Travis Shaw surprised everyone after his promotion to the majors last year, and he's not done with the upsets just yet.
The 25-year-old entered camp hoping to win a roster spot with the Red Sox, but he did one better Thursday when manager John Farrell named him the starter at third base over veteran Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval, who signed a five-year, $95 million contract prior to last season, will begin the year on the bench.
"I've had a chance to meet with both guys this morning, as I've met with them numerous times throughout the course of Spring Training," said Farrell. "For right now, to start the season, we feel this is the best for our team to go with this alignment."
Shaw earned it with a good camp after making a name for himself last season. In a 65-game showing, Shaw batted .270/.327/.487 with 13 home runs, and he followed that by posting a .339/.381/.508 line with two home runs in the Grapefruit League.
Sandoval, meanwhile, has batted .233/.267/.465 this spring and said he's OK with the move.
"They made the decision," said Sandoval. "It was the right decision to help the team win. I'm going to be ready during the season to do my job out there."
The tone from all parties suggests the arrangement is likely to be a temporary one, despite Shaw's continued success in the majors. Shaw was, after all, a career .261/.359/.445 hitter in the minors with just 69 home runs over 2,211 plate appearances. It's a situation worth watching, but neither player should be counted on for meaningful contributions outside of fairly deep mixed leagues.
Spring training is in full swing, so be sure to keep refreshing Rotoworld's constantly-updating player news page for all the latest. And while you're at it, follow @Rotoworld_BB and @nate_grimm if you are on Twitter.
Kim, Orioles At Impasse
Hyun-soo Kim's courtship and signing flew under the radar, relatively, but the situation came to the forefront Thursday.
Kim, the Korean outfielder who signed a two-year, $7 million contract with the Orioles in December, is reportedly at odds with his club after the team asked him to accept an assignment to Triple-A Norfolk. Kim's deal is guaranteed and stipulates that he must consent to being sent down.
And as of Thursday, he still hadn't. The O's, according to MASN's Roch Kubatko, have met three times with the 28-year-old with hopes of convincing him to accept the assignment, but his Seoul-based representatives at Leeco Sports Agency issued a statement saying their client wants to be a major leaguer.
"Kim would like to see his contract honored and executed faithfully," the agency said. "He also hopes to receive fair opportunities to continue his career as a major leaguer with Baltimore."
He certainly hasn't made it easy on them. In his first spring training, Kim is batting .182 (8-for-44) without an extra-base hit. Contrast that with Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard, the outfielder expected to take Kim's roster spot who is batting .387/.465/.565 with a home run and five stolen bases in Grapefruit League play.
With Kim resisting a move, the team's options appear to be keeping him on the 25-man roster or cutting him loose and eating their $7 million investment. Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said the team doesn't want to cut ties with the outfielder.
"The Orioles are happy Kim is on board, but we feel the player needs more at-bats to prepare for the season, which unfortunately we don't have now in Baltimore and it's the reason the club requested that the player consider an optional assignment," Duquette said. "We recognize player rights and are glad to have him in the organization. We all look forward to his contributions to the club after he's had more time to adjust to his new surroundings.
"All the club is asking him to do is take more time. We're glad to have him in the organization. The organization is fine with him."
Rosters need to be set by noon Sunday. We'll see whether Kim is on it.
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Gonzalez On The Move
Miguel Gonzalez got dumped Wednesday, but it may end up being oen of the best things that could have happened to him.
The Orioles parted ways with the 31-year-old on Wednesday, and multiple teams are already lining up to try to secure his services. According to MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo, the White Sox are "aggressively pursuing" Gonzalez while the Marlins, Blue Jays and Athletics are also in the hunt.
The Orioles, a team that isn't flush with pitching depth itself, released Gonzalez after he posted a 9.78 ERA this spring. The right-hander owned a disappointing 4.91 ERA in 26 starts last season but had ERAs of 3.25, 3.78 and 3.23, respectively, in his first three years in the majors.
Gonzalez was given his unconditional release, and on Friday, 48 hours after his release, Gonzalez will be a free agent if he passes through waivers unclaimed. Any team that claimed him would be on the hook for his $5.1 million salary this season.
A move out of Camden Yards and the American League East may end up being a blessing in disguise for Gonzalez. The White Sox, for example, play in a similarly hitter-friendly park but don't share a division with such potent offenses as the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Yankees boast. Likewise, the Marlins are expected to be part of a division with two of the worst teams in baseball in the Braves and Phillies, and the A's play in a spacious home ballpark.
At least one FSWA Hall of Famer thinks Gonzalez is better off on the unemployment line than he was two days ago. Where he ends up, and how much better off he might be, we'll know soon.
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Quick Hits: Andrew Miller, who suffered a chip fracture in his right (non-throwing) wrist Wednesday, told Jon Heyman of MLB Network that he wants to "tough it out" in lieu of a disabled list stint. If the Yankees abide, Miller is expected to serve as the team's closer until Aroldis Chapman returns from suspension in early May ... Ryan Braun (back) returned to the Brewers' lineup Thursday, finishing 2-for-4 with his first home run of spring. Back tightness has held him out of most of Cactus League action, but Braun is a veteran and should be ready for Opening Day regardless ... A.J. Pollock (elbow) is expected to be in the lineup Friday for the Diamondbacks' game against the Royals. Given that expectation, Pollock should also be a go for Monday's season opener against the Rockies ... Edwin Encarnacion (oblique) has declared himself ready for Opening Day. Encarnacion hasn't played in Grapefruit League games all spring but took six at-bats in a minor league game Thursday and said he's "100 percent" ... Marco Estrada (back) will make his season debut on April 10 against the Red Sox. A sore back has put Estrada behind in his readiness for Opening Day, but assuming all goes well, he'll only miss one turn in the rotation ... Matt Wieters (elbow) will be behind the plate on Opening Day, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. There was some thought that Wieters would be used at designated hitter after some elbow issues plagued him during spring, so a catching assignment is a good sign for his health going forward ... Yasmani Grandal (forearm) will catch five innings on Saturday against the Angels. He won't draw an Opening Day start with Clayton Kershaw on the mound, but Grandal should be in the Dodgers' lineup early and often barring a setback ... While Astros manager A.J. Hinch has given nothing away, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart believes Ken Giles will be the Astros' closer to start the year. It's unknown whether Hinch will provide any further clarity ahead of Opening Day ... Lance McCullers (shoulder) threw a round of live batting practice Thursday, after which Hinch said "all reports were good." McCullers will throw another session Sunday and is trending toward being ready to return to the club before the calendar flips to May ... Cameron Maybin (wrist) took batting practice Thursday, the first time he'd done so since suffering a non-displaced hairline fracture of the wrist early in camp. Maybin could be activated in mid-April in a best-case scenario ... Masahiro Tanaka will draw the Opening Day start for the Yankees ... Bryan Mitchell, who would have taken on a bigger role if Miller were to miss time, has a fracture in his left big toe and could require surgery. A procedure could keep him sidelined for three months ... The hits keep coming for Ruben Tejada, who will start the year on the disabled list due to a left quad strain suffered Thursday. He was poised to enter the year as the Cardinals' Opening Day shortstop before the injury.