MLB fans were in for a treat when spring training returned to television screens across the nation. UConn certainly wasn’t without its representation, as Toronto Blue Jays outfielder George Springer got his first looks of the season on Tuesday. The 32-year-old looked as good as ever with a 2-3 day that saw the outfielder grab two singles in a 9-2 win. For his first action of the season against a seasoned ballclub like New York, that’s absolutely encouraging to see for the UConn alum. Springer is looking to have a bit of a bounce back season after hitting .264 in his first season with the Blue Jays.
Springer wasn’t the only UConn player to kick off their season recently. Boston Red Sox fans were able to see their first look at Matt Barnes, who pitched an inning of relief with a lone strikeout on Monday. Barnes, who had a 3.79 ERA with a 6-5 record in Boston last year, is looking for a bit of redemption for his ballclub after Boston fell to the Houston Astros in the ALCS. With the new addition of Trevor Story to an already loaded team, the Red Sox will be a feared team in baseball and Barnes, who has been a key part of the team’s bullpen, will play a big part in getting his team toward its goal of a World Series ring in 2022.
Unlike Barnes and Springer, Ahmed has gotten two chances to get going before the MLB season begins, going 0-5 in two games. The 32-year-old is coming off a down year for the Arizona Diamondbacks, hitting .221 in 2021. While Ahmed wasn’t able to crush it at the plate, he’s always been known for his glove, especially with a 3.7 dWAR in 2018. He’ll be looking to reclaim some of that defensive pedigree in 2022 after grabbing a 1.0 dWAR in 2021.
The 2012 first round pick has continued to make a name for himself as a valuable option as a playoff contender with the Brooklyn Nets. Drummond got the start last Friday for Brooklyn against the Portland Trailblazers and had a quality performance, totaling 17 points and nine rebounds in a five point win for Brooklyn. He’s been consistently putting up double-digit scoring numbers as a primary option at center and fans can expect similar production until the potential debut of new Brooklyn addition Ben Simmons dips into Drummond’s touches. The veteran center will continue to be a big part of Brooklyn’s game plan as they look to stay in contention for a play-in tournament spot.
Gay has continued to be a solid bench piece for the Utah Jazz, who currently sit fourth in the Western Conference. Even at age 35, you can still find the former UConn alum cooking up NBA defenses. Gay’s best performance this week came on Sunday, where he put up 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 26 minutes for Utah. With Gay remaining a primary backup forward option for a strong Jazz lineup, fans can expect to see him get some minutes in the upcoming NBA playoffs.