Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Spring Training News & Notes - Tigers, Giants, Angels, and Dodgers

Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers DH/ outfielder Gary Sheffield says his surgically repaired right shoulder feels great, and he has been swinging pain free for a while now. Sheffield was on his way to having a great season last year, before a minor labral tear cost him most of his power. Look for Sheffield to bounce back and have another fine fantasy season. I would be bit weary of the 39 year old Sheffield, because he has been injury prone the last few seasons and there is no reason to think he will make it through the 2008 season, completely healthy either.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants have given 1B candidate Dan Ortmeier a full time tutor to help him in his transition to first, a good indication that they are committed to giving him serious playing time there to start the season. Former Giants 1B J.T. Snow has been assisting Ortmeier learn the nuances and intricacies of playing first, as well as things to look for and expect.

We listed Ortmeier as a potential sleeper in our Giants season preview, but he could put up Lyle Overbay type numbers a whole lot later than Overbay will go in your league's draft. Read on and you'll see why you should take Ortmeier ahead of Casey Kotchman as well.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Look out Casey Kotchman lovers, the Angels plan on giving Juan Rivera an extended look over at first base. It looks like the Angels might be hoping to platoon Rivera and Kotchman over at first base. Kotchman hit a limited number of homeruns last season for a 1B (11HR), and hit none against lefties. This could be the Angels way of lighting a fire under Kotchman, or it could mean there is a platoon in the works. In Rivera's last full season (2006) he hit 23 HR with 85 RBI, more important in this case, he had a .970 OPS against left handed pitching.

This is the exact opposite of what the Giants are doing for Ortmeier. Move Kotchman off of your potential sleepers for first base. The season hasn't even started yet, and the Angels are showing they do not have faith in the young hitter. This could also be a signal that there still might be something to those Paul Konerko rumors we heard earlier this winter.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodger's shortstop Rafael Furcal says that he is "feeling 100 percent" entering Spring Training and is healthier than he was all last season. Many people forget that Furcal started last season on the DL, with a sprained ankle he suffered late in Spring Training.

Furcal is terrific sleeper SS, who will go later in the draft than he should. He was a top 3-4 SS before the ankle injury zapped him of his ability to put solid swings on the ball, and hurt his speed on the base paths. He put up numbers far below what we are used to seeing from him, so expect him to come back and reestablish himself as not only one of the best SS in the game, but one of the best players.

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