Papa Grande slims down, plus Shaw makes Tribe

The decision on roster spots is closing in for Major League Baseball teams as they get ready to break camp in both Arizona and Florida. In fact, some of the teams have already announced some of, if not all of, their intentions.

However, there are still players looking for teams to land on this season, with one of those being former Osprey reliever Jose Valverde (2000).

Jose Valverde ... still looking for a team at the moment.

Jose Valverde … still looking for a team at the moment.

That could be solved soon. The free agent has not only shed the rough ending to last season with the Detroit Tigers, but he has shed some pounds, too.

According to his agent, Scott Boars, Valverde – nicknamed Papa Grande – has lost between 15-18 pounds, and, with that, has his fastball back up to 93-95 miles per hour. While it’s less likely that he will get a big contract, it is beginning to look like someone will give him a chance to get back into the game.

Valverde was due to pitch in the World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic, but had to back out due to an illness in the family. It sounds like, however, Papa Grande is getting back to his old self.

– The Cleveland Indians have announced that right-handed reliever Bryan Shaw (2008 Osprey) has earned an Opening Day roster spot. Shaw has a 1.00 ERA and 14 strikeouts in eight Cactus League appearances, spanning nine spring innings.

How long that Shaw will be with Cleveland is uncertain. The Tribe will be likely making a roster move early in the season – they placed DH Jason Giambi on the 15-day Disabled List with a sore back, as they announced that Giambi has been added to the 40-man roster.

– The Houston Astros have just about nailed down their Opening Day roster, and there could be at least one former Osprey player on it when the team hosts Texas in the season opener on Sunday night.

It won’t be Jake Elmore (2008), who was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Friday. Elmore struggled at the plate this spring (.226 average, two doubles, two RBIs), and with the young talent in front of him, he will have to preform for the Redhawks like he did last season in Reno in order to have a chance to make it to the Astros’ roster.

Hector Ambriz (2006), however, is still in the running. The right-handed reliever is battling for one of three remaining bullpen spots. In seven appearances, Ambriz has a 2.84 ERA and a WHIP of 1.11. Six of his seven appearances have not yielded a run.

– Then there is the roller coaster that outfielder Ender Inciarte (2009) is on with the Philadelphia Phillies.

His offense may not be to the level of his defense and speed, but it may be that ability to play defense and run like the wind that gets Inciarte into a Phillies uniform on April 1. Then again, the injuries the Fightings have had to deal with in the outfield may cost him a roster spot.

Inciarte, who is hitting .263 with a .370 on-base percentage heading into Tuesday’s exhibition action, is feeling understandably anxious:

“I’m thinking about it a lot and sometimes I feel anxious … I want to know where I’m going to be this year. I’m kind of waiting for that day to know that answer.”

One more move that helped him was the release of infielder Yuniesky Betancourt. That is one less position to determine on the roster, and it leaves the Phillies with 26 players on its active roster which aren’t on the 40-man roster. Plus, it looks like no one on the non-roster invitee list will make the club. The lone player on the active list who isn’t healthy is injured outfielder Delmon Young, who is headed to the DL when the season begins.

A decision will have to be made by Sunday, but it will likely happen closer to Friday, unless the Phillies find an outfielder to their liking outside of their system.

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