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MLB off season thread  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Thu Feb 13th, 2014 05:42 am
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lobo316



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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) New York Yankees newcomer Masahiro Tanaka has finished up his first throwing session with the team.

Tanaka worked out Wednesday at the minor league part of the Yankees' spring training complex. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild said Tanaka ''looked good'' during a long toss session.

Tanaka recently signed a $155 million, seven-year contract and was introduced Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. He was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year while leading the Rakuten Golden Eagles to the Japan Series title.

It should be determined in the next couple days when the 25-year-old right-hander will throw off a mound.

Yankees pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report for spring training Friday.

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 Posted: Thu Feb 13th, 2014 07:30 pm
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lobo316 wrote: TAMPA, Fla. (AP) New York Yankees newcomer Masahiro Tanaka has finished up his first throwing session with the team.

Tanaka worked out Wednesday at the minor league part of the Yankees' spring training complex. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild said Tanaka ''looked good'' during a long toss session.

Tanaka recently signed a $155 million, seven-year contract and was introduced Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. He was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year while leading the Rakuten Golden Eagles to the Japan Series title.

It should be determined in the next couple days when the 25-year-old right-hander will throw off a mound.

Yankees pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report for spring training Friday.

Well he didn't tear a rotator cuff on his first throw, so this season is already shaping up to be better than last.



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 Posted: Thu Feb 13th, 2014 09:18 pm
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) From Baltimore to the Bay Area, closer Jim Johnson has taken notice of the care with which Oakland's Bob Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young manage their bullpen.

That means a lot for last season's AL saves leader as he joins a new team for the first time in an already impressive eight-year major league career. In fact, Johnson had interest in the Athletics if he were to be traded.

In December, the two-time reigning AL West champions pulled it off: acquiring Johnson to fill a big void in the ninth inning with All-Star Grant Balfour lost in free agency.

General manager Billy Beane and Melvin would have been happy to go forward with either Ryan Cook or Sean Doolittle. With Johnson in the mix, there are more options.

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 Posted: Thu Feb 13th, 2014 09:21 pm
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The Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a contract with Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon, a baseball source confirmed to ESPN's Jim Bowden.

Yoon's deal is for three years and $5.725 million, the source said. His contract also contains performance bonuses based on games started.

Yoon had tweeted a picture of himself in an Orioles cap earlier this week, prompting speculation that he would join Baltimore.


짜잔~~^^ pic.twitter.com/0Jud1odB76

- Yoon_sm-(윤석민) (@bbergong) February 12, 2014
The 27-year-old Yoon was considered the second-best starter in the Korean Baseball Organization last season (behind Hyun-jin Ryu) and had a shoulder injury that slowed his season.

He had a 4.19 ERA in 11 starts and a 3.60 ERA in 19 appearances as the closer for the Kia Tigers. Before that, Yoon had a 2.45 ERA in 172 1/3 innings as a starter and a 3.12 ERA in 153 innings in 2012, posting solid strikeout-to-walk ratios both seasons.

Various reports have him with a fastball in the low 90s and a solid changeup. Yoon pitched in the 2008 Olympics and in the 2009 and 2013 World Baseball Classics.

CBSSports.com had earlier reported Yoon's agreement with the Orioles.

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 Posted: Thu Feb 13th, 2014 09:23 pm
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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- General manager Sandy Alderson said it is not the goal of the New York Mets to have ace Matt Harvey appear in the majors in 2014.

Still, with Harvey having expressed hope of pitching this upcoming season, Alderson did not fully quash the idea.

Harvey underwent Tommy John surgery on Oct. 22. There typically is a 12-month rehab time, although pitchers occasionally have been known to come back more quickly.

"Each of these injuries is different," Alderson said Thursday, as a large contingent of players participated in a voluntary workout at the team's Florida complex. "Each player is different. The return time can be very different. But that's not our goal."

Harvey has expressed hope of throwing a baseball in nine days, on the four-month anniversary of the procedure. Alderson said there was no guarantee that would occur. "There's no update on that," the GM said.

Alderson then attempted to discourage Harvey being a camp topic at all, considering he is unlikely to contribute at any point this season. Harvey is not eligible for free agency until after the 2018 season, so the Mets have to think about his value over the ensuing four seasons and potentially beyond rather than just this year.

"We're all interested in Matt's progress, obviously. But we don't intend it to be a story line every time he decides to throw 40 pitches," Alderson said. "And I know he's anxious to get back and wants to get back ready to go in September, and that's fine.

"But we have an identity of interest with him, and that is his long-term value to himself as a player and to us as a player. We're going to focus on his rehab with that in mind. At the same time, we don't want it to be an overriding story line for this year. Obviously there is interest in it, but you won't find me promoting it.

"The thing that maybe I should try to make clear at the very outset of this camp is that the story for 2014 is not Matt Harvey," Alderson said. "The story for 2014 will be the other 25 players that we have active."

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 Posted: Thu Feb 13th, 2014 09:24 pm
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Two-time reigning American League MVP Miguel Cabrera says he feels much stronger after offseason surgery to repair core muscles damaged by a groin tear.

The Detroit Tigers slugger said Wednesday that he has changed his routine for the 2014 season, adding more exercises to strengthen his core.

"I've gotten a lot stronger," he told reporters, according to MLB.com. "I've tried to make sure everything's going to be good when I start baseball. That's what I do differently."

He underwent surgery in mid-November.

"Oh my god, I feel free, like I can do anything right now," Cabrera said, according to MLB.com. "I don't worry about anything. I don't worry if it's going to hurt, if it's going to feel good if I do this. I feel free, ready to go."

Cabrera, an eight-time All-Star, also missed several games during the second half of this past season because of a bad back, a sore left hip flexor, a strained lower abdomen and shin trouble.

Despite the injuries, Cabrera led the majors in hitting at .348 and was second to Baltimore's Chris Davis with 44 home runs and 137 RBIs.

Cabrera, who will move back to first base in 2014 after two seasons at third, will attempt to become the first player to win three consecutive AL MVP awards. He already is the first right-handed hitter to win three straight batting titles in either league since Rogers Hornsby won titles from 1920 to 1925.

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 Posted: Fri Feb 14th, 2014 03:42 am
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MESA, Ariz. (AP) No matter what the record says, Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein insists he sees progress as he begins his third season in charge.

It hasn't shown at the major league level.

''The people that we have in place in this organization - the coaches, scouts - I believe are impact, and I believe in the processes that we have in place,'' Epstein said Thursday. ''It takes time to turn our organization around. It takes time to build impact talent and to build requisite depth. But it's happening. People in those meetings, the people in this organization, really believe that we're on the verge of something special. And we understand that we're perceived otherwise, and that's our fault because we've been a last-place club the last couple years. We're not protesting. We need to earn our way into a position where we're championship contenders on an annual basis, and we feel like that is certainly moving in the right direction.''

It hasn't been an easy process, and while success might be on the horizon, it doesn't appear to be at hand.

Pitchers and catchers reported on Thursday, and for the Cubs, it doesn't look like much will be different this season. They were relatively quiet in the offseason, although they did hire manager Rick Renteria to replace the fired Dale Sveum and made a run at star Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, but mostly it looks like they are in for more rough times at the major league level as they wait for their top prospects to develop in the minors.

Their most recent winning season was when they went 83-78 under Lou Piniella in 2009. With four straight sub-.500 seasons, they've matched their longest streak since 1984 to 1988. And another losing season would put them on their longest run since they finished below .500 six years in a row from 1978 to 1983.

For now, the Cubs continue to sell hope, a promise that better days are coming. And things can't get much worse, record-wise.

They've dropped 91 or more games each of the past three years and are coming off a two-year run under Sveum that produced a 127-197 record. They're hoping Renteria will provide the right atmosphere for young major league players such as shortstop Starlin Castro and first baseman Anthony Rizzo as well as prospects such as Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora and Kris Bryant.

They believe they have three solid starters at the top of the rotation in Travis Wood, Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson, although Jackson struggled last season and Samardzija is a trade candidate after he was unable to reach a long-term agreement and took a one-year deal.

Jake Arrieta, a candidate to start, might not be ready for the beginning of the season because of tightness in his right shoulder. General manager Jed Hoyer revealed Thursday that Arrieta, acquired from Baltimore last July, experienced some tightness this winter and is being brought along slowly.

Hoyer announced Arrieta's injury after confirming the Cubs agreed to one-year contracts with starting pitchers Jason Hammel and James McDonald.

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 Posted: Fri Feb 14th, 2014 03:44 am
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PEORIA, Ariz. -- Seattle Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez has told the team that he will not play this season because of a recurring illness.

The Mariners said Thursday that the 30-year-old Gutierrez won't be reporting to spring training after a relapse of the gastrointestinal problem that slowed him last season. Position players are due to report next Monday.

Gutierrez told the team that he didn't think it was fair to come to spring training if he couldn't fully compete for a spot on the major league club. He signed a one-year contract for $1 million plus incentives last December and figured to get a good shot at winning the No. 1 center fielder job in camp.

The Mariners put the 2010 Gold Glove winner on the restricted list and took him off the 40-man roster.

Gutierrez hit .248 with 10 home runs and 24 RBIs in 145 at-bats last year. He played in only 41 games and twice went on the disabled list because of a strained right hamstring.

Gutierrez has had six stints on the DL over three seasons with Seattle.

"His health was not cooperating with him," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "It's very disappointing."

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 Posted: Fri Feb 14th, 2014 03:45 am
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JUPITER, Fla. -- St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta checked into spring training camp four days ahead of the mandatory reporting date, eager to greet his new teammates Thursday and move past last year's problems.

The two-time All-Star was suspended for 50 games last season while with Detroit because of his involvement with the Biogenesis drug scandal.

Peralta became a free agent after the season and signed a four-year contract with the Cardinals worth $53 million, a deal that didn't sit well with many around baseball.

While St. Louis fans seemed to welcome Peralta, he expects that reception to change once the Cardinals hit the road.

"I know a lot of fans, they are going to talk," Peralta said. "They are going to say a lot of things. It's baseball. You need to forget about it and try to play baseball."

The 31-year-old hadn't met most of the Cardinals players or coaches before his arrival in camp, though he did receive offseason texts from the likes of left fielder Matt Holliday and manager Mike Matheny.

"Getting here early is important," Peralta said. "I want to know everybody here in the clubhouse before everything starts, meet every coach and every training guy."

Matheny and Peralta spoke in person for the first time Thursday.

"He's here early, obviously, and it's exciting to see, just like everybody else," Matheny said. "His excuse isn't [escaping the] snow, either. I think he just wanted to be here and get with his team. We are anxious to let him feel his way through this and start to build those relationships."

Anemic offensive production from shortstops Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso in 2013, and the lack of a big league-ready prospect in the farm system, prompted the Cardinals to sign Peralta.

Both Kozma and Descalso will be back in Cardinals camp. Last October, they went a combined 1-for-20 while splitting the shortstop job in the World Series loss to Boston.

Peralta hit .303 with 11 homers and 55 RBIs in 107 regular-season games last season. He has a career .268 average with 156 home runs.

If all goes as expected this spring, Peralta will be the Cardinals' eighth Opening Day shortstop in eight years, joining a largely forgettable list that includes Ryan Theriot and Tyler Greene.

"From a defensive standpoint we look at [Peralta] as a consistent, every-day player," general manager John Mozeliak said. "From an offensive standpoint, I think he's one of the more elite shortstops in the game."

Mozeliak isn't concerned that performance-enhancing drugs artificially inflated Peralta's production. Peralta returned to the Tigers for the playoffs following his suspension and hit .333 with five extra-base hits and six RBIs in two postseason series.

The 2012 season, in which Peralta hit .239 with 13 home runs, coincided with his link to Biogenesis.

"When you look at his offensive performance, that was one of the down years he had," Mozeliak said.

Peralta made his major league debut with Cleveland in 2003. The Indians traded him to Detroit during the 2010 season, where he spent the previous three full seasons.

Thursday marked the first official workout for Cardinals pitchers and catchers. Position players don't have to take the field until Tuesday, but Peralta joined a handful of infielders who took groundballs on a back field at Roger Dean Stadium.

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 Posted: Fri Feb 14th, 2014 03:46 am
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VIERA, Fla. -- The Washington Nationals filled the last clear-cut need on their roster on the opening day of spring training, acquiring catcher Jose Lobaton and two prospects from the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday for pitcher Nathan Karns.

Lobaton gives the Nationals insurance behind fellow Venezuelan Wilson Ramos, who has never played in more than 108 games in a season because of various injuries.

"He's a capable backup," general manager Mike Rizzo said, "in case something does happen with Wilson."

Lobaton, 29, started 76 games for the Rays last season and batted .249 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs. He was expendable because the Rays re-signed catcher Jose Molina and traded for Ryan Hanigan.

Rizzo said Lobaton has above average metrics on defense. A notable exception is a 16 percent success rate throwing out would-be base-stealers.

"We feel that he throws well enough that he should be better than 16 percent," Rizzo said.

It speaks volumes about the Nationals' confidence in their talent-laden roster that a move for a backup can fill the last significant hole on the day that pitchers and catchers reported. Barring injury, Rizzo won't be shopping during spring training.

"There's not an obvious spot that we need to address," Rizzo said. "But, as we say, if an opportunity arises, we'll be aggressive and open-minded about it."

The Nationals are giving up a top prospect in the 26-year-old right-hander Karns, who three made starts in his first taste of the major leagues last season, but they're adding a pair of 22-year-olds from the Rays' pool of talent: outfielder Drew Vettleson and left-handed pitcher Felipe Rivero.

Karns would have been in a crowded race for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. The trade for a younger pitcher alleviates part of that logjam and helps the Nationals stagger their pitching prospects.

To make room for the new players on the 40-man roster, Washington placed right-handed pitcher Erik Davis on the 60-day disabled list with a sprained right elbow.

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 Posted: Fri Feb 14th, 2014 03:48 am
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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The Los Angeles Dodgers return a lineup virtually intact from their NL West championship run.

The only real uncertainty is at second base, where Mark Ellis left via free agency to the St. Louis Cardinals.

While the Dodgers would love for Cuban defector Alex Guerrero to win the job, manager Don Mattingly knows it might be a shared assignment when the team opens its season with a pair of games against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Sydney on March 22-23.

''It's hard for us to say we can make a decision on that,'' Mattingly said. ''We can take a look at a combination of guys, what guys look like in camp, could it be a platoon-type situation? Is one of those guys a utility guy that can play a lot of second? I just think there's too many questions for us to be able to say, `I want an everyday guy' and try to force that. If it's a square peg I don't want to force it into the round hole. So I'm going to try to see what we've got first.''

There's a long list of candidates for the job, among them ex-shortstop Dee Gordon, Justin Turner, Justin Fellers, Miguel Rojas and Chone Figgins.

''Competitive I guess is what it is,'' Mattingly said. ''I think we've got a number of guys we're going to be looking at.''

Although many had been there for a couple of days, position players officially reported to the Dodgers' spring training facility on Thursday, with the first full-squad workout set for Friday.

Gordon, son of ex-major league pitcher Tom ''Flash'' Gordon, was among the lightest players in the majors at just under 150 pounds last year. He's up to a healthy 179 this year. Don't expect that to diminish his speed. He's one of the fastest players in the game.

Two years ago, he came to spring training anointed the starting shortstop and leadoff hitter. But he struggled at the plate, then went down with a thumb injury. That led the team to acquire Hanley Ramirez, and it's been an uphill climb for Gordon since. He played most of last season for Triple-A Albuquerque.

The second base opening is a new opportunity.

''I'm just going to go in, play hard, play my game and whatever happens happens,'' Gordon said. ''If I go out and do what I need to do, I won't have a regret about anything, good or bad.''

He said shifting to second shouldn't be a problem.

''I love second base. It's great,'' Gordon said. ''I mean, I love shortstop as well. I'm still working at shortstop, not saying I want to be the shortstop or anything. I'm just working there because it helps my feet, keeps my feet moving. It makes the transition to second base a little easier.''

The Dodgers obviously think the job should be Guerrero's eventually, signing him last October to a four-year, $28 million contract.

Guerrero, too, is a shortstop by experience.

''We haven't got to see him play at all,'' Mattingly said. ''I've seen video. One thing I do know is the guys that our scouts have told us can play, they can play. And they've told us that Alex can play.''

Turner, a utility infielder, is a non-roster invitee who hit .280 in 86 games for the New York Mets last season and signed a minor league deal with Los Angeles. Fellers hit .297 in 89 games for Albuquerque last year and .188 in 27 games for the Dodgers.

The slick-fielding Rojas hit .233 for Double-A Chattanooga in the Cincinnati organization in 2013. The 36-year-old Figgins, who had some good years with the Los Angeles Angels, also signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers.

Even if Guerrero gets the everyday job, those who didn't make it will vie for the job of backup for the infield positions.

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 Posted: Fri Feb 14th, 2014 03:49 am
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PITTSBURGH (AP) Taiwanese left-hander Yao-Hsun Yang and the Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to big league spring training camp.

The Pirates announced the move Thursday.

Yang made nine appearances while pitching in Japan's minor leagues last season. The 31-year-old Yang has a 5-5 record with 3.08 ERA in 38 appearances - 12 starts - in his career with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in the Japanese Central League during parts of six seasons (2006, 2008-2010 and 2012).

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 Posted: Fri Feb 14th, 2014 09:57 pm
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) When the Minnesota Twins start spring training next week, Joe Mauer will be in a different place.

He'll be with the team in Florida, but his mitt and mask won't be. Mauer has moved from catcher to first base to better protect his body from the rigors of crouching behind the plate. The concussion that cut short his 2013 season prompted his decision to make the mid-career switch.

He'll work with former Twins manager Tom Kelly, who serves as a special instructor during camp. Mauer is an elite athlete with 56 games of career experience, but first base will still take some getting used to.

The Twins hold their first pitchers and catchers workout on Monday. The first full-squad workout is six days later.

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 Posted: Fri Feb 14th, 2014 09:58 pm
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Dusty Baker says he wants to manage again.

"I feel like I could help somebody," Baker, who was fired in October by the Cincinnati Reds, told the San Jose Mercury News.

Baker, 64, led the Reds to their best stretch of success since the Big Red Machine. However, he never led them to a deep playoff run, and he paid the price after this past season.

Team officials suggested announcing the parting as a "retirement" or Baker "taking a year off," the Mercury News reported.

"Why? That's not what I wanted," Baker told the newspaper. "I'll know when I want to retire. ... I said, 'Let's call it what it is.'"

Baker also told the paper he contacted several teams with vacant manager positions this offseason -- the Washington Nationals, Seattle Mariners and Detroit Tigers -- but never heard back.

"What's it take to call back and say, 'No, thank you?"' Baker said.

The Nationals ended up hiring former All-Star Matt Williams, who has called Baker a mentor. Baker told the Mercury News that his reaching out to the Nationals was symbolic.

"I didn't want to do anything that would ice [Williams] out of the job," Baker said. "I told him, 'That's not why I put my name in the hat. I put my name in the hat to show people I wasn't through.'"

Baker also addressed his health. He suffered a mini-stroke in 2012 and was found to have an irregular heartbeat. He was recovering in a hospital in Chicago when the Reds wrapped up the National League Central title that season.

"I know I'm strong," he told the paper. "Nobody needs to tell you when you're strong."

As spring training opens and he finds himself without a team, Baker remains optimistic.

"Things have a way of always working out for me. God will guide you. I learned to trust and not to doubt or worry," he said.

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 Posted: Sat Feb 15th, 2014 01:05 am
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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia has reported to spring training at a slimmed-down 275 pounds, 40 below his high.

The 33-year-old left-hander was 14-13 last year and set career highs for ERA at 4.78 and home runs allowed with 28. He gave up 122 runs, the most in the major leagues.

Sabathia said Friday he decided to lose the weight after a cousin, Demetrius Davis, died of a heart attack at age 45 in December 2012. Sabathia dropped most of the pounds last year plus an additional 5 during the offseason.

Sabathia says ''I felt like `The Biggest Loser' last year,'' a reference to a reality television show. ''I lost a lot of weight, but I just wasn't physically ready to go out and play.''

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