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 Posted: Tue Apr 18th, 2017 09:33 pm
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lobo316



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Adrian Gonzalez dives headfirst into home, seems to beat the tag by Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, but is called out. Safe, shout fans at Dodger Stadium who see replays on the board.

Umpires go to their headsets for a video review, and nearly three minutes later, the signal comes: Out!

Want to hear exactly how disputed calls get decided, like that one in last year's NL Championship Series?

Soon, we might.

While nothing is set, Major League Baseball and umps are expected to discuss a plan - most prominently used in the NFL - for crew chiefs to wear a microphone and explain replay rulings.

Under one possible scenario, they would start at the All-Star Game on July 11 in Miami, tweak the process over the season's second half and then go forward with the experiment in the playoffs.

People familiar with the talks spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because an agreement has not yet been reached.

Last year, MLB asked for the plate ump to wear a mic at the All-Star Game, but there wasn't enough time to do it.

The umpires are in the middle of their five-year labor deal and any change would involve negotiations, plus a comfort level on both sides that the system would be efficient, accurate and easy.

So no way to say for sure if fans at Camden Yards, Coors Field and ballparks across the majors will become familiar with the voices of veteran crew chiefs - be it country singer Joe West, ordained minister Ted Barrett or Dale Scott, once a Top 40 AM radio disc jockey.

"It probably would be nice to get a little more explanation," Marlins reliever Brad Ziegler said. "They're supposed to say the call stands or the call's confirmed. `The call stands' means you can't tell. A lot of times we don't get that ... they just signal out or safe. That's all we get on the field.

"They may announce it on the PA, but it doesn't seem like that is consistent in all parks. And the acoustics in the stadium here - we have a hard time hearing what's on the PA in the bullpen," he said.

In the NFL, hearing refs announce "upon further review" has long been part of the lexicon. The lore includes what Ben Dreith said in a 1986 game, when Jets lineman Marty Lyons tangled with Buffalo quarterback Jim Kelly and was penalized for "giving him the business down there."

The NHL for some time has mic'ed up officials to explain coach's challenges, based on what the central replay booth tells them.

NBA crew chiefs put on headsets to watch reviews and talk with the replay center. Decisions are explained to the official scorer's table and the benches, and the public address announcers inform the crowd.

MLB has tried to speed up reviews this year, aiming for the umpires in the New York replay booth to relay the final calls to the field in under 2 minutes.

"It'll take more time," Boston pitcher David Price said. "It's not going to make them any shorter."

As for making the replay system more informative and entertaining, ''Yeah, until they have a problem with the umpire's mic,'' he said.

Marlins star Christian Yelich said a switch wouldn't affect him.

"The call's the call," he said. "Just because they tell you what they decided isn't going to change it."

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 Posted: Tue Apr 18th, 2017 09:34 pm
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The Pittsburgh Pirates will be without center fielder Starling Marte until after the All-Star break, as the 28-year-old has been suspended 80 games without pay after testing positive for Nandrolone, a performance-enhancing substance, the league announced Tuesday.

Marte, who in a statement attributed the positive test to "neglect and lack of knowledge," will not be eligible to play in the postseason should the Pirates qualify.

"Neglect and lack of knowledge have led me to this mistake with the high price to pay of being away from the field that I enjoy and love so much," Marte said in a statement, per FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. "With much embarrassment and helplessness, I ask for forgiveness for unintentionally disrespecting so many people who have trusted in my work and have supported me so much. I promise to learn the lesson that this ordeal has left me."

In a statement, Pirates president Frank Coonelly said the club fully supports Major League Baseball's joint drug agreement and expressed his disappointment "that Starling put himself, his teammates and the organization in this position."

"We will continue to fight for the division title with the men who are here and will look forward to getting Starling back after the All-Star break," he said.

Marte, a two-time Gold Glover and an All-Star for the first time in 2016, was off to a slow start this year, hitting just .241/.288/.370 (79 OPS+) with two home runs, two stolen bases, and a 28.8 percent strikeout rate through his first 13 games. Widely considered among the game's top outfielders, Marte - who compiled more WAR (16.7) over the previous four seasons than all but four outfielders - had replaced Andrew McCutchen in center field this year after spending the majority of his career in left.

With Marte out for the next three months, the Pirates may consider moving McCutchen, the five-time All-Star, back into center field, and will likely entertain recalling top prospect Austin Meadows from Triple-A Indianapolis to replace Marte on the active roster.

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 Posted: Tue Apr 18th, 2017 09:36 pm
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The Toronto Blue Jays are expecting to lose the services of J.A. Happ for at least one start, but the overall diagnosis of his left elbow injury suffered Sunday appears optimistic.

An MRI conducted Monday revealed inflammation but no structural damage, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, who adds that Happ is still expected to be placed on the 10-day disabled list.

The news comes one day after president Mark Shapiro acknowledged that the team was pleased with the initial tests, and that they did not believe Happ would miss significant time.

"We're still putting all the pieces together on Happ, but I can tell you we're incredibly optimistic," Shapiro said at a Pitch Talks event in Toronto.

Happ, who finished sixth in Cy Young voting last season, is 0-3 with a 4.50 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 16 innings.

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 Posted: Tue Apr 18th, 2017 09:37 pm
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Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Clay Buchholz underwent surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm, which comes with a recovery timeline between four and six months, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.

Buchholz was placed on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to April 15. Should his recovery last the expected length, it could effectively end his season and his brief tenure with the Phillies. He's slated to become a free agent following the season.

The 32-year-old, who spent his entire MLB career with the Boston Red Sox prior to 2017, has made only two starts for Philadelphia. He left his last start with tightness in his right forearm after allowing six runs on eight hits in 2 1/3 innings

Zach Eflin was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to make his first start of the season Tuesday night against the New York Mets. Eflin made his MLB debut in 2016, making 11 starts for the Phillies and going 3-5 with a 5.54 ERA. In 10 innings between Single-A and Triple-A this season, he's yet to allow an earned run.

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 Posted: Wed Apr 19th, 2017 01:04 pm
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If you were lucky enough to be a part of the Chicago Cubs organization in 2016, you're probably the proud owner of a very awesome and very expensive World Series ring.

But, don't even think about trying to make a buck or two by selling it.

The Cubs issued an internal memo to all players, coaches, and staff members who received rings asking them to sign away the right to sell their ring at a later date, according to Stefano Esposito and Mitchell Armentrout of the Chicago Sun-Times. The memo gives the Cubs the right to buy the ring back from anyone trying to sell it for $1.

"If the Cubs elect not to purchase the ring, then you may transfer it according to the terms you provided to the Cubs; however, each subsequent owner shall also be bound by these terms in the event of a subsequent proposed sale or other transfer," the memo reads, according to the Sun-Times.

Rings are allowed to be gifted or bequeathed to immediate family members without consulting the team.

Cubs players were reportedly upset by the memo and refused to sign it, though team spokesman Julian Green said, "uniformed players and coaches were never asked to sign the form and were not even aware a form existed until yesterday."

The Cubs' World Series rings, handed out in a ceremony last week, contain 108 diamonds to represent the championship that ended the franchise's 108-year title drought. A caricature of a goat - in honor of the now-dead "Curse of the Billy Goat" - graces the inside of the ring.

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 Posted: Wed Apr 19th, 2017 01:05 pm
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In a bit of a bind following the suspension of Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle announced that Andrew McCutchen will inherit center field duties, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY.

Marte was suspended Tuesday for violating the MLB's drug policy. Marte will begin serving his 80-game performance-enhancing drug suspension immediately.

McCutchen was the most likely candidate, especially with Gregory Polanco still dealing with a groin injury and making just one plate appearance - a pinch hit - since Friday.

McCutchen lost the starting center fielder job coming into the season after a horrendous 2016 campaign - at least defensively. By DRS, McCutchen cost the Pirates 28 runs in center field, while UZR was only slightly more kind, suggesting the 30-year-old star cost 18 runs of defense.

In a corresponding move to Marte's suspension, the Pirates called up Jose Osuna who will get his first taste of the big leagues. The 24-year-old is capable of playing first base and the outfield, and may shift to right field. Although, John Jaso, Adam Frazier, or Josh Harrison also seem to be candidates to get some starts in the corner outfield.

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 Posted: Wed Apr 19th, 2017 10:42 pm
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Eric Thames demolished pitching for three seasons in Korea, hitting 124 home runs in his time there. Now he's doing it for the Milwaukee Brewers.

The dingers brought his name back to the attention of Major League Baseball, and when Milwaukee made him an offer, beer was one of the things that sold him on the city.

"I came to Milwaukee before I signed, checked it out, and after an hour I knew it was where I wanted to be. I love the Midwest. I love the hospitality of people. And Milwaukee has great beer," Thames told USA Today's Bob Nightengale. "I love beer."

So far, Brewers fans are drunk on the returns. Entering Wednesday, Thames was slashing .426/.491/1.000 through 13 games with an MLB-leading seven home runs and 17 runs scored.

In parts of two MLB seasons in 2011 and 2012, Thames combined to hit 21 home runs with the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners.

Thames started playing in the Korean Baseball Organization in 2014, and became the first 40-40 player in league history in 2015.

"I thought the coolest thing in the world was getting more walks than strikeouts," Thames said. "But I tell you, getting on base so much and stealing all of those bases, I was exhausted."

While he's yet to steal a base in his MLB return, his other contributions have helped the Brewers compile a surprising 8-7 record entering Wednesday's game against the Chicago Cubs - half a game ahead of the defending World Series champions.

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 Posted: Thu Apr 20th, 2017 09:59 pm
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If he does play until he's 50, like he hopes, Ichiro Suzuki, the inimitable Japanese legend, will get plenty more opportunities to take the field in Seattle, where he delighted fans and turned himself into a franchise icon over his decade-plus with the Mariners.

If, however, Wednesday indeed marked the last time he ever steps into the box at Safeco Field, well, the 43-year-old sure left on a high note.

Playing in front of his old fans quite possibly for the final time - and the first time since joining the Miami Marlins in 2015 - the venerable outfielder made sure they went home with one last memory to cherish, launching a ninth-inning solo shot off Evan Marshall that sent 27,147 fans (who received Ichiro bobbleheads as they entered the ballpark) into a frenzy.

Ichiro, who hasn't gone deep more than once in a season since 2013, could hardly believe it himself.

"I saw the ball go over the fence, and I've got to pinch myself to make sure that that really happened," Ichiro told MLB.com's Doug Miller through an interpreter. "I feel grateful that it happened. This one will be a special one to remember for a while."

Though Ichiro, a 10-time All-Star and two-time batting champion in his dozen seasons with the Mariners, surprised himself with his unlikely display of pop, Christian Yelich wasn't all that shocked to see the future Hall of Famer go yard.

"I was sitting on the bench when he did it, and I go, 'Of course. Of course he does that,'" the Marlins center fielder said. "What else would you expect?"

Even Kyle Seager, who was in his first full season with Seattle when the Mariners shipped Ichiro to the Bronx in 2012, couldn't help but appreciate the moment.

"I had chills for him," Seager said. "That was bigger than just this game."

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 Posted: Thu Apr 20th, 2017 10:01 pm
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The Miami Marlins announced they will celebrate the life of Jose Fernandez by honoring him with a 9-foot statue at Marlins Park, but the decision isn't sitting well with certain members of the South Florida community.

One unnamed individual who lost his son in a fatal DUI crash wrote a letter to team President David Samson to express his opposition to the statue, saying: "This is why the decisions by your organization to install a larger than life statue of Jose Fernandez are very troubling to many of us," according to NBC Miami.

Police confirmed in March that the former Marlins pitcher was drunk and high on cocaine while driving a boat that collided with a jetty, resulting in his death and killing two others. In addition, it was proven that Fernandez was driving the boat at 65 mph before it crashed.

The parents of both other victims filed separate $2-million lawsuits on his estate in January.

"I just think we have to be very careful about hinting and memorializing a person who would've been charged with two counts of manslaughter had he survived. We can't condone the drinking and drugged driving," said Sally Matson, a victim advocate with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

The Marlins president said despite the concerns, the organization will move forward with building the statue with respect to Fernandez and his family.

"People make mistakes, mistakes have consequences but it doesn't change what Jose meant to the Marlins, what he meant to Miami, what he meant to the community," Samson said.

"The fact is he will always be a Marlin that doesn't change. When you love somebody you love them when things are good and when things are bad."

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 Posted: Thu Apr 20th, 2017 10:03 pm
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The battle for ownership of the Miami Marlins appears headed into the home stretch, and it looks like a major bidding war for the club has commenced.

Final bids to purchase the club from longtime owner Jeffrey Loria were submitted from prospective groups sometime last week, according to Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick, and the prices could be staggering. The bids range between $1.2 billion and $1.3 billion, sources close to the negotiations told Soshnick - not far from the $1.6 billion price tag Loria apparently asked for.

It was reported Wednesday that New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter and onetime Florida governor Jeb Bush had joined forces in an attempt to buy the team. They're said to be competing with two other groups; sources told Charles Gasparino and Brian Schwartz of FOX Business that one of those groups is led by Tagg Romney, the son of former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and a manager at Solamere Capital.

In November, the Romney family - led by Tagg, but apparently not Mitt - made a failed offer to buy the Marlins, according to the Boston Globe's Matt Viser. It was reported in February that the Romneys were interested in purchasing a minority share of the Yankees.

The third bidder is New York-based financier Wayne Rothbaum, reports Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald.

Loria bought the Marlins from then-owner John Henry for $158.5 million in February 2002 as part of a complicated transaction that saw Henry purchase the Boston Red Sox, while Loria transferred his ownership of the now defunct Montreal Expos to Major League Baseball.

The 76-year-old Loria reportedly had a "handshake agreement" to sell the Marlins to a different group for $1.6 billion in February, but the transaction apparently fell through. Any sale of the club must be approved by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, as well as the other 29 owners.

Forbes recently ranked the Marlins' total value 25th among major-league franchises at $940 million.

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 Posted: Thu Apr 20th, 2017 10:06 pm
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Freddie Freeman etched his name into the Atlanta Braves​​​' record books Wednesday evening.

The first baseman hit a solo home run off Washington Nationals starter Joe Ross in the third inning to reach base safely in 12 consecutive plate appearances, becoming the only player in franchise history to do so. Freeman surpassed Jeff Burroughs' record of 11-straight plate appearances set in 1978.

Freeman's record-setting long ball traveled 420 feet, according to Statcast, and was his sixth of the 2017 campaign.

The 27-year-old's streak would end in the sixth when he grounded out to begin the inning.

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 Posted: Thu Apr 20th, 2017 10:07 pm
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It's been a long time since Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts walked forlornly back to the dugout after striking out, but it finally happened Wednesday.

Betts struck out against Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Francisco Liriano in the fourth inning, ending his streak of 129 plate appearances without doing so.

The 24-year-old last struck out Sept. 12, 2016 against the Baltimore Orioles.

The streak was the longest by a Red Sox player since Denny Doyle went 159 plate appearances in 1975, according to Elias Sports.

Betts, who finished second in American League MVP voting a season ago, was hitting .356/.420/.489 entering Wednesday's game.

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 Posted: Thu Apr 20th, 2017 10:09 pm
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Pablo Sandoval can't seem to put it together when he plays in Toronto. The site of his infamous belt-breaking swing in 2016, it's his fielding that has now taken some lumps in his first trip north of the border in 2017.

The Boston Red Sox third baseman committed his third error of the young season in the second inning of Wednesday's 3-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. He made an errant throw on a Troy Tulowitzki ground ball to open the inning. A Mitch Moreland fielding error on the following at-bat exacerbated the situation, eventually leading to the game's only three runs - all unearned.

Red Sox manager John Farrell didn't shy away from criticizing Sandoval's play, either, according to ESPN's Scott Lauber.

"I think there's been at times better range," he said. "There's been times where there's been some plays that, quite frankly, should be made. Tonight was an example of that."

Sandoval is fortunate he wasn't credited with a fielding error the night before when he fumbled a ball on another Tulowitzki grounder. Tulowitzki was credited with a base hit on the play.

He partially made up for his fielding blunders by going 2-for-3 at the plate, and had three hits the night before, but he's still only batting .224 for the season.

In his first season with the Red Sox in 2015, Sandoval committed 15 errors in 123 games. He played only two games in 2016, committing a throwing error in the process. He'll get another shot at redemption in Toronto on Thursday, as he's penciled in at third base yet again before the team hits the road for a weekend set in Baltimore against the Orioles.

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 Posted: Thu Apr 20th, 2017 10:09 pm
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The Pittsburgh Pirates canceled an upcoming Starling Marte jersey giveaway two days after the outfielder was handed an 80-game suspension by the league for the use of a performance-enhancing drug.

"We decided that it would not be appropriate to provide the Marte alternate jersey on the originally scheduled day while Starling is on the restricted list,” Pirates spokesman Brian Warecki said in a statement obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Marte, an All-Star for the first time last season, is currently on the restricted list and won't be eligible to return to the Pirates' lineup until late July, while the giveaway was scheduled for July 2.

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 Posted: Thu Apr 20th, 2017 10:12 pm
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It's a fire sale and everyone must go.

Chris Sale extended his string of dominance on the mound Thursday against the Blue Jays, becoming the first Boston Red Sox starter ever to strike out 13 batters in Toronto, according to Red Sox Notes.

Additionally, Sale is the only pitcher in team history to allow fewer than five hits in his first four starts, per Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.

On top of breaking strikeout records in Toronto, the 28-year-old stud became the first Red Sox starter to rack up 12-plus strikeouts in consecutive outings since Pedro Martinez in 2001, according to Evan Drellich of CSN New England. It's also the 28th time in major-league history a starting pitcher has struck out 13 hitters on 102 pitches or fewer.

Of those pitches, 80 were strikes. In the second and third innings combined, Sale threw just 20 pitches - 17 strikes, no balls - and only three balls were put in play.

The left-hander took a while to heat up last season - he didn't record 10 or more strikeouts in a start until Aug. 3. He's fanned 10 or more in three of his first four starts with the Red Sox, according to Jared Carrabis of Barstool Sports.

After Thursday's performance, Sale has 42 strikeouts on the season and has only issued six walks.

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