Poking around the American League East:
*Blue Jays: Outfielder Melky Cabrera will be under more scrutiny this season, both figuratively and literally. As someone who has violated Major League Baseball’s rules on use of performance-enhancing drugs — which cost him a 50-game suspension last year while a member of the Giants — Cabrera will be subject to more testing than other players.
"A player who has tested positive previously will have six additional tests besides his random tests,” said Michael Weiner, executive director of the players association, who was visiting Dunedin, Fla., on Monday as part of his rounds of spring-training camps. “Melky Cabrera, because he tested positive last year, has, over the course of this season, six follow-up tests that will be scheduled at random. In addition to that, Melky will have whatever random tests that come up as part of the program."
*Red Sox: Pitcher Steven Wright, acquired last year from the Indians in a minor-league deal, is trying to make a spot for himself in the majors by turning to the knuckleball. He has himself an eminently qualified tutor in Boston’s camp in Tim Wakefield, the former Red Sox artist of the knuckler.
Wakefield said he can offer Wright something that only a member of the knuckle fraternity can.
“Just somebody to talk to who knows something about the pitch he's throwing," Wakefield said. "When I was just coming up, I had pitching coaches that told me, 'I don't know anything about it.' It's refreshing to be able to contribute to the legacy of a pitch by helping him out. I had Phil and Joe Niekro and Charlie [Hough] and [Tom] Candiotti around. I was learning. To be able to give back to somebody that's taken up the pitch, it's pretty special for me."
And though the knuckleball is a funny pitch, it’s not nearly as funny as the Steven Wright.
*Rays: Much like the Orioles, the Rays are set in the first four spots in their rotation and have multiple candidates to fill the No. 5 position. After David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore and Alex Cobb, the competition is among Jeff Niemann, Roberto Hernandez, Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi.
Niemann has won this game before, but that doesn’t mean he necessarily knows exactly what it will take for him to win it again.
"No, I'm not sure any of us really understand," Niemann said. "We just go out there and do our thing, and somehow we seem to fit in this thing we got going here, and it works well. As far as asking me what it would actually take [to win the job], I have no idea."