Fans of the American Association should not be too disappointed over the final days of spring training when injuries and last-minute roster decisions trimmed the Opening Day contingent of the league’s former stars to the established trio of Max Scherzer, Luke Hochevar, and David Peralta because hints are already on the horizon that the alumni list could be doubled within a short time.
First in line could be strikeout artist James Hoyt, who seemed poised to be on Houston’s 25-man roster until he was edged out, while fellow right-handers Aaron Crow and Bo Schultz are being mentioned as likely add-ons as soon as they complete rehab work.
“I don’t think there was a bad decision to make,” Astros manager A. J. Hinch told SBNation.com, in selecting Michael Feliz over veteran Wandy Rodriguez or the 29-year-old Hoyt, who struck out 21 hitters in 11.1 innings during 10 spring appearances. “I would have been completely comfortable with Hoyt, or actually, a couple of guys left back in (spring training at) Kissimmee.”
Hoyt, who pitched at Wichita four years ago and does not have any regular-season major league time, certainly did not burn any bridges when he was told he would start the season at Triple-A Fresno. “It’s just part of the business,” the 6-foot-5 hurler told SBNation. “I’ll be ready when they need me. (I will) go down to Fresno and just try and stay sharp. Do my best to (improve) every day. Yes, of course, it’s disappointing. I’ve been working hard all spring. It’s not the answer I wanted, but we move on.”
Crow, whose pro career started when Fort Worth was in the American Association, is working his way back from right (throwing) elbow surgery in extended spring training with his new team, the Chicago Cubs.
“I wanted to be in a situation where I’d be able to help a team with a chance to win midway through the season,” Crow told The Chicago Tribune. “And this is one of those places. If you’re going to play for Joe (Maddon) and you’re a reliever, you’re going to pitch a lot. So that’s one thing that attracted me here. It was the best fit with the offer they made and the whole setup they have. It was the best place for me.” Another 29-year-old, he has considerable major league experience, posting a 3.43 ERA in 254 relief appearances for Kansas City from 2011-14.
The first American Association hurler to get back to active duty could be Toronto’s Bo Schultz (Grand Prairie), on the 15-day disabled list as he finishes the comeback from offseason hip surgery. Schultz, 30, got his first extensive major league work last season when he appeared in 31 games with a 3.56 ERA along with 31 strikeouts and 14 walks in 43 innings.
Red Sox Move Wort Up to Double-A
Sioux City relief star Rob Wort did not enjoy the same success as in his eight-pitch (all strikes) debut when the Boston Red Sox brought him over from their minor league camp for a second major league spring training appearance because the right-hander became an Andrew McCutchen home run victim. This left him with a record of having allowed two hits while walking one and striking out three in his 2.1 innings with the parent Red Sox, but it seems significant in that they gave their first-year farmhand two looks at all. The Bosox also have moved the strikeout artist up to the Class AA Eastern League to start the regular minor league season.
Two other 2015 American Association grads got to experience the thrill of being in a major league dugout for at least one day late in spring training. Centerfielder Dexter Kjerstad (Amarillo) was with Miami, and right-hander Willy Paredes (Laredo) with Detroit.