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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

February 28, 2009 at 9:27 AM

Notes from around the major leagues

  • Since winning the Cy Young Award for the Angels in 2005, Bartolo Colon has won exactly 11 games over the past three seasons because of arm problems.The White Sox are cautiously optimistic that Colon, who had offseason surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow, will be in their rotation. The White Sox also believe that Jose Contreras, expected to be out until at least July after rupturing his Achilles tendon last July, is way ahead of schedule. Ozzie Guillen is hoping that Colon and Contreras will be ready to be his No. 4 and 5 starters.

  • Kelvim Escobar didn’t pitch at all for the Angels last year after going 18-7 in 2007. His shoulder is recovering well from shoulder surgery, but he strained his left calf early in camp, slowing down his throwing regimen. A realistic expectation for Escobar is to spend April on a rehab assignment and join the Angels’ rotation sometime in May.

  • The Florida Marlins had 117 errors last year, third-worst in the majors, after leading the majors with 137 error in 2007. They hope to improve their deffense this year, having traded poor defenders Mike Jacobs and Josh Willlingham,, and moving Jeremy Hermida from right to left. Ominous start: The Marlins made six errors in their first two exhibition games.

  • No team has had a rockier start to spring than the Washington Nationals — and that’s coming off a season in which they lost 102 games, worst in the majors. They found out that top Dominican prospect Esmalyn Gonzalez faked his identity,and is four years older than he told the team while signing a franchise-record $1.4 million signing bonus in 2006. Their GM, Jim Bowden, is being investigated by the feds in a bonus-skimming scandal, and Bowden’s special assistant, Jose Rijo, was fired because of his links to the Gonzalez case. Bowden could be fired any day.

    On top of all that, last year’s Opening Day starter, Odalis Perez, was released this past week when he failed to report by the mandatory date. Perez didn’t like the minor-league contract he had agreed to, which called for him to make $850,000 if he made the team.

  • Twins’ pitcher Boof Bonser and his agent, Larry Reynolds (Harold‘s brother) are unhappy with Twins management over their handling of his season-ending surgery Wednesday to repair a partically torn rotator cuff and partially torn labrum.

    “To say that we’re disappointed is an understatement,” Reynolds told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

    According to the Star-Tribune, Bonser had surgery after two MRI exams and X-rays since the end of last season failed to diagnose the problem and a cortisone shot received just before spring training began failed to help Bonser. One MRI came during an exit physical after last season ended. The Twins thought he had tendinitis and prescribed rest.

    “You are looking at a situation where he is out for a year when it could have been taken care of earlier,” Reynolds said. “It should have been taken care of before the first day of camp.”

  • After the Twins’ first spring game, manager Ron Gardenhire had a $100 bill atop the laptop in his office. It came from Justin Morneau, their start first baseman, who left Gardenhire a note after skipping a post-game running session:

    “Gardy, I forgot to run. I fine myself.”

  • The Chicago Tribune had this Lou Piniella note. Seems that Lou mentioned he had taken college classes in Tampa during his playing days before abruptly ending his educational career.

    “I flunked square-dancing, and then I said, ‘To heck with it,’ ” he told the Tribune.

    Square-dancing?

    “I didn’t show up for the final,” he said. “I studied too hard for the biology exam. I did OK in the exam, but I didn’t get to the square-dancing part afterward. … They shouldn’t have [flunked me]. They should have given me a D. So you’re not going to see me doing the hoedowns at the ballpark.”

  • The Pirates opened camp by exercising the 2010 contract option on manager John Russell — who finished 28 games under .500 in his first major-league season. The Pirates point out that Russell had the Pirates at 50-57 before they traded Jason Bay and Xavier Nady. With virtually no offense, they went 17-37 the rest of the way.

  • Phillies ace Cole Hamels said on WFAN radio over the winter that the Mets choked their way out of the playoffs the past two years. Guess what? Mets outfielder Ryan Church agreed.

    “We did choke,” Church told reporters. “You’ve got to be a man about it. We struggled and didn’t get it done, and that’s two years in a row.”

  • Speaking of the Phillies, they’re paying a price for their World Series title. While most teams not named the Yankees are cutting payroll, Philadelphia’s will go up $26.7 million, from $104,567,500 to $130,844,098, according to an analysis by the Philadelphia Daily News.

    The Phillies didn’t retain Pat Burrell, their highest-paid player in 2008 at $14 million (he signed as a free agent with Tampa Bay, the team Philadelphia beat in the World Series). But they kept every other significant player from the World Series championship game, and added Raul Ibanez with a three-year, $31.5-million contract. Ibanez’s back-loaded contract pays him $6.5 million in 2009. Ten Phillies players were arbitration-eligible this year.

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