

You've got to feel for Joe McEwing. He plays hard. He plays anywhere he's told—unlike a guy who plays for the Washington Nationals. And he's a guy who you can feel confident in when a starter goes down.

He hit .436 (17 for 39) in 21 games this spring and he still didn't make the team. The addition of Tony Graffanino to the roster did him in. The battle for the 25th spot came down to McEwing vs. Esteban German. And while we know what we are getting with McEwing, he's 33. German, full of promise and the dreaded "potential" word, is only 28. But it's hard to ignore what German has done this spring.

German is hitting .317, but he's also walked 12 times and stolen 8 bases while only striking out twice. That tells me that the guy has incredible patience at the plate, he knows where the strike zone is, and he forces pitchers to throw strikes—which he apparently has little trouble hitting. Once he's on base, he can obviously run. Eight stolen bases in just 22 games is impressive.

Imagine Bell looking down the bench to see who's available to pinch run at the end of a tight game—who would he rather see, McEwing or German? And if we need a guy to pinch hit in that same scenario, who would Bell rather see? McEwing's career OBP is just .303. German's OBP this spring is .473. McEwing has a great OBP this spring as well, but over the long haul, it hasn't been good enough. Maybe German's won't be good enough either, but it looks like he's going to nail down the final spot on the roster.

McEwing does have the option of being assigned to Omaha, which I hope that he accepts. I know that he wants to play at the major league level, and who can blame the guy? But he's one injury away from playing in KC and by the end of April he'd probably be back on the roster. Whatever he decides to do, I wish him well. I wish more guys played the game as hard as he does.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Royals Claim Andrade

The Royals also claimed 28 year-old relief pitcher Steve Andrade off the waiver wire today from the San Diego Padres. He pitched in Double-A for New Hampshire last season in which he was 3-2 with a 1.97 ERA and 3 saves in just over 50 innings of work. Bell sees Andrade as competing for one of the final bullpen positions with Leo Nunez, Steve Stemle, Luke Hudson, and Joel Peralta.

Andrade has bounced around from one organization to the next and has never seen major league action. He's mostly pitched in Double-A since being drafted in 2001 by the Angels. The exception was 2004 in which he pitched at the Triple-A level, going 0-1 with a 4.61 ERA in 12 appearances with the Salt Lake club.

Graffanino Back in Royal Blue

Tony Graffanino is a Royal again. The Royals plucked him off the waiver wire after the Red Sox placed him there. And how's this for irony? Chip Ambres, one of two players the Royals obtained from the Red Sox last July for Graffanino, was designated for assignment

I like having Tony in Royal blue again. He's a hard-working player who can handle the bat well and he's still a good fielder. But this pick up seems a little odd given where we were just a few months ago regarding the second base position. We traded for Esteban German and temporarily planned to start him at second. They we signed Mark Grudzielanek and deemed him the starter. Now we've signed Graf, with the idea of him playing a backup role (he played first, second, short, and third last year). Where does that leave German?

German has been logging time at third base this spring for the Royals and he's put up good numbers (.316, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 10 BB—which leads the team, and he's stolen 5 bases). He's 28. If he's not ready now—when will he be? Surely we won't keep him at third with our logjam there.

With Ambres temporarily out of the picture, the battle for the last outfield position comes down to Aaron Guiel and Shane Costa. Given the way that Guiel has played this spring, I think you've got to give him the job.

Hernandez to the DL

The Royals placed Runelvys Hernandez on the 15-day DL due to "stamina" issues.

"I'm just concerned about his stamina and durability. He needs to work on getting up his pitch count," Bell is quoted as saying in an article on "He hits 50 pitches and just kind of loses it."

How is it possible that a guy who makes a living as an athlete comes into camp so far out of shape that he can't even perform—let alone perform at a high level? For some reason, Bell is defending Hernandez by saying that it's a little unfair to say that Hernandez is going on the DL because he's overweight.

I guess he's just protecting his player and wants him to know that he believes in him, but it seems to me that somebody needs to be honest with Hernandez. Now the Royals have to shift their newly shaped rotation to accommodate a guy who didn't care enough about the team to get into shape.

Mays moves to the number two spot. Affeldt to the number three spot. And Bautista to the number four spot. The fifth spot is not necessary right due to all of the scheduled off days at the beginning of the season, but if Hernandez is able to actually throw more than 50 pitches in a game by mid-April, he'll take over the number five spot.

Royals Trounce Giants

For the fifteenth time this spring, the Royals score six or more runs in a game. They scored many more than six runs yesterday against the Giants. They trounced them 15-6 behind a decent outing by Affeldt (6.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 K, 2 BB).

Shane Costa was 2-for-3 and continues to impress. Mientkiewicz was 2-for-3 and somehow raised his average to .488. Berroa was 3-for-5 (and of course, he didn't walk in this game either). Aaron Guiel was 3-for-3 with 4 RBI and raised his average to .343. I don't know how we can possibly leave him off the Opening Day roster—especially given the way that Chip Ambres has struggled at the plate (.191 average). Mark Teahen was 2-for-4 which puts him at the .300 mark and I'm starting to feel much better about him now. If Alex Gordon keeps hitting the way he has been though, you have to wonder if Teahen's days in Royal blue are numbered. Backup catcher Paul Bako was 2-for-4, bringing his average to .417.

We have hitters who are playing way over their heads right now and consequently, we've won a lot of games this spring. But we've also given up too many runs and we can't compete in the slugfest department over the long haul.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Payroll Can Still Expand

According to an article in the KC Star yesterday, the 2006 opening day payroll for the Royals will be about $45.8 million—which is $4.2 million short of what Glass has said is available. According to the article, Glass is still making the $4.2 million available "to supplement its current roster." Perhaps that will make way for a trade in which we can take on salary if the need arises—and I'm guessing that it will.

Affeldt, Bautista Join Rotation

We finally found out who the number four and five guys are going to be in the rotation: Jeremy Affeldt (who has added a cutter to his repertoire for this season) is number four. Denny Bautista in number five. And mike Wood goes to long relief. I'm guessing he'll be the first to get a crack at the rotation when someone either goes down or struggles.

I'm encouraged by the fact that the Royals sent J.P. Howell to Omaha last week. He showed little ability last season to get major league hitters out, but that hasn't stopped the Royals from throwing guys like Jimmy Gobble and Zack Greinke to the wolves. Maybe we've finally learned a lesson. While Elarton, Redman, and Mays are probably not the answer, they may be the short term answer while our younger guys get experience in Omaha.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Bautista Shines

You've got to love competition. After Affeldt pitched lights out against the Mariners yesterday, Denny Bautista posted nearly identical numbers when he one-hit the Padres today for five innings in a game the Royals went on to win 7-0. I'm not crazy about the three walks Bautista issued, but it's hard to complain about his performance today.

Mike Wood, another contender for one of the two remaining spots in the rotation, goes against the Angels tomorrow. If he pitches well tomorrow, I hope Bell leaves him in the game for the third time through the line up—that's been his big problem the past couple of seasons when has been allowed to start. I'm anxious to see if he's improved his stuff enough to pull it off.

Emil Brown blasted a grand slam home run in the fifth inning to put the game out of reach. If his back is still tender, it must be feeling a little better. Doug Mientkiewicz picked up three more hits and he's now hitting a slow-pitch softball-like .487 for the spring. Angel Berroa had two more hits—and you guessed it, zero walks. The guy still hasn't walked yet this spring. Unbelievable.

David DeJesus is nursing a tight left hamstring and missed his second game in a row. Mike Sweeney is still out with an ankle bruise.

Affeldt Shuts Down the M's.

Jeremy Affeldt made a strong case yesterday for a spot in the rotation. He one-hit the Mariners for six innings, giving up one run, and walking one. All of a sudden, he's 2-1 with a 3.93 ERA. With Mike Wood still pitching extremely well, the battle for the last remaining spot appears to be between Affeldt and Bautista. Bautista goes against the Padres this afternoon and obviously, this is a huge outing for him.

With the 4-1 victory over Seattle yesterday, the Royals are 11-7 in Cactus League play—just a 1.5 games out from the first place Angels. I used to get pretty excited about good spring training win-loss records, but not so much any more. Yeah, the last time the Royals won the Cactus League Championship was 2003 and we all remember what happened that year. But with so many question marks in our rotation, I'm not all that sure that we are as good as our record indicates. I think we owe our spring success to guys who are putting up incredible offensive numbers:

  • Joe McEwing is hitting .500 (16-for-32).
  • Doug Mientkiewicz is hitting .457 (16-for-35) with 13 RBI.
  • Paul Phillips is hitting .423 (11-for-26).
  • Alex Gordon is hitting .407 (11-for-27).
  • Angel Berroa is hitting .400 (12-for-30), with zero BB.
  • Reggie Sanders is hitting .385 (10-for-26).
  • Most of our other starters are at or over .300.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

All-Star Game Comes to KC, Maybe

Talk about pressure. Bud Selig has agreed to give KC the All-Star game sometime between 2010 and 2014 if the sales tax referendum passes on April 4. Read more about it here.

Injuries, Injuries

The injury bug is biting early and often in Royals camp this season. Here are a few thoughts about them:

Mark Redman went down with a left knee injury in his first game this spring. He had arthroscopic surgery and it sounds like he is making great progress. This report says that he may be ready as soon as April 14. But even if he's ready, surely he'll need to throw some innings in Omaha or during extended camp in Arizona to get sharp.

Zack Greinke has an injury of sorts. He's dealing with emotional issues. The Royals have decided not to place him on the 60-day DL, which means that they expect him back before the end of May or early June. But, what sort of shape will he be in when he does return? Like Redman, Greinke is going to need some work in Omaha or Arizona before he's ready.

Mike Sweeney went down already with a deep ankle bruise, but he's expected to be back in the line up before the end of the week. So far his back is holding up, let's hope it continues to.

Mike MacDougal injured a muscle in his shoulder and is going to be out for six weeks. MacDougal rarely recovers quickly from injuries and I don't expect this one to be any different. Ambiorix Burgos will become the closer. Bell sounds like he's toying with the idea of giving Affeldt a shot at the back end of the bullpen, but so far, no decision has been made.

Reggie Sanders and Emil Brown are both nursing minor injuries and are expected back soon.

Soriano Caves

Alfonso Soriano with the Washington Nationals makes $10 million a year to play a game. You'd think that paying him that sort of money would give his manager the right to tell him what position he'll play, but Soriano doesn't think so.

A few days ago, Soriano refused to play left field when manager Frank Robinson told him to do so. Then he refused again the next day. That prompted Nationals' GM Jim Bowden to threaten Soriano with the disqualification list—which meant that Soriano wouldn't have been paid until he changed his mind. Bowden had apparently already started to consult with MLB to make sure he could move Soriano to the DQ list, but Soriano caved and agreed to play left field today.

If I were the Nationals' GM, I would still put Soriano on the DQ list. Refusing to play where his manager told him to is grounds for disqualification—and frankly, in my mind, I'd be looking to dump this headache somewhere else. I don't care how good Soriano is at the plate (and even that is debatable—he swings at everything and strikes out way too much), he doesn't deserve a spot on a major league roster.

I'm currently reading a book called The Last Nine Innings by Charles Euchner. In a chapter in which Euchner discusses "swinging styles," he said this: "Old-timers often disdain the uppercut. In its early days, baseball was a game of singles and doubles. Hall of Fame players like Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, and Nelson Fox mastered the art of getting their bat on the ball, punching the ball through infield holes and outfield gaps. In an era dominated by pitching and fielding—as well as a Puritan ethic of small, unpretentious contributions to a team's offense—batters learned to swing down on the ball."

Imagine that—a puritan work ethic that was more concerned with the success of the team than an individual's next contract. What I wouldn't give for a return to those days. Whatever happened to running ground balls out, or bunting runners over, or slapping a ball to the right side to advance a runner? None of those things are nearly as sexy, but so what?

I'd love to see baseball teams either cut guys like Soriano loose (which is difficult to do in MLB with guaranteed contracts) or DQ them for a long period of time. Insubordination doesn't work in the real world and it shouldn't in MLB either.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Down Go the Evil Yankees

Yeah, the Yankee-hater in me is rearing its beautiful head. I couldn't help but laugh when Team USA lost to Team Mexico yesterday. I haven't followed the WBC because I don't care about it, but I do know the outcome of two games:

1. Team Canada's win (with two back up Royals) over Team USA (basically the evil Yankees or former evil Yankees and a few other guys thrown in to make it look good).

2. Team Mexico's win over Team USA (with the same evil Yankees)—and seeing former evil Yankee Roger Clemens getting tagged with the loss in what may be his last game is just too sweet.

Back to your regularly scheduled Royals postings.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Rotation

The Rotation is shaping up this way:

1. Scott Elarton has been named the Opening Day starter. Who would have ever expected that? Especially after being hit so hard this spring. He's 1-0, with a 7.71 ERA in his two starts. He's given up 11 H, but at least he's only walked one guy. On that statistic alone, he probably should be our Opening Day starter.

2. Runelvys Hernandez is the number two guy. He's been wild as all get-out this spring—walking five guys in 8.1 IP. His ERA is a tolerable 4.32, but he's already given up 3 HR. BB + long ball = bad season. Hopefully he can figure out his control problems before the season starts.

3. Joe Mays is the number three guy and according to Bell, "throwing like he did a couple of years ago." A couple of years ago, he missed the entire 2004 season. But I hope that Bell wasn't referring to Mays' 2003 campaign in which he was 8-8 with a 6.30 ERA. I'd prefer that he threw like last season instead, even though it wasn't much better: 6-10 with a 5.65 ERA. No matter how you slice it, slotting Mays in the number three position shows that our rotation is already in trouble.

The Rest:

Mike Wood looks like he has a shot at the rotation with Redman and Greinke on the shelf temporarily. He threw five shutout innings in his last appearance, and he's 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA. He's striking guys out (10) and not walking many (2) in 12 IP. He's better suited for long relief and an occasional spot start because his stuff just isn't good enough to get guys out the third time through the line up. But right now, he probably should be the number two guy.

Jeremy Affeldt is struggling. In his three appearances, he's 1-1 with a 5.63 ERA. And surprisingly, he only has two strikeouts in 8 IP. Things aren't looking good for Jeremy regarding his quest to rejoin the rotation.

Denny Bautista is also struggling. In fact, his numbers are almost identical to Affeldt's. Bautista is 0-1 with a 5.63 ERA in three appearances. Baird and Bell continue to say that they are happy with Bautista's release point (over the top) and say it's a good indication that he's fully recovered from arm surgery that sidelined him most of last season. We'll see.

J. P. Howell is coming off a horrible season (3-5, 6.19 ERA in 15 starts with KC), but in his two relief appearances this spring, he has a 1.80 ERA with 6 K and only 1 BB in 5 IP. Right now, he has as good a shot as any of the other guys vying for the final two spots in the rotation.

Jimmy Gobble seems to be settling into a relief role nicely. He hasn't started for the Royals yet this spring and in his three relief appearances, he has a 3.60 ERA. At this point, he may be better suited to pitch out of the pen.

Kyle Snyder doesn't really even appear to be in the running for spot in the rotation. In his four relief appearances, his ERA is sitting at 12.00. I'm disappointed because I really think Snyder has potential. But potential only gets a person so far.

If I had to guess, Mike Wood will probably nail down the number four spot in the rotation and Denny Bautista will start the year in the number five spot—although with all the off days in the schedule early on, he may not even get a shot until mid-April, and that's when Redman will probably be coming back.

The Apes of Old?

Anybody notice that Kevin Appier has thrown five scoreless innings in two relief appearances this spring for the Mariners? He's only given up two hits and he's struck out four. As a non-roster invitee, he's a long shot to make the 40-man roster, but you've got to admire his effort. So far this spring, 16 of the 31 Mariner pitchers have an ERA of 9.00 or higher. Who knows—we might just get to see Apes pitch again.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Padres Down Royals 8-3

The Padres beat the Royals yesterday 8-3. Chip Ambres hit two solo home runs and Jeremy Affeldt gave up two solo home runs.

After the game, I liked what Ambres had to say in this article: "I figured something out in 2004 and last year kind of carried it over," Ambres said. "This year, I'm trying to be consistent. I'm not a home run hitter. My job is just to drive in runs when they are there and just get on base and score anyway."

Now we need people like Angel Berroa and Ruben Gotay to embrace the same philosophy. Unfortunately, Ambres learned this philosophy while playing for the Red Sox. I know it's early in camp still, but Berroa has played four games and hasn't walked once yet. How many more games do you think he'll play before he draws his first walk considering that he only walked 18 times in 159 games last season?

Redman Undergoes Surgery

The Royals wasted no time in putting Mark Redman under the knife. He had arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday and we don't know when he'll be back. With all of the off days early in the season, we aren't expecting to go to a five man rotation until mid-April, so he has about five weeks to rehab the knee. But even if he does, he will have missed all of spring training and we really can't expect him to be sharp without any work.

With Greinke gone indefinitely, this rotation is already looking shaky. Elarton, Mays, and Hernandez are probably locks at this point while Affeldt, Bautista, Wood, Howell, and possibly Gobble battle for the other two positions. Elarton got shelled in his first outing of the spring. Mays is a huge question mark. Hernandez came into camp out of shape. Affeldt is injury prone. Bautista missed most of last season with an injury. Wood seems best suited for middle relief. Howell looked horrible last season at the big league level. And Gobble hasn't shown the ability to get guys out at this level consistently either. Surely, one or two of these guys will step up and have a decent season, but right now, I see more question marks than I see answers.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Redman Injured

I tuned in yesterday online to hear my first Royals broadcast of the spring. After waiting all winter to hear Denny and Ryan call a Royals game, I'm always instantly relieved when I hear them behind the microphone for the first time of the year. When I tuned in, Denny was already trying to stump Ryan with a trivia question (something about naming the two oldest spring training facilities), and he did a pretty good job of it.

But as quickly as the optimism that always reigns this time of year (no matter how ridiculous it might be) was settling into my psyche, I learned that Mark Redman (who started the game last Thursday) has a knee injury and he's already left camp to come back to Kansas City to have his left knee examined. They'll be looking for a possible cartilage tear and according to this article, he's already expected to miss at least four weeks.

The other new starter the Royals added this year, Scott Elarton, didn't look real sharp in his first outing. He gave up 8 H and 5 R in 3 IP. Let's hope that Affeldt can fare better this afternoon against the Padres in his first start of the spring. I'm planning to listen to the broadcast on XPRS on the MLB website. It doesn't look like the Royals radio network is carrying this one.

On the upside of the game yesterday, Ryan noted Mark Teahen's new batting stance. I haven't had a chance to see it yet, but it's obviously given him the ability to finally turn on a pitch. After slapping the ball to the left side most of last season in Tom Goodwin-like fashion, he did finally start to plug the gap in right-center on occasion near the end of the season. But yesterday he was 3-for-3 and had little problem turning on the ball.

The Royals pounded Rockies pitching, amassing 23 hits en route to a 13-8 victory. Of course, the Rockies had little problem with our pitching—ending up with 16 hits themselves. But at least we're 2-1 in Cactus League play so far and that looks a little better than the 0-6 start the White Sox are off to.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Royals & Rangers Tie

The Royals and Rangers tied 5-5 yesterday in the first official game for both teams this spring. The Royals got down early 5-0 (when the starters were still playing) and after scoring once in the sixth, they rallied for four runs in the eighth and ninth innings. After neither team scored in the tenth or eleventh, the managers agreed to call the game a tie.

Mark Redman started for the Royals. He got five of the seven hitters out that he faced, but he gave up a home run to Phil Nevin in the process. Jeremy Affeldt walked two guys in relief and gave up two hits and one earned run in an inning of work—not a great start for Jeremy. Joel Peralta, who came over from the Dodgers organization, pitched two perfect out of the pen.

Alex Gordon actually played like he deserved his huge contract—going 1-for-3 with 2 RBI. He also made a great backhanded defensive play in the tenth inning. And recently added utility man Benji Gill went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI and was instrumental in the rally to tie the game. I was most impressed though by Chip Ambres who was 1-for-1 with 3 BB. When was the last time a Royals player took three walks in a game? The Royals actually drew 8 BB for the game—so who knows, maybe Bell and Andre David are getting through to these guys early about the importance of getting on base any way possible.

Mark Grudzielanek, the Royals long-needed solid second baseman, made two fielding errors. Let's hope that he's just a little rusty.

The Royals get another crack at the Rangers at 2:05 pm this afternoon.

A Royal Pain

I came across a comical article recently on the Christianity Today website called "A Royal Pain" written by a Royals fan who grew up in Minnesota. The subtitle of the article says it all: "Following Kansas City's baseball team ain't easy…but it builds character and perseverance." Check it out if you get a chance.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Greinke's Issues are Emotional

The Royals have no intention of speaking about Greinke's absence with any more specificity than they already have. The most definitive explanation we're probably going to get from them can be found in this article in The Star this morning: "Sources confirmed previous statements by Baird and Bell that Greinke’s departure was not a disciplinary matter, a legal issue, due to a physical injury or reflected a lack of desire to remain in baseball. Sources also confirmed the issue did not involve a family member or any other person."

The Star did report that Greinke's issues are "emotional." If that's true, and if this isn't a disciplinary matter, or a legal issue, or just a general lack of desire, then let's give Greinke the time he needs. I'm guessing he'll return as quickly as he can and if he has anything to say, he'll say it then.

Bell said that he doesn't expect Greinke to be ready to start the season, but we have an ample amount of starters already and I'm not so sure that Greinke was a lock for the rotation anyway. Perhaps this will give us a better chance to see if Affeldt is ready to return to the rotation after spending the past couple of seasons in middle relief—a position he clearly isn't comfortable with.
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