Closer and resident lightning rod Chris Perez will be starting a throwing program on Sunday to help get him back on track for Opening Day after spraining his shoulder about a week ago. As of now he’s questionable for the start of the season against the New York Yankees but should he still not be ready, Vinnie Pestano would be the obvious man to get the call in his place until then. This in turn could give Matt Capps and Cody Allen the inside track in short relief and set-up roles, respectively. With so many options brought into camp and at the AAA roster, maintaining the bullpen as the strength of the pitching staff eases the decision-making process for Terry Francona regarding who will be the #5 starter for the first month of the season or so.
Speaking of which, journeyman Scott Kazmir continues to be the most consistent and impressive of the candidates vying to fill out the rotation so far. A hard-throwing left-hander anywhere on a staff is a bit of a commodity and to have one as a seasoned veteran whose played on similarly styled rosters in Tampa Bay could be valuable experience against some of the tougher left-handed hitters in the AL. The pulse of the fans is that Carlos Carrasco or Daisuke Matsuzaka would be the best options, but neither has seemingly outperformed the other so far and Dice-K hasn’t regained the velocity and movement on his pitches he once had. The larger picture is that whomever makes the final cut would likely be kept on a short leash should they be ineffective.
Jason Giambi may still have a better than slim chance of making the 25-man roster in spite of having an abysmal Spring Training, the likes of which would have removed all doubt for most other players trying make it as a non-roster invitee and certainly as a 1B/DH. As previously stated, his veteran presence and leadership goes a long way with Francona dating back to their days as members of baseball’s greatest rivalry. While there may be an element of truth to that, his virtual absence at the plate could put a wrench into those plans as Ryan Raburn and Mike Aviles continue to prove that they will be essential go-to position players off the bench for Francona. Lonnie Chisenhall’s performance has reaffirmed the expectation that he’s not in danger of losing his starting spot to either of the aforementioned, therefore reducing the number of bench spots available by proxy. With both Chis and LF Michael Brantley susceptible to being platooned during the season if their troubles against LHP continue, there can’t be any room on the roster for dead weight.
Jeremy Hermida, previously referenced as a potential challenger for Drew Stubbs in RF, has been optioned to the team’s minor league camp. Given the lack of playing time and opportunities for him since the beginning of ST, this roster move isn’t unexpected and he’ll likely provide OF depth in Columbus if he doesn’t ask for a release to try and catch on elsewhere.