A hip injury cost Devin Mesoraco the majority of his 2015 season. He's hoping it won't cost him at all this year.
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Mesoraco was limited to just 23 games with a hip impingement that eventually necessitated surgery in June, but he said recently that he's pain-free with spring on the horizon.
“I’ve done everything, I’ve been hitting for a couple of months. Catching-wise, I’ve been blocking, throwing, receiving, doing just about everything with no pain,” Mesoraco told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Everything’s been as planned.”
Mesoraco has had a regular offseason, beginning to hit in November and starting catching drills this month. The pain he felt last season when trying to perform catching drills is not an issue, he said.
“This is nothing like that,” Mesoraco said. “I feel perfectly fine.”
If healthy, the 27-year-old might now be able to follow up on a breakout 2014 season. Mesoraco batted .273/.359/.534 with 25 homers and 80 RBI during his All-Star year, and hopes were high heading into 2015 before it was derailed by the hip issue.
Even in his 23 games, Mesoraco was compromised at the plate. He hit just .178/.275/.244 without a homer last year before his season ended in June.
The Reds tried Mesoraco at a corner outfield spot while he was rehabbing last summer to go easy on the hip, but there has been no indication that the team is prepared to move him off his natural position permanently. With his continued improvement, there's no reason to think he will be any time soon.
Fowler Drawing Windy City Interest
With spring approaching, Dexter Fowler is still wondering what city -- or, perhaps, which side of a city -- he'll be calling home in 2016.
Fowler is one of the few prominent free agents remaining on the open market, and Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago said both the White Sox and Fowler's former team, the Cubs, are both interested in his services. Fowler's market has been remarkably quiet this winter after he rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Cubs in November.
With the loss of a draft pick for signing Fowler hanging over his head, a source told Lavine that the 29-year-old is expected to return to his former team when it's all said and done.
“The Cubs are still the most likely landing spot for Fowler,” one baseball executive whose club has also followed the Fowler free-agent process said. “He should have taken the Cubs’ qualifying offer and moved into the free agent class of 2017.”
It's hard to fault Fowler, though, after he enjoyed a career year in the Cubs' outfield in 2015. The center fielder batted .250/.346/.411 with a career-high 17 homers and 102 runs scored.
The White Sox could actually use Fowler more than their cross-town rivals, as he could push Avisail Garcia to a bench role. If he re-signs with the Cubs, they may use their outfield depth -- the team already has Jorge Soler, Kyle Schwarber and big-ticket free agent signee Jason Heyward on its payroll -- to acquire another starting pitcher.
Pujols (Foot) Cleared To Hit
Albert Pujols isn't ahead of schedule, but he's on schedule, and that's enough for the Angels.
The first baseman has been cleared to start hitting baseballs off a tee after November surgery to repair the plantar plate in his right foot, a team official told Jon Morosi. Even though he remains on course for a late March return to full baseball activities -- a trajectory that likely means he'll start the year on the disabled list -- the team is said to be pleased with his progress.
The ailment didn't appear to affect Pujols' power any, as he belted 40 home runs with 95 RBI, but his .244 average and .307 on-base percentage were both the lowest marks of his prestigious career. Pujols was also forced to start 62 games as the team's designated hitter, the first time since 2003 that he started fewer than 100 games at first base over the course of a full season.
Quick Hits: The Rays are said to have interest in shortstop Ian Desmond, who remains on the free agent market. It's looking increasingly more likely that Desmond will have to accept a one-year deal to revive his value before seeking a longer-term contract next winter ... A handful of players and teams avoided arbitration with one-year deals, including the Rockies and Charlie Blackmon ($3.5 million), the Rangers and Shawn Tolleson ($3.275 million), and the Twins and Trevor Plouffe ($7.25 million) ... Lazaro Armenteros, a 16-year-old Cuban defect, hopes to make a decision on where to sign by the time he's first eligible to sign on February 10, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. "Lazarito," as he's called, has generated plenty of interest and should be paid handsomely by some team in the near future ... Francisco Cervelli is reportedly seeking at least three years and $39 million for any extension with the Pirates. Cervelli batted .295/.370/.401 as the Bucs' primary backstop in 2015 ... Bronson Arroyo signed a minor league contract with the Nationals. The deal includes an invitation to spring training for the right-hander, who missed all of 2015 after Tommy John surgery ... The Indians and Josh Tomlin agreed to a two-year, $5.5 million extension with a club option for 2018. Tomlin acquitted himself well in 2015, posting a 3.02 ERA in 10 starts last year ... The Giants have remained in touch with Tim Lincecum (hip). Lincecum is planning to hold a showcase for clubs next month ... The Marlins are "resigned to losing" Jose Fernandez at some point, according to the Miami Herald. Fortunately for the Marlins, their fans have been resigned to losing for years.