Hamilton recently received good news as his MRI showed no structural damage. He could be ready for a nearly full spring workload sometime next week. Fantasy owners in mixed leagues shouldn't plan on drafting him yet, outside of extremely deep games, but AL-only competitors will be watching intently to see whether he can carve out consistent at-bats via a productive exhibition performance.
Hamilton tweaked his surgically-repaired knee this past Tuesday, and flew to Houston to consult with his surgeon, but it appears to be OK shape. The veteran outfielder, who was signed to a minor league deal this offseason, will scale back his baseball activities for a few days before attempting to give it a go once more.
Early in the first year of a $161 million, seven-year contract, the Orioles first baseman injured his left hand while diving into a base. Davis still played 157 games -- second most in his major league career -- but hit just .221 and struck out a career-high 219 times. He says the offseason was what he needed. "I think the biggest thing was really the rest and the time off and not having the physical contact and the beating that I did every day when I was swinging and taking balls at first base," Davis said. Now at full strength, there's reason to believe the 30-year-old's numbers will rebound from last year's dip.
Following the retirement of Mark Teixeira at the conclusion of last season, Bird appeared to have the inside track to take over at first base and it appears he still maintains that edge despite the late offseason signing of Chris Carter. Bird missed all of 2016 with a shoulder injury and though he was only able to participate in the Arizona Fall League as a DH, the 24-year-old is heading into spring training fully healthy and with no restrictions.
It's scary news for Hamilton, who underwent ACL surgery on the same knee last season. After progressing through the offseason without any setbacks, the 36-year-old felt a "tweak" while running the bases and immediately left for Houston. Hamilton has been trying to make a transition to first base in an effort to earn a spot on the opening day roster, but this could be a damaging hindrance to those aspirations.
A 2011 draft pick of the Cubs, Vogelbach arrived in Seattle last July 20 and eventually logged his first 12 major league at-bats late in the season. A burly 6-foot, 250-pounder, Vogelbach worked diligently with his brother, a trainer, this offseason to improve his lateral mobility and first-step quickness. He also added yoga into his stretching routine in attempt to maximize the flexibility of his hips and hamstrings, all with the goal of insuring a roster spot by proving his defensive viability at first base. The 24-year-old's bat is a much more established commodity, as most recently evidenced by his .292/.417/.505 line with 25 doubles, two triples, 23 homers and 96 RBI over a combined 459 at-bats at Triple-A Iowa and Tacoma last season. If he can translate the improvement he's showing in workouts to spring training games, Vogelbach should secure himself a spot on the 25-man roster and serve as yet another source of power in a potent Mariners lineup.
Travis rehabbed last season's ACL surgery on his left knee and has had no restrictions at spring training. The Chicago native made a splash during last year's spring training and hit well for Triple-A Pawtucket before suffering the season-ending injury in late May. He'll repeat with the PawSox to start the season, but a trip to Boston is expected at some point in 2017. It's just a question of when and which path leads him there -- an organic second-half callup, a struggling Mitch Moreland, or a Hanley Ramirez injury.
Abreu opened the 2016 season hitting .242 with a .686 OPS and six homers in his first 52 games, before coming around in June. Perhaps the poor start was partially attributable to his conditioning to start the season. The 30-year-old Cuban said he put a lot of effort into his body during the offseason with eye toward better coming out the gate in April.
Reed's prospect status took a big hit last season when he batted just .164 with three home runs, three doubles and a .532 OPS in 141 plate appearances for the Astros. The bat is the skill that got him to the majors, so if he ain't hitting. Reed isn't "relevant on our team," in the words of Hinch. The big-bodied first baseman gained some weight over the course of last season and, in addition to finding his hitting stroke, will need to maintain mobility to stay on the field. At 23, it's a bit early in the career to be a one-dimensional, DH-only player -- not in today's MLB where roster flexibility is paramount. We expect him to start the season at Triple-A Fresno.
Minnesota's DH spot is an open competition as Byungho Park and Robbie Grossman could also figure into the mix. Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano also figure to get time at DH as the Twins may regularly use the DH spot to give them days off from being in the field. Vargas had 10 home runs in 47 games last season, along with a .833 OPS and 13.6 percent walk rate. However, he'll need to make better contact (63 percent contact rate). It's also possible the switch hitter could platoon against lefties since he's shown sharp platoon splits (a MLB career 1.262 OPS vs. lefties, .654 OPS vs. righties).