Phillies prospect Painter shines with early spring heat

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The stage almost seemed too big for builder Andrew Painter.

The Philadelphia Phillies shortstop hit 99 mph in his first spring training game against Minnesota on Wednesday. The 19-year-old allowed one run and three hits with a strikeout in two innings, a strong first step as he tries to crack Philadelphia’s starting rotation before his 20th birthday on April 10.

The 6-foot-7 pitcher showed a bit why the Phillies are so high on him. The 13th overall pick in the 2021 rookie draft almost didn’t reach 100 mph on the radar gun while facing Carlos Correa in the first inning, though Correa reached on an infield single.

“You know, (Correa) is really good at what he does,” Painter joked to reporters afterward. “So just trying to get on with it.”

Painter threw 18 of 29 pitches for strikes and stopped Max Kepler with a 90 mph cutter. He ran into some trouble in the second inning after allowing consecutive singles to Christian Vázquez and Nick Gordon before giving up a run on a sacrifice fly. The game ended in a 4-4 tie.

Phillies catcher Garrett Stubbs praised Painter’s pitching, which Painter described in part as he played at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers during his bid for Class A affiliate Philadelphia last year.

“I felt like we didn’t even get to the point where he can get to, but he did really well,” Stubbs said. “You saw the kind of repertoire. He can spin the ball. He was throwing strikes. Obviously a very good heater and I don’t even think today’s heater was as good as it usually is. So I think we have even more to see from him. “

Painter went through the Philadelphia system in 2022, going 6-2 with a 1.48 ERA in 26 appearances across two Class A teams and Double-A Reading.


Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale will likely make his Grapefruit League debut next week.

The seven-time All-Star threw 43 pitches over two innings of batting practice on Wednesday. Boston manager Alex Cora told reporters that Sale should be cleared to work two to three innings in a game sometime next week.

The 33-year-old prospect was limited to two starts last year and 11 total starts from 2020 due to multiple health issues. Sale arrived in spring training without any restrictions, though Boston is slowly ramping up the left-hander in hopes of avoiding any setbacks.


New York Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu went 1 for 2 against Washington in his first game since being sidelined last September with a right heel injury.

He singled off the left field wall in the third, and played four innings at second base. More importantly, LeMahieu enjoyed pain-free at-bats for the first time since the middle of last season.

“I’m excited about that,” LeMahieu said. “Excited to keep going. I’ve been feeling good, and I expected it to stay that way.”

LeMahieu was limited to 125 regular season games last year and missed the playoffs. He finished the season with a .261 batting average, his lowest since 2011.

“It’s awesome to see him up,” Yankees left fielder Giancarlo Stanton said. “He’s a force for us, and he’s a threat to kittens.”


The Kansas City Royals signed veteran Jackie Bradley Jr. to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, where he will have a chance to earn playing time in the wide open field.

The Royals recently traded center fielder Michael A. Taylor to Minnesota for prospects, and Drew Waters emerged as the first to take over the job. But he strained an oblique and is expected to miss the start of the season, leaving the Royals with an interesting competition in spring training.

Bradley, 32, will have to surpass Kyle Isbel, among other youngsters, to earn the starting job.

Bradley was an All-Star in eight seasons with Boston, where he was highly regarded for his defense but often fell short of expectations at the plate. He signed a two-year, $24 million deal with Milwaukee two years ago, but hit just .163 and was sent back to Boston before being released and signed by Toronto.

He batted .203 with four homers and 38 RBIs in 131 games between the Red Sox and Blue Jays last season.


The Cleveland Cavaliers are hoping some rest will help standout outfielder George Valera, who left the show Tuesday with an apparent right hand injury.

Valera, who was considered the No. 2 prospect in Cleveland’s organization, had to leave while at bat in the second inning after fouling out of a pitch. He underwent surgery on the same hand during the offseason to repair a fractured femur.

Manager Terry Francona said Valera will receive treatment before the team’s medical staff considers any imaging tests.

Valera hit .250 with 24 homers and 84 RBI at Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus last season. Also, Francona said lefty reliever Sam Hentges is dealing with shoulder inflammation and will be evaluated weekly.

Hentges has become a reliable bullpen piece for Francona. Last season, the 26-year-old went 3-2 with a 2.32 ERA in 57 games.

“After Sam went in the other day, he came in and his shoulder just wasn’t bouncing back the way he wanted,” Francona said. “They took a picture of it. There’s some swelling around his shoulder ligaments.”


Catcher Ben Rortvedt is out indefinitely after a procedure to treat what Yankees manager Aaron Boone called an “aneurysm of his posterior artery” near his left shoulder.

The injury is the latest in a series of setbacks for Rortvedt, who came to New York as part of the trade that sent catcher Gary Sánchez to Minnesota last season. Rortvedt was expected to compete for a roster spot but instead never appeared in a major league game due to oblique and knee injuries.


The early results on Major League Baseball’s decision to limit transfers are promising.

Runs and batting averages were both up through the first wave of games compared to spring training a year ago. Players were hitting .272 through February 28, with an average of 11.9 runs scored. That’s up from a .259 batting average and 10.6 runs during the same period in 2022.

The increase in offense does not appear to affect the pace of play, due in large part to the introduction of the pitch clock. The average playing time through February 28 was 2 hours, 39 minutes. That’s down from 3:01 over the same stretch of training last spring.

Umpires will remain aggressive in enforcing time rules. Cleveland shortstop Jose Tena was called out for not engaging the pitcher until there were less than eight seconds left on the clock.


Ronald Guzmán is really trying his hand at pitching. And the San Francisco Giants are really giving the first baseman a shot.

The 28-year-old Guzmán pitched the ninth inning of San Francisco’s 8-5 loss to Arizona. Guzman allowed a solo home run to PJ Higgins but also hit Jake Hager on three pitches. Guzmán was effective, throwing eight of his 12 pitches for strikes.

Guzmán signed a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training as a two-way player with San Francisco in the winter. The 6-foot-5 left-hander played in 246 games for Texas and the New York Yankees from 2018-22 as a first baseman and designated hitter.

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