MLB Notes: Nationals ace Max Scherzer (fractured finger) likely to miss Opening Day

MLB Notes: Nationals ace Max Scherzer (fractured finger) likely to miss Opening Day

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer probably will miss the Washington Nationals' opener against Miami on April 3 because of a stress fracture in his right ring finger.

The stress fracture caused Scherzer to change the grip on his fastball, placing three fingers on top of the ball instead of two.

Scherzer has thrown batting practice twice during spring training but has not appeared in a big league exhibition game. He was scheduled to pitch in a minor league exhibition Thursday.

Manager Dusty Baker says of Scherzer's opening-day availability: "At this point, probably no."

"Opening day I'm sure is important to him but not as important as the rest of the season," the manager adds.

A 32-year-old right-hander, Scherzer was 20-7 last season.

Baker says: "I'm sure he's not thinking DL. We're not thinking DL until that time gets here. If that time gets here, we'll make alternative plans."

MARLINS: Report says Fernandez likely operating boat during deadly accident
MIAMI -- A Florida Fish and Wildlife investigation in the boat crash that killed Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and two other men concluded the 24-year-old star was likely operating the vessel when it struck a jetty.

An agency report released Thursday included a chart listing the "probable seating location of occupants" from evidence collected after the crash off Miami Beach.

Fernandez and two others died when the pitcher's 32-foot boat struck a jetty just after 3 a.m. last Sept. 25. The report says the boat hit at 65.7 mph.

A previous toxicology report determined alcohol and drugs were a factor, adding the trio spent time at a Miami bar beforehand.

Tampa-based attorney Ralph E. Fernandez, a family friend, had questioned whether the pitcher was driving. He didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment Thursday.  

MLB: Roberto Alomar hired by MLB as special consultant
NEW YORK -- Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar has been hired by Major League Baseball as a special consultant and tasked with focusing on youth development in Puerto Rico.

The 49-year-old, inducted to the Hall in 2011, is to serve as an ambassador at events and development initiatives on the island, including youth clinics and tournaments. MLB has been concerned about the drop in Puerto Rican big leaguers: the 17 on opening day last year were the most on opening day since 20 in 2011 but down from a record 53 during the 2001 season.

A member of Toronto's World Series championship teams in 1992 and `93, Alomar was a 12-time All-Star during a big league career that spanned 1988-2004 with San Diego, the Blue Jays, Baltimore, Cleveland, the New York Mets, the Chicago White Sox and Arizona.

He was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and his father, Sandy, and brother, Sandy Jr., also were major leaguers.

Phillies trim roster, send Tyler Goeddel, Jake Thompson to minors

Phillies trim roster, send Tyler Goeddel, Jake Thompson to minors

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- With a week to go before they leave Florida, the Phillies made several roster moves on Friday morning.

Outfielder Tyler Goeddel, who spent all of last season in the majors, was optioned to the minor leagues.

Pitcher Jake Thompson, who made 10 starts in the majors for the Phillies last season, was also optioned to the minors. He is expected to open the season in the starting rotation at Triple A Lehigh Valley.

Goeddel, 24, joined the Phillies organization in December 2015 after being selected in the Rule 5 draft. He had originally been a first-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011.

Players selected in the Rule 5 draft must spend an entire season in the majors or be exposed to waivers and offered back to their original club. The Phillies kept Goeddel all of last season, fully securing his rights, but he received only 213 at-bats and hit just .192 with four homers and 16 RBIs.

The news on Goeddel was not completely surprising. The wintertime additions of outfielders Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders had made Goeddel a long shot to make the team.

"I knew going into camp I was going to have to earn my spot," he said. "There's a lot of guys in here that have been playing well. Whatever happened happened."

Goeddel needs to recoup some at-bats in the minor leagues. The question is: where? The Phillies have three top outfield prospects -- Roman Quinn, Nick Williams and Dylan Cozens -- who will require regular playing time at Triple A. It's possible that Goeddel could open the season at Double A.

Team officials discussed that possibility with him.

"They want me to get more at-bats," Goeddel said. "That's the main thing. Only getting 200 in your age-23 season is not enough.

"They said there's a chance I'm at Reading. I'm not too happy about that but you can't control it. That's where their most openings are and most consistent playing time.

"I want to play every day. It was tough last year playing sparingly. Getting at-bats is going to be great. Obviously, I wish it was up here. But at the end of the day, you can't control it."

Goeddel is still on the 40-man roster and as long as he stays on it can come back to the majors quite easily if a need arises.

"They said that," Goeddel said. "Last year (pitcher Alec) Asher started at Double A and was called up. They said that in there. They just want me to get at-bats. That was their main thing."

Thompson could be one of the first to return to the majors if a need arises in the starting rotation.

The 23-year-old right-hander was one of five prospects that the Phillies acquired from Texas for Cole Hamels in July 2015. He went 11-5 with a 2.50 ERA in 21 starts at Triple A last season and 3-6 with a 5.70 ERA with the big club.

The Phils also reassigned pitcher Dalier Hinojosa, catcher Logan Moore and infielder Hector Gomez to minor-league camp.

Twins 4, Phillies 2: Aaron Nola encouraged by good health, still looking for command

Twins 4, Phillies 2: Aaron Nola encouraged by good health, still looking for command

BOX SCORE

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Aaron Nola has not had a great spring.

But in the big picture, well, maybe he has.

Nola was one of the Phillies' biggest and most important question marks coming into camp. He had missed the final two months of the 2016 season because of an elbow injury. All he needed to do this spring to be in the starting rotation was show that he was healthy.

He's done that.

He pitched 5 2/3 innings against the Minnesota Twins and threw 82 pitches in his fifth start of the spring on Thursday. He gave up six hits, including a two-run homer, walked one and struck out six.

He's up to 17 2/3 innings for the spring -- without an elbow issue.

"I'm over that," Nola said after the game. "My elbow feels really good. I haven't had any pain or problems with it. I don't even think about it throwing or in games.

"Everything has been very positive. My body is healthy."

Nola, who lines up to fill the fifth spot in the Phillies' rotation, hasn't had good results this spring. He has given up 19 hits and 13 earned runs. But, again, the Phillies were only looking for good health.

"He's been working on his changeup," manager Pete Mackanin said. "Today, he threw more changeups than I've ever seen him throw. The changeup he threw for the home run, he admitted, 'I would never throw that pitch in a game.' But he's working on it, trying to get it going for him, and I think it's going to be a good pitch for him. 

"He really pitched better than the result he got. He had a lot of work with his changeup, which is important. He was as sharp as we've seen him."

Coming into camp, Mackanin was concerned about Nola's health.

"I'm less concerned right now," the manager said. "It's always going to be in the back of my mind. But it's good to see 92, 93, 94 (mph) coming out of his hand, which is important. Once he regains that command, and he showed real good command of his fastball down in the zone today, he's going to be back to where he was -- with even maybe a little more velocity. We'll see. But the changeup is going to help him. I'm very encouraged."

The game
The Phillies lost, 4-2, to the Twins.

The Phils had 10 hits, two by Odubel Herrera, who homered.

Andrew Knapp, pushing to make the club, started behind the plate and had a double.

The Phillies were just 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.

The Phils' bullpen -- Sean Burnett, Edubray Ramos and Hector Neris -- accounted for 3 1/3 innings of scoreless ball.

Up next
The Phils play the Yankees in Tampa on Friday. Jeremy Hellickson will start against CC Sabathia.