Twins third baseman José Miranda has withdrawn from the World Baseball Classic due to shoulder soreness, reports Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He was set to play for Puerto Rico in the upcoming tournament but will instead stick in camp with the Twins.
Manager Rocco Baldelli spoke with members of the media about the issue today, with Do-Hyoung Park of MLB.com relaying some pertinent quotes (Twitter links). It seems the main issue is throwing, as Miranda is still able to hit and will be serving as the designated hitter in some upcoming games. “We’re still quite hopeful that he’s going to be ready to go Opening Day, but he’s not throwing right now,” Baldelli said. “We don’t have larger concerns or long-term concerns. We think he’s going to be OK, but he needs some time.”
It doesn’t seem like Miranda is in danger of an extended absence since he can still serve as the DH, but if he can’t take the field, the club will have to think about who will play third base until Miranda is ready to go. This offseason, the Twins traded away Gio Urshela and Luis Arraez, clearing out their corner infield spots for players like Miranda and Alex Kirilloff. Without Miranda, the hot corner could potentially be manned by Kyle Farmer or Donovan Solano.
Some other notes from around the American League…
- Cavan Biggio has primarily been an infielder for the Blue Jays but could spend significant time in the outfield this season. Manager John Schneider tells Keegan Matheson of MLB.com he expects Biggio to play “a ton” of outfield this year, perhaps as much as a 50-50 split with his infield work. Biggio has 383 innings of outfield work on his résumé thus far, significantly less than the over 2,000 innings he’s split between second base, third base and first base. Whit Merrifield, acquired at the trade deadline this year, seemed to take over as the club’s primary option at second base after coming aboard. With Matt Chapman and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at the corners and players like Santiago Espinal and Addison Barger competing for bench jobs, it’s possible Biggio’s best path to playing time is on the grass/turf. The regular outfield in Toronto should consist of George Springer, Daulton Varsho and Kevin Kiermaier, but Biggio could perhaps serve as the fourth outfielder if Merrifield, who also plays the outfield, is sticking at the keystone. Biggio hit .240/.368/.430 in his first two seasons for a 118 wRC+ but has dealt with back injuries in the past two, leading to a diminished line of .213/.320/.353, wRC+ of 90.
- Astros outfielder Justin Dirden is impressing in camp and could potentially nab a roster spot at the end of spring. “Who knows? We’ll see who’s injured, who’s not, who’s playing well and what we need. Everyone is getting about the same shot to impress us,” manager Dusty Baker tells Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. “I’m impressed with him. We’re impressed with him. That’s why he’s here. He’s getting a lot of playing time, a lot of looks, and he’s playing well. He’s playing very well.” It’s been quite a journey for Dirden, 25, who was not selected in the shortened 2020 draft and signed with the Astros afterwards as an undrafted free agent. He’s been tearing the cover off the ball since that time, including a .274/.397/.537 line in 2021 between Class-A and High-A. Last year, he got bumped to Double-A and hit 20 home runs in 92 games, slashing .324/.411/.616 for a wRC+ of 157. He got a late-season promotion to Triple-A and struggled but is now turning heads in Grapefruit League games. His ability to play center field gives him a chance to compete with Jake Meyers for a backup outfielder job behind Chas McCormick, Michael Brantley, Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez. Those four are expected to take up the three outfield jobs and designated hitter slot, but an injury could always open up a path for both Meyers and Dirden to make the team. Brantley is making his way back from last year’s shoulder surgery while Alvarez is dealing with continued hand soreness.