By Scott Barancik, editor

As Major League teams pare down their Spring Training rosters in preparation for the regular season, several Jewish players are headed to the minors for re-tooling.

Among the latest to be cut: Oakland A’s first baseman Nate Freiman, and Houston Astros reliever Josh Zeid, both of whom played for Team Israel in the 2012 World Baseball Classic qualifiers.

Freiman, 27, made his MLB debut last year and spent the entire season in Oakland, hitting .274 with 4 HRs and 24 RBIs in 80 games. This Spring, the 6-foot-8-inch slugger has hit just .238, but his 11 RBIs ranked just one RBI behind the team’s leaders. The A’s want Freiman to work on his hitting against right-handers; while platooned at 1B last year, he hit .304 with an .805 OPS against southpaws, but hit just .167 with a .406 OPS against righties.

“I’m sure we will see the 6-foot-8 first baseman again this season,” wrote San Francisco Chronicle reporter Susan Slusser. “The A’s know what he can do, and he’s popular with his teammates and the coaching staff, a hard worker who is quirky and kind.”

Like Freiman, the 27-year-old Zeid made his MLB debut last year. The 6-foot-4-inch righty went 0-and-1 with one save and a 3.90 ERA in 25 relief appearances, and he struck out 24 batters in 27.2 innings pitched. This Spring, he went 0-and-0 with one save and a 4.15 ERA, and struck out 12 batters over just 8.2 innings. News of Zeid’s likely temporary demotion came on his 27th birthday, unfortunately (3/24/2014).

Dodgers top prospect Joc Pederson, who tore up Double-A hitting last season, also was sent down to the minors. An outfielder with equal parts power and speed, the 21-year-old Pederson is expected to make his Major League debut sometime this season despite a stocked A’s outfield that includes Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier.

Jewish Baseball News correspondent Zev Ben Avigdor contributed to this report.

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