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Scott Boras thinks `pitching panic’ is setting in. Sonny Gray’s iffy hamstring may prove he’s right

 WBN  |    Mar 4th, 2024 5:53pm EST

Scott Boras thinks an uptick in what he’s calling “pitching panic” will heat up the market for free agents and Boras clients Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery, top-end starters still looking for work with opening day less than a month away.

“We’ve got so many starting pitchers who are now compromised — maybe short-term, but some long-term,” Boras said Monday. “The calls for elite starters are certainly starting to increase.”

Might be time to add St. Louis to the list after All-Star Sonny Gray exited his start against Washington on Monday in the second inning with right hamstring tightness.

Gray had a 1-1 count against Nick Senzel when he called timeout and promptly left the game. The right-hander, who finished runner-up to Yankee ace Gerrit Cole in AL Cy Young voting last year while playing for Minnesota, allowed one hit with a strikeout in 1 2/3 innings against the Nationals.

Gray was scheduled to have an MRI later Monday and declined to speak to reporters after his departure. The 34-year-old, who signed a $75 million, three-year deal with St. Louis in November, is slated to be St. Louis’ opening day starter.


Third baseman Matt Chapman is back where he once belonged. Well, almost.

The veteran third baseman — who spent five years as a fixture at third for the Oakland Athletics from 2017-21 — is returning to the Bay Area with San Francisco.

Chapman, who signed a $54 million, three-year deal to join the Giants, felt like he had something “special” going in Oakland early in his career before it was “ripped” out of the players’ hands by frugal ownership. That isn’t the case in San Francisco, which is trying to keep pace with the Dodgers and the reigning NL champion Arizona in the NL West.

“Getting to come back, be in an organization like the Giants, a team that’s not afraid to spend, go get free agents, keep guys together and keep adding,” Chapman said. “All the things you expect a winning franchise to do.”


Zack Wheeler feels comfortable in Philadelphia. The feeling is mutual.

The Phillies and the right-hander agreed to a $126 million, three-year deal for the 2025-27 seasons that makes Wheeler one of the highest-paid players in the majors.

“What it tells us is we think Zack is as good as anybody in baseball right now,” team president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. “For us right now, when we look over the last handful of years, we think Zack Wheeler is as fine a pitcher in the game of baseball.”

The 33-year-old Wheeler is 43-25 with a 3.06 ERA in three seasons with Philadelphia and 87-63 with a 3.49 ERA in nine years with the Phillies and the Mets. It comes with a year left on the five-year, $118 million he signed to join Philadelphia before the 2021 season.

“I think it works out for me, I think it works out for the team,” Wheeler said. “I’d rather have it now than go to free agency and see what happens.”


Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his first home run of spring training, taking a 93 mph inside fastball from Philadelphia’s Nick Nelson in the first inning and turning it into a 438-foot drive over the batter’s eye at TD Park.

The 24-year-old Guerrero, who set a record in February by winning a $19.9 million salary arbitration case against the Blue Jays, is hitting .462 through five games.


Pittsburgh Pirates two-time All-Star closer David Bednar is taking a few days off to deal with some tightness in his right lat.

The 29-year-old Bednar felt a tweak recently, and the team has shut him down for a few days as a precaution. Bednar has yet to appear in a Grapefruit League game yet, though the Pirates did bolster the back end of the bullpen after signing Aroldis Chapman to a one-year deal in January.

“He’s going to have some rest, and then once he starts throwing again, I think we’ll have a better idea of where he’s actually at and know how he feels,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said Monday.


Josh Donaldson is calling it a career. The 2015 AL MVP announced his retirement during an appearance on “The Mayor’s Office” podcast hosted by former major league first baseman Sean Casey.

The 38-year-old Donaldson hit .261 with 279 home runs and 843 RBIs while playing for seven teams across 13 seasons. A three-time All-Star, Donaldson led the AL with 123 RBIs in 2015, when he helped the Blue Jays reach the ALCS.

Donaldson had been a free agent after finishing up the 2023 season with Milwaukee.

“There were a couple of opportunities out there, but at the end of the day, things weren’t really clicking and meshing for myself to be ready and go into a season mentally and physically ready to play,” Donaldson told Casey.


Pirates pitching prospect Paul Skenes, the top overall pick in last summer’s amateur draft, enjoyed a bit of a roller coaster in his second spring training appearance.

The 21-year-old — who retired Baltimore in order in one inning of work last week — gave up a home run to Tampa Bay’s Amed Rosario leading off the fourth inning. Rosario turned on a pitch down and in and sent it into the bullpen behind the left field fence.

Skenes settled down from there, allowing a pair of singles over two innings while also recording his first three strikeouts of the spring.


AP Baseball Writers Ronald Blum and David Brandt and AP Sports Writers Dan Gelston and Steve Megargee contributed to this report.


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb