You can call them X-factors, wild cards or catalysts. The name doesn’t matter. What does is their performance. Whether filling in for the injured or stepping into new situations, such players can figure into a team’s success as much as the superstars.
Jon Rauch, Twins
This was shaping up to be a splendid summer in Minnesota until Joe Nathan blew out his elbow and was lost for the season. Instead of turning to leads over to one of the game’s best closers, Ron Gardenhire now says he will use a closer-by-committee approach — another way of saying he doesn’t really have a bonafide closer. Rauch is the committee member with the most closing experience. He will share opportunities with Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain and lefty Jose Mijares.
Franklin Morales, Rockies
A healthy Huston Street at closer would make picking the Rockies ahead of the Dodgers an easy decision. But a shoulder problem is jeopardizing Street’s season and, perhaps, the Rockies’ best chance of winning their first division title. Street reported stiffness after playing catch over the weekend and is expected to start the season on the disabled list.
Without Street, the Rockies figure to turn to the lefty Morales, who went 7-for-7 in save chances last September when Street was unavailable. Morales, however, spent 2 1-2 months on the disabled list last season with his own shoulder injury. The Rockies’ top setup man, Rafael Betancourt, also has suffered arm woes this spring.
Posted: March 30, 2010 at 11:42 AM | 3 comment(s)
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