The Oakland Athletics would like to add an inexpensive utility infielder as they await the return of Adam Rosales, who is recovering from offseason surgery on his right foot and likely will be out until May.
Chances are, though, the A’s will opt for an internal solution; they’ve been playing third baseman Andy LaRoche at short. The Tigers’ Ramon Santiago would make sense, but even he would be too pricey for the A’s at $1.25 million.
• Yankees rookie catcher Jesus Montero is likely to open the season as the backup to Russell Martin. His bat might tempt the Yankees into expanding his playing time, but a scout says that the Yankees will need to bring Montero along slowly, citing the difficulty all rookie catchers face adapting to the speed of the game in the majors.
Lefty CC Sabathia is perhaps the only one of the Yankees’ top three starters who is low-maintenance for a catcher. Righty Phil Hughes is still developing as a pitcher, and A.J. Burnett also requires veteran guidance.
• Mariners third baseman Chone Figgins needed a few days to think about it, but he finally came up with a comparison for second-base prospect Dustin Ackley.
“A more athletic Todd Walker,” Figgins said, referring to the former major league second baseman.
Mariners fans might prefer to hear, “Chase Utley,” but Walker finished his career with a .783 OPS. His defense was below average, but his peers greatly respected his offensive talent — and Figgins was talking about Ackley as a hitter.
Ackley, the second overall pick in the 2009 draft, is entering his second full season at second base and likely to start the season at Triple-A.
• For all the talk about how the Phillies could replace Utley, their injured second baseman, the club's utility-infield candidates — Wilson Valdez, Peter Orr, Josh Barfield — are playing well this spring.
None, obviously, is Utley, but sources continue to say that the Phillies cannot take on a big salary. To acquire the Rangers' Michael Young — if Utley were out for a prolonged stretch — the Phils would need Texas to take right-hander Joe Blanton and include cash in the deal. The Rangers are reluctant to make that type of trade.
• The Blue Jays are building impressive pitching depth.
Manager John Farrell told reporters that left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes, who is out of minor-league options, could make the team as a reliever. Righties Jesse Litsch and Kyle Drabek are the favorites for the final two rotation spots, possibly leaving lefty Marc Rzepczynski to start the season at Triple-A.
Right-hander Zach Stewart also will open at Triple-A, and the Jays are excited by the progress of righty Henderson Alvarez, who has touched 97 mph and changed the grip on his slider, creating more tilt. Alvarez likely will open at Double-A.
— Ken Rosenthal