Updates on Niemann, Fuld
RHP Jeff Niemann won't pitch until Friday's split-squad games, giving him three extra days rest (and seven total) since his last outing on March 14 in Sarasota, when he showed slightly decreased velocity.
But Niemann said again Tuesday he felt fine and the change was not because he needed, or the team suggested, the extra rest but for scheduling purposes so he could start in a big-league game rather than working in a minor-league game as he had been pitching on the same day as RHP Jeremy Hellickson.
"This was this was the easiest solution, giving me a few extra days is just a by-product of trying to separate everybody else and all that,'' Niemann said. "It's solely because I was going to pitch in a minor-league game and I would rather pitch in a big league game and if I have to have a few extra days that's not the worst thing ever. It just made things flow better.''
OF Sam Fuld (out since March 4 with right hamstring tightness) "felt good" after going through "close to normal" baserunnning drills in Port Charlotte and said the next step could be getting at-bats, though not necessarily playing the field, in a minor-league game as a way of "easing my way back.'' He hopes to be ready for Opening Day.