Injuries and early samples haven’t changed much since my last roster prediction, but I think it’s worth reflecting on where we are thus far in the spring:
Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando, Robbie Ross
Martin Perez sure looked like a fifth starter…until he took an unfortunate liner to the forearm. He’s young, though, he’ll bounce back. The struggle for him will be finding his way back into the team when he does, especially given that Colby Lewis is expected to return not that long after Perez. Which means that Perez either goes to AAA to get starts or slides into the bullpen. I rank Robbie Ross above veterans Randy Wells and Derek Lowe to grab the last spot in the rotation.
Joe Nathan (Closer), Jason Frasor, Derek Lowe, Michael Kirkman, Josh Lindblom, Nick Tepesch, Joe Ortiz
The bullpen may still be the hardest part of the team to predict, and there have been several changes. Wells and Tanner Scheppers still have good chances of making the team, but with the addition of Lowe I’m predicting he takes the long relief role rather than Wells or perhaps Kyle McClellan. Lindblom stays with a pretty good spring so far, and on the back of strong springs so far I’ll project Tepesch and Ortiz sliding into a bullpen that’s an interesting mix of the very old and very young.
A.J. Pierzynski, Geovanny Soto
Barring injury, nothing’s changing this.
Mitch Moreland (1B), Ian Kinsler (2B), Elvis Andrus (SS), Adrian Beltre (3B)
Nelson Cruz (RF), Leonys Martin (CF), David Murphy (LF)
Although Craig Gentry’s no slouch, Martin’s been strong enough so far to merit a majority of the playing time. He slides in as the starter in center. We’ve heard nothing more about Cruz getting suspended yet, so for the time being we’ll assume he won’t be.
Craig Gentry (OF), Mike Olt (3B/1B/OF), Lance Berkman (DH/1B/RF), Leury Garcia (SS/2B)
Aside from Gentry sliding into a wider bench position (really not much of a change), this stays the same. Berkman, of course, will be the day-to-day DH. Garcia is still the wild card here, but it remains more likely that he’s the one who sits the bench and Jurickson Profar gets the everyday reps at AAA than the other way around. Well, so long as Garcia doesn’t tank and Profar doesn’t positively force his way onto the roster.