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Mariners Moose Tracks, 2/14/20: Jim Crane, Astros apologies, and early injuries

Links of love.

Houston Astros Media Availability Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Good morning! It’s John here with your Friday links, and it’s supposed to be -5 tonight, so I’m going to type these while my fingers still function.

In Mariners news...

  • The first few tidbits from spring training were overshadowed by an update on Mitch Haniger’s injury. As we covered here, per Jeff Passan, Haniger underwent surgery addressing the herniated disc in his back that ailed him last year, in addition to the surgery a couple weeks ago for a sports hernia. This morning, we got full clarity on the nature of the second surgery.
  • While the news is obviously a significant setback, Jerry Dipoto does not expect Haniger to miss the entire season.
  • Taijuan Walker spoke with Greg Johns of about how he’s learned, grown, and matured since his first stint in Seattle. Walker was frank in his self-assessment of his time with the Mariners: “I don’t think I did a very good job here, doing what I need to do to be the best pitcher I could be. I definitely slacked off and didn’t really put the work in.” Here’s hoping for health and excellence in round two!
  • LL alum Brendan Gawlowski wrote up the return of Tai for FanGraphs.
  • Everything sounds best before it’s put on the field, but early video and reports from Greg Johns also confirm Yusei Kikuchi has simplified his motion, with guidance from the Mariners, in hopes of getting his mechanics consistent and returning to the pitcher he looked like in his final few years in NPB.
  • Former Mariners outfielder Domingo Santana officially signed with Cleveland, with Ken Rosenthal confirming the financials.
  • LHP Tommy Milone has signed a minor league deal with the Orioles, re-joining Wade LeBlanc.
  • This... will take some getting used to.

Around the league...

  • It seems the apology from Astros majority owner Jim Crane, who is also a shipping logistics and energy magnate, did not stand up to muster for many. Jeff Passan of ESPN argues Crane’s fumbling efforts only have muddled things further.
  • Scott Miller of Bleacher Report noted Crane’s statements that the cheating was not a besmirchment of the character of the players, and simply poor guidance from their leaders rings off-key for several reasons. It also includes this notable tidbit, throwing question on yet another aspect of Houston’s internal culture, not to mention their long-vaunted player development.
  • Seth Lugo of the Mets feels poor 2017 performance against the Astros has colored his reputation and led to his move to the bullpen.
  • Whit Merrifield of the Royals has “no respect for [the Astros] anymore”.
  • Astros players also weighed in at length, offering contrition and taking responsibility at varying degrees. Justin Verlander, who has offered harsh criticism of players suspended for Performance Enhancing Drugs, has been silent this winter, but offered a few quotes yesterday.
  • As apologies go, Carlos Correa was fairly thorough, but also pushed back firmly on the recent reports that Carlos Beltran was such an imposing figure in the clubhouse that he would’ve intimidated coaches and other players from confronting him. Correa argued it was absolutely possible for he or his teammates or coaches to have offered firm resistance, and to their shame nobody did.
  • Jay Jaffe of FanGraphs notes that the next phase of the Astros cheating scandal will play out over the next several weeks, months, and even years, as opposing players express their disgust and anger with rarely seen candor in the modern media landscape.
  • Greg Joyce of the New York Post spoke with new Phillies RHP Zack Wheeler, who was unsurprised by the lack of response when he attempted to explore a new contract with the Mets.
  • The Boston Globe reports OF Alex Verdugo may not be ready for opening day, still feeling the impact of a lingering back injury that hampered him late in 2019.
  • Cleveland starter Mike Clevinger has reportedly partially torn his meniscus and is set to undergo surgery today. Zack Meisel of The Athletic says a timetable for return will come after the operation, but the injury commonly requires at least a month or two of recovery, after which Clevinger will need to get to full throwing shape.
  • Angels’ top pitching prospect RHP Jose Soriano will miss the 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last week, per Jonathan Mayo.
  • He joins another Angels pitcher in the trainer’s room, as RHP reliever Justin Anderson will miss at least 4-6 weeks with a grade 2 oblique strain.
  • Mike Leake’s non-throwing hand fracture may date back decades, supposedly.
  • A potential 1st-2nd round pick, SS Freddy Zamora of the University of Miami will miss the 2020 season with a knee injury.
  • Brad Peacock has had a setback in his pitching program thanks to continued irritation in nerves in his neck. The Astros’ righty is a contender for a rotation role
  • Astros top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley has selected his preferred Best Shape of His Life and it is Bigger.

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