MLB Notes: Reds pick newcomer Scott Feldman to start against the Phillies on opening day

MLB Notes: Reds pick newcomer Scott Feldman to start against the Phillies on opening day

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Cincinnati Reds have chosen newcomer Scott Feldman to start on opening day against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Injuries have depleted the Reds' rotation for the second straight spring training. Homer Bailey had surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow and is expected to miss the first two months of the season. Anthony DeSclafani, who was in line to start the opener on April 3, will go on the disabled list with a sore pitching elbow.

It'll be the third opening day start for the 33-year-old Feldman. The right-hander also started season openers for Texas in 2010 and Houston in 2014.

Feldman signed a one-year deal with the Reds on Jan. 26 that guarantees him $2.3 million. He has a chance to make an additional $2.2 million based upon starts.

Yankees: Gregorius injures shoulder
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius has a bruised right shoulder, ending his time at the World Baseball Classic and leaving his status for opening day in doubt.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn't put on a timetable on a return, only saying, "He's going to be sidelined for a bit."

It is not certain how or when Gregorius got hurt while helping the Netherlands reach the semifinals of the WBC. He hit .348, driving in eight runs and scoring five in the tournament.

Gregorius had an MRI in Los Angeles on Sunday. He was returning to the Yankees' spring training complex in Tampa and will be re-evaluated by team doctors.

Girardi said the doctor who initially examined Gregorius was "really encouraged by his strength."

The 27-year-old Gregorius hit .276 with 20 home runs and 70 RBIs last season.

The Yankees have backup shortstops Ronald Torreyes and Ruben Tejada in camp, along with utilityman Tyler Wade and top prospect Gleyber Torres.

Rays: Kiermaier finalizes 6-year deal
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Defensive standout Kevin Kiermaier and the Tampa Bay Rays have finalized a six-year, $53.6 million contract extension that keeps the centerfielder with the team through 2022.

The deal announced Monday includes a club option for 2023 which -- including incentives -- could boost the value of the agreement to $66.15 million.

The two-time AL Gold Glove winner avoided salary arbitration in January when he agreed to a one-year contract that would pay him $2.975 million for the upcoming season.

The 26-year-old made $514,400 last season while batting .246 with 12 homers, 37 RBIs and career-best 21 stolen bases in 105 games.

Kiermaier missed 48 games with a broken left hand last year, including a stretch when the Rays lost 22 of 25 games to tumble to last place in the AL East.

Phillies 7, Blue Jays 1: Velasquez and Joseph show off their power

Phillies 7, Blue Jays 1: Velasquez and Joseph show off their power

BOX SCORE

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Phillies showed a little power in their 7-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night.

Tommy Joseph provided some of it.

Vince Velasquez provided a lot of it.

Joseph crushed a two-run home run to left field and also lined a double off the center-field wall on his way to a four-hit game. The double came off his bat at 109 miles per hour. The homer was his third of the spring.

Meanwhile, Velasquez showed off his big fastball in striking out seven Blue Jays over five innings of work. Vinny Velo's final pitch of the night was a 97-mph dart past a swinging Jose Bautista.

"That pitch felt really good coming out of my hand," Velasquez said. "Sometimes my fastball slips a little bit and I yank it, but this one I got right behind and threw it right through the catcher."

Velasquez actually struck out the side in that fifth inning against three pretty good hitters in Russell Martin, Josh Donaldson and Bautista.

"That last inning, he really let it go," manager Pete Mackanin said.

Pitch economy remains an area that Velasquez needs to improve on. He threw 87 pitches. But he was pleased with the way he attacked hitters in that final inning of work.

"I didn't attack in one inning," he said. "But in that last inning, I stopped fiddling around and trusted my stuff. I need to do that the whole time."

Velasquez gave up just one run, a homer to Martin. He allowed five hits and walked two.

Velasquez had a busy night. He drove home a run with a ground out against Aaron Sanchez. He also walked against Sanchez and scored a run on a dash home from third base after Freddy Galvis got hung up between first and second. Galvis waved Velasquez home. After crossing home plate, Velasquez, rather humorously, almost ran into the netted backstop.

"I just had momentum. I got excited," he said. "As soon as I saw Tulo (shortstop Troy Tulowitzki) make eye contact with Freddy, I booked it. He's going to think, 'Pitchers can't run,' so I showed off my athleticism."

After the outing, Velasquez pronounced himself ready for the regular season.

"I'm good to go," he said.

He made five Grapefruit League starts and gave up eight runs in 19 2/3 innings. He walked nine and struck out 25.

"It's been a strong, healthy, successful spring training," he said.

Velasquez will likely start the home opener on April 7. He will need to get some work in this weekend. The Phillies leave Florida on Friday. He could stay behind for a day and pitch at the minor-league complex if needed.

Offense clicks
The Phillies had 12 hits. They had 15 in Sunday's 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Up next
The Phillies play the Blue Jays again on Tuesday night. That game will be in Clearwater. Aaron Nola will start against Marco Estrada.

Andrew Knapp to make Phillies' roster -- remaining roster decisions are close

Andrew Knapp to make Phillies' roster -- remaining roster decisions are close

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The pathway for Andrew Knapp to make the Phillies' opening day roster as the backup catcher was cleared way back in November when he was added to the 40-man roster.

The job all but became Knapp's on Monday when the team released two veteran catchers who were not on the 40-man roster. When Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday were let go, Knapp became one of just two catchers in camp, the other being starter Cameron Rupp (see story).

So it's pretty obvious that the 25-year-old Knapp will open the season with the big club -- even though nothing will become official until rosters are filed with the commissioner's office this weekend.

"Obviously there are four or five days left," Knapp said. "I'm just going to keep trying to make good impressions and try to win a job. I'm keeping my head down, trying not to think about it too much."

Knapp was the Phillies' second-round draft pick of Cal-Berkeley in 2013. He has never played in the majors.

"It would be a dream come true," he said. "Everyone hopes to get called up at some point but to make a team on opening day would be pretty special and it would be the best moment in my career so far."

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin acknowledged that Knapp would probably make the club.

Mackanin would like to have the rest of his roster in order over the next day or two.

"As soon as possible," he said. "Because the last four or five games I'd like to play almost as if it were a season -- using the bullpen that way, using the bench in a certain way, seeing what it looks like, our bench guys, all our hitters. We just don't want to make a bad decision so we're just going to string it out as long as we can."

Roster questions must still be answered on the bench and in the bullpen.

How does the bench shape up? Andres Blanco, Aaron Altherr and Knapp are set. The Phils are expected to go with a five-man bench so that leaves two openings. There are four players vying for those spots: Chris Coghlan, Daniel Nava, Brock Stassi and Jesmuel Valentin. Valentin has impressed, but at 22 years old, he would benefit from playing every day at Triple A.

Mackanin praised Stassi's work on Monday. If Stassi makes the club, the final spot would come down to Coghlan and Nava.

"Stassi has obviously made a great impression, mainly because, not necessarily because of his results, but the fact that he had a lot of quality at-bats," Mackanin said. "It looks like he can handle making adjustments to the different pitchers and different situations. He seemed to handle left-handers well. He made a good impression, as has Coughlan. Nava has also been consistent throughout the spring."

Stassi, Coghlan and Nava are all non-roster players so the Phils would have to clear 40-man roster space to add any of them.

Two spots remain open in the bullpen. Adam Morgan, Joely Rodriguez, Luis Garcia, Alec Asher and Cesar Ramos are the candidates. All but Ramos is on the 40-man roster.

How will this all shake out?

More answers are probably coming Tuesday.