It's possible that Kendrys Morales could see action on a Cactus League diamond wearing a cap bedecked with an A and a halo this week. Considering that the switch-hitting one-time American League MVP candidate fractured his lower left leg in a home-plate celebration after winning a game with a grand slam on May 29, 2010, and hasn't played since, that's about as good as it gets for manager Mike Scioscia and friends.
Morales ran the bases for the first time since the injury on Sunday, and he said he might be ready to play this week. For a team that added Albert Pujols to the lineup and C.J. Wilson to what was already one of the best starting rotations in baseball, it's a significant development.
After running five times from home to first, twice from first to third and once from first to home plate, Morales said he's just about there.
"All I have to do is get a little bit more confidence [in the ankle]," Morales said. "That's really all I'm missing."
On the East Coast, in Port St. Lucie, Fla., the already banged-up New York Mets on Sunday were facing a week in which they could be missing a big piece of their current and future plans.
Third baseman David Wright left camp for New York to have his left rib cage examined. The five-time All-Star might need a cortisone injection, and his return date is unknown. Reliever Tim Byrdak also went north to have his stiff left knee inspected, so don't expect either player to see action this week.
"I'm trying to write the lineup for [Monday], and I keep scratching guys off the trip," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
On a more positive note, the coming week should bring a lot "Mo" of Mariano Rivera.
The venerable Yankees closer and future Hall of Famer, whose age finally matches his grandfathered uniform No. 42, made his spring debut on Sunday -- a perfect inning on 14 pitches -- to a standing ovation. He should have that famous cutter cutting in front of an adoring crowd again soon.
"For me, it's what I have to do to be ready to pitch," Rivera said. "It's Spring Training, the first outing. You just have to do what you have to do. I did what I wanted to do. I threw my pitches, and I'm ready for the next outing."
In Nationals camp in Viera, Fla., top prospect Bryce Harper is just about ready to get back after it on the field after missing time with a calf strain. Harper, who has been hitting off a tee, is not expected to play on Monday, but he could play soon, skipper Davey Johnson said.
"I like to see a full workout and then give them another day, so we'll see," Johnson said when asked about Monday. "That's probably not on his schedule. On his schedule, he'd probably be in the lineup."
In Jupiter, Fla., the Cardinals will remain hopeful this week that the bulging disk in starter Chris Carpenter's neck doesn't prevent the veteran from taking his turn on Opening Day. Carpenter was expected to address the media about his situation on Monday.
In the meantime, the Cards will be looking at options to replace Carpenter in the rotation if the righty isn't ready when the bell rings. Manager Mike Matheny said on Monday that Lance Lynn, working to date as a reliever, will be given longer assignments so that he can be ready to start, if needed, by Opening Day.
"Right now, he is progressing. So the way we're looking at it ... it's very positive," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said of Carpenter. "... We're encouraged with where he's at. Obviously, the next big test will be when he goes out and throws."
In Phoenix, this week should bring more evidence in the ongoing quest to unravel the mystery behind Yoenis Cespedes, who has looked impressive so far in Oakland A's camp. Cespedes homered in his first spring game on Saturday, before going hitless in three at-bats on Sunday.
The Cuban defector will get a lot more eyeballs on his exploits beginning on Monday -- as scouting reports begin to develop. A few things are already well known about the man the A's signed for four years and $36 million, however.
He's quite an athlete, and he's happy to be taking his hacks in the desert sunshine.
"I am going to try to be a better player here than I was in Cuba," Cespedes said through an interpreter. "This is the best baseball in the world. There's not even any comparison."