Monday Rockpile Links, 3/24: Fowler gives his side, Chatwood struggles with location

Just one more week until Opening Day (the real Opening Day). I can't wait!

Former Rockies and current Astros outfielder Dexter Fowler recently said he was pressured to play hurt last season. Excluding the Dan O'Dowd comments we already had from last winter, here's the money quote (via the Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich):

"I pressured myself into playing back last year with my finger, then I messed up my wrist, then I strain my (knee). Towards the end of the year they were like, 'Hey, you need to get out there and play.' I mean, my knee doesn't even feel stable. I don't think that's the best decision for my career to be out there. I understand that you want me out there. Don't get me wrong, I want to be out there more than anybody. It's no fun sitting on the bench. But, at the same time, you've got to put your life in perspective, and your family as well."

On the surface, it's a potentially juicy statement, but the more I dig here, the more it matches up with what we heard from the front office just before Dexter was dealt. There doesn't seem to be a tremendous amount of animosity here, just a strong difference of opinion that accelerated the end of his career with the Rockies.

I'd speculate that this was a situation where he was cleared by the medical staff to play but didn't feel 100 percent and didn't want to risk long-term injury in meaningless August and September games as he inched closer to a potentially big payday in a couple of offseasons. As cautious as the Rockies are with giving guys days off and not letting starters go past a certain pitch limit, I find it hard to believe that the Rockies would have asked Dexter to play if he was not cleared by the medical staff.

Tyler Chatwood had a rough outing yesterday as he nears the end of his spring training workload. In a video in that link, Chatwood didn't seem too concerned and chalked up the struggles to leaving too many pitchers over the plate and not getting his four-seam fastball in the locations he wanted. Control has been a problem for Chatwood this spring: he's walked as many hitters as he's struck out.

I wouldn't be worried at this stage, but it is something to keep an eye on during his first couple of starts in April.

Thomas Harding has a whole host off housecleaning links here including a bit on Rosario's start at first base. I guess it's not to have options and another way to get Rosario in the lineup, but the way this team is constructed, it's hard to see a scenario where Rosario at first on a Morneau off day or DL stint is the best move as it would keep Cuddyer and his below average defense in right, prevent a decent outfield bat from coming off the bench, and allow an extremely weak offensive catcher to be inserted into the lineup.  To put it another way, if Cuddyer can play first better than he can his current defensive position and Rosario can play first better than he can his current defensive position, why did you sign Justin Morneau?

Around MLB

Well this didn't take long. Yasiel Puig is already causing drama in the Dodgers clubhouse.

The Giants are reportedly not close to a contract extension with Pablo Sandoval who is eligible to become a free agent after this season. This is a big story to keep an eye on because it's likely going to take a fortune to keep Sandoval by the bay. While there are several excellent third basemen around the league even after Miguel Cabrera's move back to first (Evan Longoria, Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, David Wright, and Adrian Beltre probably top the list in no particular order), the dropoff between the tenth and twentieth best third baseman in the league is probably larger than that drop at any other position. In other words, Sandoval is likely to get a huge payday from somebody even if he doesn't get in shape because he still represents a huge upgrade over the bottom third of the players at this position.

The Giants are in a no-win situation here as both options present problems. San Francisco could hand Sandoval what will likely be an overpay, but that would really leave them cash strapped after you account for all the other large in-house contracts they've handed out recently. The other choice is to let Sandoval walk and endure what will likely be a significant drop-off in production at the hot corner since they have very few options in house here.

(This is where it's awesome to have Nolan Arenado for several more seasons. Even if he doesn't take the next step, he still represents a big upgrade over the sludge at the bottom of this position. If you want anything good from outside of your organization here, you're going to pay top dollar)

Injuries to important players have been an epidemic this March and now we can add another one to the list. Jurickson Profar of the Texas Rangers will miss 10 to 12 weeks with a shoulder injury. Last year, Texas enjoyed the luxury of having a surplus of middle infielders, now they have a shortage. Baseball can be so mean sometimes.

The Tigers are scrambling to fill their gaping hole at shortstop left by the loss of Jose Iglesias. So today they've acquired Alex Gonzalez from the Orioles. Yes, the same 37-year-old Alex Gonzalez who have a .266 OBP since the start of 2011, has been transitioning to first base with Milwaukee, and has only played a combined 65 games over the last two seasons. The Tigers are likely going to have to make a bigger move for a shortstop than this at some point during the season. That position is a huge problem for a team that's trying to take advantage of a window that's open right now.

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