Baseballs were flying around Arizona and Florida as the Spring Training camps for the 30 MLB clubs got into the swing of things Thursday. It's a time for optimism, as well as fresh bodies and minds for players before the regular season begins to take its toll.
The following are health-related notes you should know about from today's Spring Training action, as compiled by MLB.com's team reporters and contributors.
Bogaerts expects bounceback; Ramirez takes to the field
The 2017 season was a bit of a surprise for Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who was coming off his first All-Star Game selection and entered the year with high expectations at the plate. An injury to Bogaerts' right hand played a part in curtailing his offensive numbers, particularly in the power department, but MLB.com's Ian Browne reported that Bogaerts is looking forward to an uptick in his performance now that his hand is pain-free.
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"Yeah, I definitely do think so," Bogaerts said when asked if he expected to regain his power. "I'm not saying I'm going out and hitting 60 like [Giancarlo] Stanton or something, but I can definitely go out there and put up the same numbers as '16, maybe a little bit better. That's the kind of stuff I'm looking forward to this year."
Bogaerts admitted Thursday that he may have done himself and his team a disservice by coming back too soon from the right hand contusion he sustained when he was hit by a pitch on July 6. Bogaerts was a Final Vote candidate for the All-Star Game after a typically excellent first half, but slashed just .235/.324/.347 in the second half.
Browne also reported that Hanley Ramirez is expected to participate in defensive drills upon his arrival to Red Sox camp in the next few days. Ramirez was unable to play defense in Spring Training last year due to shoulder discomfort, but his ability to play first base this season would give Boston's lineup more flexibility, especially if the Red Sox are able to acquire J.D. Martinez and use him as the primary DH.
Chapman ready to dominate again
Yankees closer Albertin Chapman finished the 2017 season with numbers that many relievers would be proud of (3.22 ERA, 22 saves, 69 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings) but were also below his standards. It was a rocky season for Chapman -- he was removed from his closer role in August before regaining it three weeks later -- and the left-hander told MLB.com contributor Ralph Long on Thursday that he made adjustments this offseason that should have him feeling healthier and more consistent in 2018.
"I worked a lot on my shoulder and my arm," Chapman said through a translator. "I want to become stronger and have more stamina to prevent injuries and fatigue."
Chapman logged plenty of high-leverage innings in 2016 while helping the Cubs to a World Series championship, but the fireballer refused to blame that workload for his struggles last season.
"Chicago is two years ago, so I couldn't blame that," Chapman said. "I have a little fatigue on my shoulder, but at the end I was able to get back to myself."
Salazar battling rotator cuff soreness
The talent and pure stuff has always been there for Indians starter Danny Salazar. The righty's biggest roadblock has been health, an issue he battled again this offseason.
MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reported Thursday that Salazar experienced right rotator cuff inflammation while working through his offseason throwing program in mid-January. He was evaluated and shut down by the Indians at that point, but president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti noted that Salazar has resumed a throwing program.
"He's now back throwing, but he's a little bit behind the other guys," Antonetti said.
Salazar entered camp locked in a battle with Mike Clevinger, Ryan Merritt and Josh Tomlin for the final two slots in Cleveland's rotation. Antonetti was noncomittal when asked if Salazar would be fully recovered by Opening Day.
"We're not sure," Antonetti said. "I think the thing we're focused on right now is just making sure that Danny's ready to contribute for the bulk of the season the way we all know he's capable of. And if that's Opening Day, great. If it's later than that, that's fine. I think what we want to make sure we do is take the long view and try to get the most out of Danny for the bulk of the season."
Rodon progressing through rehab
White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon is in the process of working his way back from the arthroscopic surgery he received on this throwing shoulder last September, and MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported Thursday that Rodon completed a two-week throwing program as the first step of that rehab process.
Rodon was scheduled throw Thursday, marking the first time he'd done so on back-to-back days since his surgery.
"I know I will be back at some point," Rodon said. "I can't tell you when, but I will be back pitching for my teammates."
Rodon missed plenty of bats in limited action for Chicago last season, striking out 76 batters in 69 1/3 innings. He was only able to make 12 starts, however, and was shut down in September.