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2016 - 2017 MLB Off-Season  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Mon Mar 6th, 2017 05:34 am
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lobo316
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It appears more teams than just the Tampa Bay Rays are showing interest in free agent Brett Lawrie, and one of those suitors may be seeking a reunion with the fiery infielder.

On Sunday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported the Rays were intrigued by Lawrie's right-handed bat and were going to "look into" possibly signing him, but sources of Jim Bowden of ESPN recently added the New York Mets, Kansas City Royals, and Toronto Blue Jays in the mix for the 27-year-old's services.

The connection to the Blue Jays is an interesting one, as Lawrie - a Canadian born in Langley, British Columbia - spent four seasons in Toronto from 2011-14, which included an impressive debut season with the club where he slashed .293/.373/.580 with nine home runs and 25 RBIs in 171 plate appearances.

Lawrie was never able to replicate the same kind of success again though, and was released by the Chicago White Sox on Friday, his third club in three seasons.

He hadn't made an at-bat for the White Sox this spring before his release due to recurring leg soreness.

Over the course of his six-year career, the former first-round draft choice owns a .261/.315/.419 hitting line with 71 home runs and 253 RBIs, but he only appeared in 94 games with Chicago last season amid a slew of injuries.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 6th, 2017 05:35 am
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lobo316
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TEMPE, Ariz. - Tommy John surgery might not need to be the answer for pitchers who blow out their elbows.

That's what Garrett Richards is hoping.

The righty who might be the Los Angeles Angels' top starter made his first start this spring on Sunday, earning high-fives from his teammates after sailing through a scoreless first inning against Cincinnati. The Reds touched him up for four singles and three runs in the second.

''I felt totally fine,'' Richards said.

Richards may be the most prominent pitcher to opt against Tommy John surgery, where a tendon from another part of the body is transplanted to reconstruct the pitcher's elbow. Pitchers usually miss 12 to 18 months.

Instead, Richards used a combination of stem-cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma injections after he suffered a partial ligament tear in his elbow last May.

Because he figured he would miss the rest of 2016 and all the 2017 season, he had time to explore other options. So, stem cells from the marrow in Richards' pelvic bone were injected into his elbow.

After 10 days of rest, Richards said his elbow felt ''100 percent normal.'' He didn't try a comeback late last season, though, because the Angels were going through a down season.

As far as he's concerned, the mental hurdles were cleared last fall when he pitched for the Angels' instructional league team.

''The ball was coming out of my hand the best it's ever come out of my hand,'' he said.

''I went down an unorthodox avenue. I'm still kind of figuring it out. But everything feels normal. I've already been checked out by the doctor. It's perfectly fine. I'm just excited to be back out there,'' he said.

Richards said he hopes his story can give other pitchers with elbow damage ''another avenue to go down. Any time you can save yourself from getting cut on, I feel that's huge,'' he said.

The type of injury and the timing during a season are major factors, he said. But in any case, ''It worked for me.''

Other paths to Tommy John could become more commonplace, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

''There's no doubt the research is going in that direction, to where there are some alternatives,'' he said.

''There's been a huge advance in the last five years . (with) very encouraging'' results, Scioscia said. ''Although the player most likely will miss time, hopefully it's not going to be as devastating as having to have the transplant.''

Richards has had a normal spring with no limitations, he said. ''He's been full go.''

But this alternative to Tommy John surgery doesn't work for everyone.

Standing a few feet from Richards' locker Sunday morning was Andrew Heaney, an Angels' starting pitcher who also tried the stem-cell therapy.

''It just didn't work,'' Heaney said. ''Nothing happened.''

Tests, including MRIs and ultrasounds, showed no visible differences after the treatment, he said.

Heaney underwent Tommy John surgery and is likely to return in 2018.

''Medicine is always moving forward,'' Heaney said. ''It would be great, obviously, any time you can get guys back faster and not have to throw away a season or season-and-a-half. It would be huge.''

Then there's Tyler Skaggs, whose locker stands between Richards' and Heaney's.

''It would be great'' if stem-cell therapy could replace Tommy John surgery, Skaggs said. ''Everybody's elbow is different, though.''

Skaggs underwent the Tommy John elbow reconstruction in 2014. He returned in 2016, going 3-4 with a 4.17 ERA in 10 starts.

Skaggs said he is healthy and ready for the upcoming season.

''I'm excited. It's going to be a good year,'' he said.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 6th, 2017 05:37 am
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lobo316
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The Chicago Cubs and shortstop Addison Russell have apparently agreed to terms on a one-year, $644,000 deal for 2017, reports Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.

Russell was an All-Star for the first time last season, hitting .238/.321/.417, with 21 home runs, and a National League-leading 95 RBIs among shortstops, while playing in 151 games for the World Series champion Cubs.

Since being acquired in a trade from the Oakland Athletics in 2014, Russell has been incredibly durable for the Cubs, appearing in 293 games, securing a .240/.314/.404 slash line with 34 home runs and 149 RBIs.

Russell, who is isn't eligible for arbitration for the first time until 2018, made $527,000 last season.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 7th, 2017 01:56 am
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lobo316
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When Dexter Fowler agreed to a five-year, $82.5-million contract this past December, he signed one of the richest contracts of the offseason.

The 30-year-old, who was being reportedly courted by the Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals, and Los Angeles Angels, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, did have his doubts about signing in St. Louis because of racial turmoil, but legendary Cardinals player Ozzie Smith convinced him it was the right choice.

"I just wanted some background information before I went anywhere,’’ Fowler said, according to Nightengale, "and Ozzie was real with me. I asked. He answered. And I definitely appreciated that."

Fowler, one of a shrinking list of African-American players in Major League Baseball, was concerned by the unrest created by the killing of African-American teenager Michael Brown - in St. Louis suburb Ferguson - by white police officer Darren Wilson in August of 2014, but Smith insured him things weren't as bad as they may have seemed.

"I explained to him that I don’t think there’s any finer baseball town than in St. Louis," Smith said. "It’s going to be a very special opportunity. You play the game the right way, play it hard, keep your nose clean, the fans will love you.

"His concern with Ferguson was very real," Smith added. "I told him that Ferguson was a microcosm of what was going on around the country. It didn’t just happen overnight. It had been building. St. Louis was just the place that jumped out. Those are the problems that all big cities have, and as a city, we were dealing with it, just like everyone else."

Fowler, who won a World Series title with the Chicago Cubs last season, was also recently in the news for expressing his feelings about President Donald Trump's travel ban, which affected travel plans he had with his Iranian wife to visit her family.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 7th, 2017 01:57 am
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The New York Yankees' future is bright with the likes of Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Greg Bird among the list of players being viewed as franchise cornerstones for the rebuilding club, but one name who may not be part of plans moving forward is Rob Refsnyder.

The Yankees have told opponents they will listen to trade offers for the versatile utility player, according to a source of the New York Post's George A. King III.

Refsnyder, 26, currently appears blocked at every position he's capable of manning by players such as Bird, Judge, Chris Carter, Starlin Castro, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Brett Gardner, which could make him expendable if the Yankees find a viable suitor.

He's started games at first base (21), second base (17), right field (14), and left field (four) over the past two years with New York. Despite Refsnyder's ability to play all over the field, King III notes that scouts are more impressed by his bat than his glove.

Since arriving on the big-league scene in 2015, Refsnyder owns a .262/.332/.354 slash line with two home runs and 17 RBIs during 222 plate appearances.

He also owns a career .293/.379/.429 mark in the minor leagues, including a .316/.365/.402 campaign with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season, where he recorded 66 hits in 54 games.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 7th, 2017 01:58 am
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The New York Yankees' future is bright with the likes of Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Greg Bird among the list of players being viewed as franchise cornerstones for the rebuilding club, but one name who may not be part of plans moving forward is Rob Refsnyder.

The Yankees have told opponents they will listen to trade offers for the versatile utility player, according to a source of the New York Post's George A. King III.

Refsnyder, 26, currently appears blocked at every position he's capable of manning by players such as Bird, Judge, Chris Carter, Starlin Castro, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Brett Gardner, which could make him expendable if the Yankees find a viable suitor.

He's started games at first base (21), second base (17), right field (14), and left field (four) over the past two years with New York. Despite Refsnyder's ability to play all over the field, King III notes that scouts are more impressed by his bat than his glove.

Since arriving on the big-league scene in 2015, Refsnyder owns a .262/.332/.354 slash line with two home runs and 17 RBIs during 222 plate appearances.

He also owns a career .293/.379/.429 mark in the minor leagues, including a .316/.365/.402 campaign with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season, where he recorded 66 hits in 54 games.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 7th, 2017 02:00 am
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lobo316
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Tim Tebow's first taste of major league pitching will be against the reigning American League Cy Young winner.

The former Heisman Trophy winner will be in the New York Mets lineup as the club's designated hitter on Wednesday against Rick Porcello and the Boston Red Sox.

Tebow arrived in Mets camp last week and will get some reps in the big league club as 14 players have departed for the World Baseball Classic.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 7th, 2017 02:01 am
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lobo316
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Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez wants Cooperstown to move on.

The former backstop was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot in January, though other names, such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, continued to see their vote totals stagnate thanks to their links to performance-enhancing drugs during their playing careers.

But Rodriguez feels it's time to ease up on the stigma of players from the time and open the Hall of Fame door to those who deserve it.

"I think these are things baseball needs to put in the past," Rodriguez told Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. "It's time to think about the game of baseball. There are others who should be in the Hall of Fame, as well.

"They had great careers. Why not?"

Rodriguez himself is no stranger to PED accusations.

In 2005, former big-league slugger Jose Canseco wrote in his book "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big," that he had personally injected Rodriguez with steroids while they were teammates on the Texas Rangers.

Rodriguez, who just edged into the Hall in January with 76 percent of votes - entrants need 75 to assure election - has consistently denied Canseco's claims, however.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 7th, 2017 06:52 pm
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Roy Halladay didn't pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies for very long, but he left a lasting impression.

He'll join the Phillies as a guest instructor Tuesday, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports. He served in the same role in 2014.

Philadelphia may need some help with its young pitching staff, as the team's 4.63 ERA ranked 26th in MLB last season. While Halladay's exact role is yet unknown, he brings 16 years of major-league experience split between the Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays.

Halladay's first two seasons with Philadelphia were especially impressive. He went 40-16 with a 2.40 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and a whopping 17 complete games. He experienced a precipitous decline in his final two seasons due to injury, but over his incredible 10-year stretch from 2002-11, he was a model of consistency.

Halladay's previously given copies of the book "The Mental ABC's of Pitching" by sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman to young teammates. This could indicate he'll focus on the mental skills of pitching, Zolecki notes, though he wouldn't be limited to that aspect.

The Phillies have three starters in the rotation who will be 27 or younger on Opening Day. Chief among them is right-hander Aaron Nola, who showed flashes of brilliance as a sophomore in 2016. He went 6-9 with a 4.78 ERA while striking out 121 batters in 111 innings. If Nola can harness some of Halladay's instruction, he could take big strides.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 7th, 2017 06:53 pm
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Jose Bautista's decision to return to the Toronto Blue Jays made sense for both sides and kept a fan base happy, but it seems the 36-year-old turned down a ton of guaranteed money to make the reunion a reality.

Although Bautista's market was slow to develop this offseason, he was reportedly offered a contract worth "well over" $50 million in mid-January, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

He was also presented with a three-year deal, two sources told Passan.

Bautista said that waiting to receive interest took a toll.

"Of course (the market) bothered me," he said. "I’m human. And anybody that knows what they can bring to the table will be frustrated. And I’m sure I was not the only one."

Around the same time he was reportedly presented with the aforementioned offers, the Blue Jays circled back to Bautista. He ultimately signed a one-year, $18-million deal to stay with the team.

The veteran enters 2017 looking to rebound after a down season in which he combined to hit .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 66 RBIs. The storied slugger is second on the Blue Jays' all-time home runs list (265), third in slugging percentage (.528), and fifth in RBIs (701).

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 Posted: Wed Mar 8th, 2017 02:20 am
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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Max Scherzer has come to grips with a finger injury - by coming up with a new, unusual grip for his fastball.

The Washington Nationals ace won the NL Cy Young Award last season despite a stress fracture on his right ring finger in the second half. The problem didn't totally heal during the winter, so Scherzer is trying something different this spring.

"It is strange that I am throwing with three fingers," Scherzer said.

Sure is.

His normal fastball grip - the one used by nearly every pitcher in the pros - employs two fingers on top of the ball with the ring finger bent along the side, providing stability in the hand.

That formation aggravates Scherzer's injury by pressing the ball onto the knuckle. Earlier this spring, he straightened the ring finger, placing it on top of the ball along with his middle and index index finger, a grip that alleviates the pressure and pain.

"What else am I going to do?" Scherzer said. "I'm willing to do it. I want to do it. It's just part of what I've got to go out there and do - to pitch right now."

Scherzer figures that altering his grip affords the knuckle some ability to heal while also allowing him to continue to build up arm strength. It's only the fastball grip that bothers the knuckle.

"If they didn't let me do this then I'd be sitting here trying to test the two-finger grip left and right, and probably be hurting it even more," Scherzer said. "If you let me throw it three fingers, I'm actually healing."

On Tuesday, Scherzer faced live hitters for the first time this spring, throwing a live batting practice session to minor league hitters on one of the complex's back fields prior to the Nationals' game against Boston.

With manager Dusty Baker and general manager Mike Rizzo looking on, Scherzer worked from both the windup and the stretch, simulating two innings of action.

"It felt good to actually get out there and face hitters, have them swing at stuff, going through my routine, warming up in between innings," Scherzer said. ''That's all fun."

Scherzer threw 44 pitches during the outing, the majority of which were fastballs.

The Nationals didn't have a radar gun present, but Scherzer said he didn't sense a drop in velocity with the three-fingered grip. He said it seemed to him the ball had the same spin as it normally did with a two-finger grip.

"It looked good to me," new Nationals catcher Matt Wieters said. "It came out of his hand well and had good carry."

Scherzer doesn't know the timeline for his next action and wouldn't commit to the next step, which could be a simulated game or even Grapefruit League action.

"We don't have a target day because we don't know how he's going to come out of this," Baker said. "We'll see how he comes out of this."

The 32-year-old Scherzer went 20-7 last season with a 2.96 ERA and a major league-leading 284 strikeouts. He also won the 2013 AL Cy Young with Detroit.

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 Posted: Wed Mar 8th, 2017 02:21 am
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NEW YORK - After spending two postseasons as a guest studio analyst for Fox, Alex Rodriguez is expanding his role for the network.

A-Rod will be a game analyst and feature reporter for the network and FS1 and will continue to work in the studio, the network said Tuesday in announcing a multi-year deal.

A three-time AL MVP who admitted using performance-enhancing drugs during his playing career, Rodriguez was released by the New York Yankees last summer with more than a year remaining in his $325-million, 10-year contract. Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season for violations of baseball's drug agreement and labor contract.

Rodriguez worked in the studio for the 2015 World Series and 2016 postseason. The 41-year-old is fourth on the career home run list with 696 and currently is a Yankees special adviser and instructor.

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 Posted: Wed Mar 8th, 2017 04:01 am
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The Toronto Blue Jays have gotten used to life without Devon Travis in the past, and it appears they might have to do so again.

Manager John Gibbons isn't very optimistic about the second baseman's chances of being ready for Opening Day and said Tuesday there's still no timetable for Travis' return.

"To be honest I don't know when he's going to be back and ready to go," Gibbons said, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith. "It's one of those things where if it costs him a couple of weeks, or whatever it might be, at the beginning of the season, so be it. As long as we get him back and he can still get a full year in."

The 26-year-old has been recovering from a bone bruise in his knee, which he suffered in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Texas Rangers. Travis also underwent minor surgery to repair cartilage in the same knee, but his bone has yet to fully heal.

Gibbons said last week that Travis was making progress.

If Travis isn't healthy in time for Opening Day, the team would lean on infielder Darwin Barney, and potentially Ryan Goins as well. Travis has experienced a bevy of injury issues early in his career, limiting him to an average of 82 games per season since his major-league debut in 2015.

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 Posted: Wed Mar 8th, 2017 06:18 pm
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lobo316 wrote: NEW YORK - After spending two postseasons as a guest studio analyst for Fox, Alex Rodriguez is expanding his role for the network.

A-Rod will be a game analyst and feature reporter for the network and FS1 and will continue to work in the studio, the network said Tuesday in announcing a multi-year deal.

A three-time AL MVP who admitted using performance-enhancing drugs during his playing career, Rodriguez was released by the New York Yankees last summer with more than a year remaining in his $325-million, 10-year contract. Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season for violations of baseball's drug agreement and labor contract.

Rodriguez worked in the studio for the 2015 World Series and 2016 postseason. The 41-year-old is fourth on the career home run list with 696 and currently is a Yankees special adviser and instructor.

The saddest thing about everything that A-Rod did is that he really does love the game and just wants to be around it.  He'd basically do this for free, which is more or less what he's doing since he's got more money than God and anything Fox is paying him is barely pocket change.  Anyone else at his level would be sitting by the pool all day and all A-Rod wants to do is talk baseball.



____________________
This thread was great before AA ruined it.
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 Posted: Wed Mar 8th, 2017 09:31 pm
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In December, Major League Baseball created an anti-hazing and anti-bullying policy that prohibited teams from, "dressing up as women or wearing costumes that may be offensive to individuals based on their race, sex, nationality, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other characteristic."

The rule apparently isn't being well-received among the Chicago Cubs clubhouse, with several players expressing their opinions on the new law.

"I think it’s B.S.," catcher Miguel Montero said, according to ESPN's Jesse Rogers. "It’s about making guys uncomfortable. I always say 'Get uncomfortable to get comfortable.' That’s what we try to do."

Hazing was typically directed to and involved rookies who were initiated by their teammates in sometimes discriminatory fashion, with several club's forcing their young players to wear cheerleader costumes or other provocative apparel.

"No one is trying to offend any person or people that identify themselves as something else," right-hander Jake Arrieta said. "It’s about making the younger teammates uncomfortable and seeing how they deal with the situation. It’s a team-building thing.

"Maybe it needs to remain out of the public eye, but we aren’t trying to offend anyone. I know how serious it can be with people dealing with an uncomfortable time with the way they identify themselves individually. It’s a serious situation. Kids hide who they are because they feel like they will be ridiculed, and that’s wrong."

Many Cubs players including Montero and Arrieta say they will do their best to work around the rule by making rookies wear other types of costumes, including but not limited to wrestling tights and Speedos.

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