It’s two weeks and counting for Opening Day in MLB, and spring training continues to weed out the players who haven’t been able to muster the talent needed to impress coaches.  With threats of the coronavirus wreaking havoc on the league – autograph sessions have been cut, games are being played in front of smaller crowds – and a level of uncertainty surrounding what will happen on March 26, teams across the league are business as usual, ready to give their fans a thrill. Let’s start with the return of Michael Kopech for the White Sox.

White Sox Kopech Return

The Chicago White Sox will do just that when they put Michael Kopech on the mound tomorrow.  He hasn’t been seen pitching a game since September 2018, but is ready for his big return.  His lengthy absence was attributed to a season-ending injury and the subsequent recovery, which took longer than expected, but he’s back in spring training and is ready to make a difference.

The entire bench of the Texas Rangers, as well as fans watching, cringed when Willie Calhoun suddenly went down during a game against the LA Dodgers yesterday.  It was only the first inning when the outfielder was at bat, intent on slamming a Julio Urias pitch; however, the fastball went wild and caught Calhoun in the jaw and he was carted off the field.  He’ll be out for a while, too, as he was diagnosed with a fractured jaw.

Astros, Red Sox & Yankees

The Houston Astros suddenly found themselves playing without ace Justin Verlander when he decided to hang up his glove for the day during a game against the New York Mets.  He was halfway through his four-inning appearance when he determined that something was off and that it was time to take a break.  The only explanation given was that he was dealing with “soreness,” and it isn’t clear how quickly he might recover.

Ryan Weber is going to make his third start for the Boston Red Sox today as the team takes on the Atlanta Braves, and it’s the third time the pitcher will have a chance to show coaches what he can do.  He has already impressed this spring training, logging just one unearned run in five innings and seven strikeouts.  If he can keep that up, he should definitely have a spot in the roster.

The New York Yankees are scrambling to cover several injuries already seen this year and have reported making a number of moves in order to make necessary adjustments.  Brooks Kriske is off to Triple-A ball, while Albert Abreau and Estevean Florial are going down to Double-A.  Domingo Acevedo and Alexander Vizcaíno, both right-handed pitchers, were sent to minor league camp in order to work on their game.  It might not happen this season, but both of the new campers will most likely see major league debuts within two years.

J.D. Davis was forced to ride the pine when he injured his shoulder on February 25.  However, the Mets left fielder is recovering quickly, and was back in on the action when the Mets beat the Houston Astros this weekend, 3-1.  He admits that his timing is still a little off, but believes he’s ready for action.  He will be seen on the field with Erasmo Ramirez, who has been able to win over coaches.  He led a couple of scoreless innings against the Astros and, for being a non-roster invitee, has proven his skills enough to be part of the roster.

How About The Padres?

The San Diego Padres are starting to make their adjustments, and a dozen players have now learned they won’t be suiting up this season.  Edward Olivares and Jorge Oña were optioned to minor league camp, while Gabriel Arias, Owen Miller, Esteban Quiroz, Hudson Potts, Michael Getty, Luis Campusano, Pedro Avila, Lake Bachar, Miguel Diaz and Dauris Valdez, all of whom were not part of the 40-man roster, were all sent to the camp without having to be optioned.  More cuts are coming, especially since there are still 20 players vying for a pitching job.