Teams Finalize Rosters as Opening Day Nears

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Daniel Bard

Spring training is where much of the early part of the infamous 1989 Major League is set. Even in Hollywood, fictitious Cleveland Indians manager Lou Brown had some tough roster decisions to make, using the method of placing a red tag inside the lockers of the players who didn’t make the team.

As for actual major league managers, now is that time for them. The season opens for most teams on Monday and organization leaders are finalizing their 25-man rosters. For some players on the bubble, they have earned a spot on their team’s roster. For others, they got their own version of the red tag, though they probably handled the news better than Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn when he thought he was being cut.

Daniel Bard – Boston Red Sox Pitcher 

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Daniel Bard
Boston Red Sox pitcher Daniel Bard before delivering a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre Tom Szczerbowski USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Bard is the victim of not only a deep bullpen, but also poor performance. After the disaster that was his attempted transition into a starting role early last year, he was sent down to AAA Pawtucket to retool in the bullpen. He never did figure it out in 2012 and his 6.75 ERA this spring shows he still has work to do, though some scouts have noted improvement over last year. With the Red Sox seemingly possessing bullpen depth, with the likes of Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, Junichi Tazawa, and Koji Uehara, they decided to start his year back at AA Portland in the hope he can regain the form that made him a dominant reliever in 2010.

Marlon Byrd – New York Mets Outfielder

The word for Marlon Byrd is major leaguer. Well, that’s two words, but you get the idea. The 35-year-old played his way on to the Mets’ roster after a very successful spring during which he hit .346/.375/.558 with eight doubles. Not bad for a guy who signed a minor league deal in the offseason and said he would retire if he didn’t make the opening day roster. He is viewing this opportunity as a last chance and it very well may be. There isn’t much of a market for a declining outfielder (.210/.243/.245 in 47 games in 2012 with the Red Sox and Chicago Cubs) with a performance-enhancing drug suspension in his recent past. Alas, he will probably be starting in right field at Citi Field on Monday.

Lyle Overbay – New York Yankees First Baseman

There was always a chance Lyle Overbay was going to make a major league roster. He signed a minor league contract in January with an invitation to spring training. That, however, was with the Red Sox. Until Tuesday. Later that day he was signed by the Yankees and immediately leapt to the top of their depth chart as the team’s top first baseman. It’s a telling decision that shows the dire straits in which the Yankees find themselves as they deal with injuries to Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. For the Yankees to pull from the scrap heap of a rebuilding Boston team by claiming a first baseman with waning power and a .241 batting average over the last three years shows how desperate they are for anything. Teixeira can’t recover soon enough.

Bruce Rondon – Detroit Tigers Closer

Heading into the spring, Bruce Rondon was set up to be the Tigers’ new closer. The young fireballer has all the tools to be an effective ninth inning man, but that day will have to wait. Rondon was optioned to AAA Toledo to hone his skills there. He had only pitched eight innings above AA in his career and it showed this spring. Rondon struggled early and often in spring training, wrestling with command of his pitches and his control. By the time March was over he finished with a 5.84 ERA in 12 innings and issued 9 walks. He did strike out 19. Now that Rondon will start in the minors, the Tigers will be left with the always risky closer by committee featuring a rotation that could include Joaquin Benoit, Phil Coke, Octavio Dotel, and Al Alburquerque.

Miguel Tejada – Kansas City Royals Infielder

Former American League MVP Miguel Tejada found himself just fighting to make a major league roster, but found his home in Kansas City. The Royals are keeping Tejada as a utility infielder. It’s a far cry from when he was the center of the Oakland Athletics’ lineups in the early 2000s, but it’s still a job. Last year he failed to make the Baltimore Orioles’ roster and played with AAA Norfolk for a couple months before requesting his release. But, with a successful appearance in the World Baseball Classic, in which he hit .316 in 7 games for the Dominican Republic, and a solid spring with the Royals, going .353/.371/.471 in 15 games, he’s earned himself another shot in the majors.

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Tony Consiglio
Tony Consiglio is a lifelong baseball fan and has worked for television and radio stations throughout New England. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+'://';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');