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lobo316
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The Atlanta Braves have traded pitchers David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve to the New York Yankees for left-hander Manny Banuelos, theBraves announced Thursday.

Banuelos, once considered a top prospect in 2011, missed all of the 2013 campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He recorded a 4.11 ERA while throwing 76 2/3 innings across three minor-league levels last season.

The Yankees get a proven reliever in Carpenter as part of the deal. The 29-year-old is entering his first year of arbitration eligibility, and has posted an impressive 2.63 ERA over the past two seasons in Atlanta. The seventh inning could belong to the right-hander as he should slot in behind fireballer Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller in high-leverage situations.

Shreve, 24, was drafted by the Braves in the 11th round of the 2010 draft. The young lefty made his major league debut in July, and finished the year with a stellar 0.73 ERA and 15/3 K/BB ratio in 15 appearances.

Early Twitter reaction from a few respected reporters suggests the Yankees are poised to gain the most from the swap: 

#Braves continue to try to add SP with high ceilings. But sign of how much NYY think Banuelos has fallen to move for 2 relievers
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 1, 2015

I'd take either Carpenter or Shreve over Banuelos, much less both. Steal for the Yanks. No wonder they felt they could trade Kelley.
— Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot) January 1, 2015

I'm surprised #Braves would give up Shreve, who impressed in limited duty as rookie, and Carpenter, who's only 1st-time arb guy not big sal
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) January 1, 2015

The #Braves view Banuelos as an upside young left-handed starter who might have a shot to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation.
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) January 1, 2015

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The New York Yankees have engineered an atypical offseason thus far, as general manager Brian Cashman focused this winter on adding youth and increasing roster flexibility rather than pursuing any of the market's marquee free agents.

This strategy represents a stark departure from the club's standard operating procedure - the Yankees spent nearly $500 million last winter doling out contracts to Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Masahiro Tanaka - but Cashman said his work this offseason has helped diversify his roster.

"We're much deeper now," Cashman told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. "We're much more flexible. We're younger, more diverse."

Though the Yankees did spend a bit of money to sign left-handed reliever Andrew Miller and third baseman Chase Headley, the club also netted a number of young, cost-controlled players through a series of trades. The acquisitions of Didi Gregorius, Nathan Eovaldi, Gonzalez Germen and David Carpenter, in particular, expanded the club's asset base and will afford Cashman increased leverage in potential trade talks, as he now has pieces to offer beyond overpriced, declining veterans.

Several noticeable weaknesses remain on the Yankees' roster - second base and rotation depth, in particular - but Rosenthal noted that Cashman may not be finished.

"I'm open to anything," added Cashman, who signed a three-year extension with the Yankees in October.

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CINCINNATI -- A longtime federal judge in Ohio known for his support of civil rights and for sending baseball star Pete Rose to prison has died.

S. Arthur Spiegel was 94.

His judicial assistant for his 34 years on the federal bench confirms that Spiegel died Wednesday in Cincinnati.

Spiegel was appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 and took senior status in 1995. He earned degrees from the University of Cincinnati and Harvard and served as a Marine in the Pacific campaign during World War II.

Spiegel sentenced Rose to prison for five months in 1990 for tax evasion stemming from unreported income from gambling, baseball memorabilia sales and autograph appearances.

The judge is survived by his wife and four sons.

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Former closer Ryan Madson will reportedly attempt a major-league comeback next season with the Kansas City Royals.

ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports the right-hander has agree to terms on a minor-league contract with the Royals. The deal includes an invitation to spring training.

Madson, 34, hasn't pitched in the majors since saving 32 games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011. He signed a one-year, $8.5-million deal with the Cincinnati Reds the following offseason but never threw a pitch for them after suffering a UCL tear in his right elbow during spring training. He missed the entire 2012 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

It's Madson's second attempt to return to the bigs after a failed bid with the Los Angeles Angels in 2013.

Prior to his injury, Madson was among the game's most effective relievers. He pitched to a 2.78 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with a 9.6 K/9 rate from 2009-2011.

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James Shields isn't likely to sign until fellow free agent Max Scherzer inks a contract, but the market for the right-hander appears to be shrinking in the meantime.

A number of teams are shying away from Shields for different reasons, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

The Arizona Diamondbacks and Miami Marlins have backed off Shields due to his expected contract demands, which are reported to be in the five-year range for $110 million. ESPN's Jim Bowden believes the Marlins are actually still in play for Shields, but it could depend on whether or not Dan Haren decides to retire or is traded.

The San Francisco Giants, who were once pursuing Shields, are now content with their rotation after bringing back Jake Peavy on a two-year pact, while the Boston Red Sox are highly unlikely to sign Shields after revamping their pitching staff by adding Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Justin Masterson, according to Rosenthal's sources.

The San Diego Padres and Shields's former team, the Kansas City Royals, are also bowing out.

Rosenthal notes that, despite having needs for a starter, none of the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers or Los Angeles Angels are linked to Shields.

Shields, 33, has thrown 200 innings in eight consecutive seasons. The heavy workload is undoubtedly a major reason why some teams may be reluctant to commit to a long-term deal.

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Speeding up games is a hot-button issue in baseball, but don't expect radical change - at least for now.

Major League Baseball is highly unlikely to institute a 20-second pitch clock for the 2015 season, according to sources close to FOX Sports' Jon Morosi.

The clock was used on an experimental basis in the Arizona Fall League (AFL) in 2014, but rallying support from the MLB Players Association in time for Opening Day seems unrealistic.

Other rule changes intended to speed up the game will be discussed, however, as MLB owners gather for their quarterly meetings in Arizona next week.

Some of the changes include:
  • A rule mandating hitters keep one foot in the batter's box between pitches, with exceptions including foul balls, wild pitches, and timeouts being granted.
  • A rule stipulating runners must slide directly into second base on double plays, as opposed to deviating from their paths with a takeout slide. The idea is that forcing runners to slide should cut down on injuries, thus saving time.
  • Modifying the 2014 instant replay rule by forcing managers to indicate more quickly to umpires whether they intend to challenge a particular call.
The highly controversial Rule 7.13, which prohibits home-plate collisions, will also be revisited in an attempt to clarify it.

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A busy offseason continued Monday morning for the Chicago White Sox, as the club reportedly agreed to a one-year, $4-million deal with veteran utilityman Emilio Bonifacio, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports adds that Bonifacio's deal also includes a club option for 2016.

Bonifacio, who boasts considerable experience at six defensive positions, is set to join his fifth team since the beginning of 2013 and could compete for regular playing time with the White Sox.

The 29-year-old will likely vie for an everyday role at second base, as the White Sox have few appealing options at the positions despite a busy offseason that has seen Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche, Jeff Samardzija, and David Robertson join the club.

Bonifacio compiled 2.1 WAR over 110 games split between the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves in 2014, hitting .259/.305/.345 (81 OPS+) while stealing 26 bases in 34 attempts. Though he received the majority of his starts in center field last season, Bonifacio still logged 227 1/3 innings at second base, wherein he was worth -3 defensive runs saved.

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The Philadelphia Phillies deviated Monday from their plans to get younger this offseason, as the club agreed to a one-year, $5-million deal with 36-year-old right-hander Aaron Harang, the team announced.

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. started in earnest this winter to dismantle an aging franchise that hasn't managed a winning season since 2011, trading away both Jimmy Rollins and Marlon ByrdJonathan Papelbon could also be shipped elsewhere this winter and Amaro continues to look for a team willing to take on Ryan Howard's contract, but the executive still felt comfortable adding Harang, another veteran, to his roster for the upcoming season.

"Aaron brings a wealth of experience and durability to our rotation," Amaro told MLB.com. "He had a very solid season for the Braves last year and will complement the left-handers in our rotation nicely."

Harang, a 13-year veteran, rebounded nicely with the Atlanta Braveslast season following a disastrous 2013 campaign, crafting a 3.57 ERA (102 ERA+) with a 1.40 WHIP over 33 starts. The soft-throwing righty will slot in behind Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee in Philadelphia's rotation next season, though it's likely Amaro will look to unload him in exchange for prospect capital at the trade deadline.

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More than a decade after serving as the third base coach for the New York Yankees, Willie Randolph is ready to head back to the Bronx.

The former Yankees second baseman recently interviewed to work with the team's infielders and act as the first-base coach, replacing Mick Kelleher, according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.

Randolph, who won two World Series as a player with the Yankees and served as a co-captain for three seasons, managed the New York Mets from 2005-08 and acted as the Baltimore Orioles third-base coach in 2011.

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Right-handed reliever Mitchell Boggs will attempt to resurrect his career with the Boston Red Sox, as the two sides reportedly agreed to a minor league deal Monday, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.

The soon-to-be 31-year-old hasn't pitched in the majors since 2013, after posting a 8.10 ERA in 23 1/3 innings split between the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies.

Boggs posted a 3.08 ERA and 1.22 WHIP across 201 1/3 innings with the Cardinals from 2010-12 but has struggled to stick with a major league club after his dismal performance in 2013. He signed a $1.1-million deal with the Chicago White Sox last February but was released, before agreeing to minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants in July.

Unable to crack either roster, Boggs spent last season in Triple-A making 35 appearances in which he crafted an 8.63 ERA in 49 innings, striking out 22 while walking 24.

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The Texas Rangers reportedly agreed to a minor league deal with right-handed reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo, according to Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram.

Oviedo - formally known as Leo Nunez - made his return to the majors in 2014 following a three-year hiatus. The soon-to-be 33-year-old was placed on MLB's restricted list for using fake identification documents in 2012 and sprained the UCL in his right elbow upon his return that resulted in Tommy John surgery in 2012.

In 32 appearances with the Tampa Bay Rays last season, Oviedo posted a 3.69 ERA and 1.35 WHIP while striking out 26 batters in 31 2/3 innings. He was designated for assignment on July 26 and released a week later.

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The Texas Rangers maintained their infield depth Monday by reportedly re-signing utility veteran Adam Rosales.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports the Rangers agreed to terms with Rosales on a one-year deal worth $900,000 after non-tendering the 31-year-old infielder earlier this winter.

Rosales hit .262/.328/.378 with four homers and four steals over 181 plate appearances in 2014. The seven-year veteran owns a .701 OPS (97 OPS+) across two seasons in Texas.

Rosales, who started 27 games at first base last season, is expected to provide backup depth at all four infield positions.

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lobo316 wrote: Speeding up games is a hot-button issue in baseball, but don't expect radical change - at least for now.

Major League Baseball is highly unlikely to institute a 20-second pitch clock for the 2015 season, according to sources close to FOX Sports' Jon Morosi.

The clock was used on an experimental basis in the Arizona Fall League (AFL) in 2014, but rallying support from the MLB Players Association in time for Opening Day seems unrealistic.

Other rule changes intended to speed up the game will be discussed, however, as MLB owners gather for their quarterly meetings in Arizona next week.

Some of the changes include:
  • A rule mandating hitters keep one foot in the batter's box between pitches, with exceptions including foul balls, wild pitches, and timeouts being granted.
  • A rule stipulating runners must slide directly into second base on double plays, as opposed to deviating from their paths with a takeout slide. The idea is that forcing runners to slide should cut down on injuries, thus saving time.
  • Modifying the 2014 instant replay rule by forcing managers to indicate more quickly to umpires whether they intend to challenge a particular call.
The highly controversial Rule 7.13, which prohibits home-plate collisions, will also be revisited in an attempt to clarify it.

They really ought to do something, because watching millionaires fiddle with their gloves and having a wander around every thirty seconds isn't my idea of a good time.

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Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. expressed last month his desire to trade franchise icon Ryan Howard this winter to expedite the moribund franchise's long-awaited rebuild.

The $60 million in guaranteed money remaining on Howard's contract isn't the only obstacle Amaro will have to navigate in trade talks, however, as the first baseman also wields a partial no-trade clause that allows him to block deals with 20 teams.

According to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, the nine teams that Howard can be traded to without his permission include: the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, and Tampa Bay Rays.

Amaro, meanwhile, can't afford to wait too long to unload Howard. The 35-year-old will gain full no-trade rights in May when he officially reaches 10-and-5 status (any player with 10 years of MLB service time who has spent five consecutive seasons with the same club reserves the right to veto any trade).

Should Amaro broker a deal amenable to Howard, though, the Phillies would almost certainly be forced to absorb at least some of the money remaining on his hefty contract. A three-time All-Star, Howard has regressed considerably in recent years, managing a meager 98 OPS+ over the last three seasons, while proving to be a defensive liability at first base.

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The Detroit Tigers made progress Tuesday towards improving their ghastly bullpen from one season ago, as the club agreed to a one-year deal with veteran left-hander Tom Gorzelanny.

“Tom is an established reliever who can help solidify the bullpen on the left side,” general manager Dave Dombrowski said in a statement, “and will be a nice addition to our roster.”

Gorzelanny enjoyed a fine - albeit abbreviated - season with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014, fashioning a sterling 0.86 ERA with a 1.43 WHIP over 23 appearances. The 32-year-old yielded just one home run over 21 innings and fashioned a career-best 24.2 percent strikeout rate, but missed most of the first half of the season recovering from December shoulder surgery.

Few teams fielded a relief corps, meanwhile, that struggled as mightily as Detroit's in 2014, as the club's bullpen fashioned a 4.29 ERA - the fourth-worst mark in the majors - with a 1.48 WHIP and unimpressive peripheral statistics.

In a corresponding move, the Tigers designated right-hander Luke Putkonen for assignment to create a spot for Gorzellany on the 40-man roster.

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For the second time in less than two years, San Francisco Giants right-hander Tim Hudson has undergone ankle surgery.

The 39-year-old experienced discomfort during his offseason workouts and had surgery to remove bone spurs in his right ankle. With a projected timetable of approximately eight weeks, Hudson is expected to be ready for Opening Day.

"There was awareness that it wasn't always the most comfortable," assistant general manager Bobby Evans told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. "We sent him home for the winter anticipating that offseason rest would do him good. When he picked up his training this winter it irritated him to the point where he said, 'If this is going to be an issue during the season, I don't want to deal with this. I want to resolve it."

Hudson had his 2013 season cut short after fracturing the same ankle when it was accidentally stepped on while he ran to cover first base. Hudson underwent surgery and missed the final 61 games.

Agreeing to a two-year, $23-million deal prior to last season, Hudson missed nine days due to a left hip strain in 2014, but didn't develop any worrisome issues with his surgically repaired ankle. In 189 1/3 innings, he posted a 9-13 record and 3.57 ERA.

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Josh Johnson is getting a second chance with the San Diego Padres.

The two sides officially agreed to a one-year deal on Wednesday. While financial terms were not disclosed, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the deal is worth $1 million guaranteed, with the ability for the soon-to-be 31-year-old Johnson to make $6-7 million in incentives.

Johnson agreed to a one-year, $8-million deal with the Padres prior to last season, but suffered a strained forearm/elbow muscle in his pitching arm in spring training, resulting in his second Tommy John surgery.

A two-time All-Star, Johnson last pitched in the majors for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013, going 2-8 with a 6.20 ERA in 81 1/3 innings.

The right-hander will likely challenge former Blue Jays teammate Brandon Morrow and youngsters Robbie Erlin and Casey Kelly for the final two spots in the Padres' rotation.

To make room for Johnson, the Padres designated infielder/outfielder Jake Goebbert for assignment.

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this guy has the perfect name for a reliever


The Atlanta Braves signed reliever Josh Outman to a one-year contract, the team announced Wednesday.

The left-hander posted a 4-0 record with a 2.86 ERA with the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees in just over 28 innings pitched.

The Braves also finalized deals with catcher A.J. Pierzynski and right-hander Jason Grilli on Wednesday.

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The Atlanta Braves are set to make room on the 40-man roster for three new signings by designating middle infielder Tyler Pastornicky for assignment, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.

Selected in the fifth round of the 2008 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays and traded to Atlanta in 2010, Pastornicky appeared in 124 games over the past three seasons. The 25-year-old owns a career .243/.295/.314 line with two home runs and 15 RBIs in 268 plate appearances.

Atlanta inked second baseman Alberto Callaspo to a one-year deal last month, and with the signings of left-hander Josh Outman, right-hander Jason Grilli and catcher A.J. Pierzynski becoming official Wednesday, Pastornicky became the odd man out.

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John McDonald, the diminutive shortstop whose defensive prowess allowed him to hang around the major leagues for 16 years, announced his retirement from baseball on Wednesday.

McDonald, a 12th-round pick in the 1996 draft, endeared himself to both fans and teammates with his hustle and remarkable defensive skills following his MLB debut in 1999. The 5-foot-9 infielder was seldom feared with a bat in his hands – he compiled a .233/.273/.323 (59 OPS+) in his career – but superb work at shortstop allowed him to play for eight different teams throughout his 16 seasons.

McDonald spent the bulk of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays, eventually becoming a fan favorite over his 549 games with the club. No team ever relied as heavily on McDonald, who eclipsed 100 games played in two seasons with the Blue Jays despite never appearing in more than 95 with any other team.

Though the majority of the highlights from McDonald's career revolve around his defensive work, the light-hitting shortstop famously homered on Father's Day while with the Blue Jays in 2010, just days after his own father, Jack, passed away.

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The Arizona Diamondbacks reportedly bolstered their infield depth Wednesday afternoon by agreeing to a minor-league deal with veteran utilityman Nick Punto, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

The versatile 37-year-old accrued 0.2 WAR with the Oakland Athletics last season and has eclipsed 100 games played only once since 2009. Punto, however, will likely join Cliff Pennington as the reserve infielders on Arizona's bench in 2015.

Punto, who made his MLB debut in 2001, spent last season in a bench role with the Athletics, hitting .207/.296/.293 with 11 extra-base hits over 73 games while spending time at four defensive positions. Since 2010, Punto has spent time with five clubs, compiling a .239/.325/.319 line with seven home runs in 427 contests.

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The New York Mets avoided arbitration with right-hander Bobby Parnell, agreeing to a one-year deal for a reported $3.7 million.

Parnell underwent Tommy John surgery last April and may not be ready for Opening Day, but manager Terry Collins still plans to use him as the team's closer upon his return.

Parnell recorded 22 saves and a 2.16 ERA in 2013, but Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia proved last season they're both capable of holding leads late in games, so Parnell could have a very short leash in high-leverage situations.

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lobo316 wrote: John McDonald, the diminutive shortstop whose defensive prowess allowed him to hang around the major leagues for 16 years, announced his retirement from baseball on Wednesday.


He was well known as a genuine good guy so it was nice to see him get a World Series ring with Boston in 2013.

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J.P. Arencibia, the 29-year-old catcher whose tenure with the Toronto Blue Jays ended unceremoniously last winter, will get a chance to re-establish himself with another American League East team in 2015.

The Baltimore Orioles finalized a minor-league deal with Arencibia on Thursday afternoon that includes an invitation to spring training, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.

Arencibia, a first-round pick in the 2007 draft, spent the first four seasons of his career in Toronto, but was non-tendered after the 2013 campaign amid persistent contact issues and sub-standard defense behind the plate. During his tenure with the Blue Jays, Arencibia hit .212/.258/.408 (78 OPS+) with 64 home runs and a 28.7 percent strikeout rate.

The beleaguered catcher subsequently landed a one-year, $1.8-million contract from the Texas Rangers, but his struggles at the plate continued in 2014. Over 62 games with the Rangers, he managed an ugly .177/.239/.369 line with 10 home runs in 213 plate appearances, spending time both behind the plate and at first base.

Though Arencibia seems unlikely to receive regular playing time with the Orioles, he could serve as a backup to Caleb Joseph behind the plate should Matt Wieters need more time to recover from Tommy John surgery.

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Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth will reportedly undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder Friday to repair the AC joint in his throwing arm.

Werth is expected to need up to three months for recovery, according to multiple reports. The Nationals open their season at home against the New York Mets on April 6.

It's the same AC joint that Werth appeared to injure in August while making a catch at the wall in Washington. He missed five games with inflammation in his shoulder and received a cortisone shot after an MRI revealed no structural damage, according to Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington.

Werth posted a 1.016 OPS the rest of the season.

"It's tough, because you want to play," Werth said at the time of the injury. "But it's the type of injury that is painful, and they tell me I'm not at risk of injuring myself, I guess, once it's to a level that's tolerable. If you piss it off more while it's pissed off, then you're looking at more time. It's tricky."

Werth, 35, continued to provide above league average production at the plate last season, posting a .394 on-base percentage and the second-most doubles (37) of his career. The 12-year veteran appeared in 147 games in 2014 - his most in three seasons.

Werth has $63 million remaining on the seven-year, $126-million contract he signed with the Nationals in 2010 and is set to earn $21 million next season.

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The Los Angeles Angels bolstered the left side of their infield Thursday, acquiring third base prospect Kyle Kubitza from the Atlanta Braves in a three-player trade that includes a swap of pitching prospects.

Kubitza was recently ranked the 10th-best prospect in the Braves organization, according to Baseball America. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound infielder led the Southern League in on-base percentage (.405) and ranked inside the top 10 in nearly every major offensive category in 2014.

The 24-year-old Double-A prospect provides the Angels minor league depth at the hot corner with starting third baseman David Freese under contract for just one more season.

"We feel like Kyle is on the doorstep of the big leagues," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto told the Los Angeles Times. "He's an athletic left-handed swinger with really good strike-zone judgment. He runs deep counts. He's got lift in his swing. He has some power potential that hasn't tapped into yet. And he can really throw."

Heading to Atlanta is highly regarded Venezuelan left-hander Ricardo Sanchez, who was ranked the Angels' second-best prospect entering the 2015 season by Baseball America.

Sanchez, 17, struck out 43 batters in 38 2/3 innings last year in Rookie Ball.

"Ricardo is still four or five years away from poking his head into the big leagues," Dipoto said. "At the end of the day, we're projecting a third baseman who can play in the big leagues sooner rather than later, who fills a void, and who has a strong ceiling himself."

The Angels also received 24-year-old right-hander Nate Hyatt, who made 37 appearances in relief last season for the Braves' Class-A affiliate. Hyatt pitched to a 2.71 ERA and 1.38 WHIP with a 10.4 K/9 rate across 63 innings in 2014.

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Robinson Cano is serious about being 100-percent healthy for spring training.

The Seattle Mariners second baseman has received permission from the club to play a few games in the Dominican Winter League to test his broken toe.

"Robinson has reported to us his broken right pinkie toe is fully healed," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said in a statement. "(He) wants to get on a baseball field to test it before reporting for spring training. We look forward to Robinson reporting to Peoria in a little over a month ready to go for the 2015 season."

Cano, who hails from the Dominican Republic, suffered the injury on Nov. 15 while touring Japan with a group of major-league players for an exhibition series.

Cano hit an impressive .314 with 14 home runs and 82 RBIs during his first season in Seattle. The six-time All-Star's long-term health is a primary concern for the Mariners after they inked him to a 10-year, $240-million contract in December 2013.

The Mariners open spring camp on Feb. 20 and the first full-squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 25.

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The Baltimore Orioles officially announced the signing of outfielder/designated hitter Delmon Young to a one-year, $2.25-million contract Friday.

The signing reunites Young with the Orioles after the 29-year-old spent all of last season in Baltimore.

Young is expected to reprise his role as the team's fourth outfielder, while getting the majority of his at-bats as a DH.

The signing of Young gives the Orioles some additional depth in the outfield after losing both Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz to free agency this winter. Baltimore is reportedly in serious talks to sign outfielder Colby Rasmus, which could limit the amount of time Young features defensively.

After agreeing to a minor-league deal with the O's last January, Young cracked the major-league roster and featured in 83 games, slashing .302/.337/.442 with seven home runs and 30 RBIs.

In order to make room for Young on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated catcher Ryan Lavarnway for assignment. It's the fourth time he's been released from a team since Dec. 4.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers continued their efforts to improve one of last season's worst bullpens by agreeing to a minor-league deal with left-handed reliever David Huff.

Huff split last season between the New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants, posting a 3.36 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 59 innings. The six-year veteran owns a 5.02 ERA and 1.49 WHIP in 382 career innings and hasn't handled left-handed hitters particularity well. In 564 plate appearances, lefties are hitting .300/.366/.474 off Huff.

The 30-year-old is one of seven non-roster pitchers who've received spring training invites from the Dodgers.

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Oakland and Tampa Bay made a 5 player trade.


from cbssports.com:


Ben Zobrist has played second base, right field and shortstop for the Rays.


The Oakland Athletics have acquired infielder Ben Zobrist and shortstop Yunel Escobar from the Tampa Bay Rays for catcher John Jaso and a pair of minor league players.

The Rays also received top shortstop prospect Daniel Robertson, minor league outfielder Boog Powell and cash considerations.

Tampa Bay announced later Saturday that it has finalized a one-year, $7.5 million deal with veteran infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, who spent last season with the Cleveland Indians and Washington Nationals.

Zobrist, 33, has spent his entire nine-year career with the Rays and has significant playing time at several positions, including second base, shortstop and right field. The two-time All-Star batted .272 with 10 home runs and 52 RBIs last season.

"It's an emotional and meaningful day as we bid farewell to Ben Zobrist and thank him for everything he's meant to the Rays organization," Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said in a statement released by the team. "Any description of his value, talent and character would understate how we feel about Ben, and we consider ourselves fortunate for all our great moments together."

Escobar batted .258 with seven homers last season, his second with Tampa Bay and his eighth in the majors.

Jaso appeared in 99 games last season for Oakland, batting .264 with nine homers and 40 RBIs.

Robertson, 20, was a first-round draft selection of the Athletics in 2012 and batted .310 with 15 homers at Class A Stockton last season.

Powell, who is not related to former Baltimore Orioles slugger Boog Powell, batted .343 while splitting last season between Stockton and Class A Beloit.

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Escobar is the single laziest player Bobby Cox ever managed as he literally shipped his ass out of town.  He's talented but a head case and the talent doesn't match the crazy factor.

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Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane is back in Josh Reddick's good books, at least for now.

The outfielder didn't hold back his feelings when Beane dealt slugger Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays earlier this offseason.

Josh Reddick tells me he is shocked by Donaldson trade. "This doesn't make sense to me. We just traded our best player the last 2 years."

— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) November 29, 2014
But upon hearing news Beane worked a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays to bring Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar to the Bay Area, Reddick quickly changed his tune.

pic.twitter.com/8vinkqR8jQ

— J-Red (@RealJoshReddick) January 10, 2015
That was meant to be funny! I'm cracking up over here

— J-Red (@RealJoshReddick) January 10, 2015
Beane has certainly been putting his players through the emotional ringer with numerous trades over the past year. Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and now John Jaso have been sent packing.

And something tells me Beane isn't done wheeling and dealing just yet.

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The San Diego Padres have signed right-hander Jose Valverde to a minor-league contract, reports Matt Eddy of Baseball America.

The veteran reliever compiled an ugly 5.66 ERA and 1.65 WHIP in 21 appearances for the New York Mets before being released.

The 36-year-old does, however, have 288 career saves to his credit.

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n the days prior to dealing Ben Zobrist to the Oakland Athletics, the Tampa Bay Rays discussed shipping the utility man to theWashington Nationals

Zobrist was one of several moving pieces the Nationals, Rays and New York Mets were trying to orchestrate as part of a blockbuster deal that eventually fell through, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports





3-TEAM TRADE
RECEIVES
SENDS


Nationals
Ben Zobrist, Yunel Escobar
Ian Desmond

Rays
Top Mets prospects
Ben Zobrist, Yunel Escobar

Mets
Ian Desmond
Top prospects


Rosenthal reports that the deal fell apart due to the Rays' request for two of the Mets' top prospects, including pitcher Noah Syndergaard, as New York believed the cost for shortstop Ian Desmond was too high. 

The Mets have been eager to upgrade at shortstop all offseason, but have struggled to find a match due to their unwillingness to part with some of their top prospects. 

Tampa ended up trading Zobrist and Yunel Escobar to the A's in exchange for catcher John Jaso and a pair of prospects. 

Last edited on Mon Jan 12th, 2015 05:36 pm by lobo316

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A.J. Burnett acknowledges last season's struggles, but the right-hander won't let them define the twilight of his career.

"A bad year is a bad year," Burnett told Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune. "I know it's on the back of the (baseball) card, and that's the one you don't want to look at but ... I know I'm in a good (pitcher's) park. If I keep the ball on the ground with our defense, it's going to be a huge positive."

Burnett is back with the Pittsburgh Pirates after spending last season with their state rival Philadelphia Phillies. The 38-year-old didn't appear quite like himself in 2014, posting a career-high 18 losses and a 4.59 ERA, though Burnett admits injuries contributed to his struggles.

"If you're not 100 percent healthy, your mind knows that," Burnett said. "It's a struggle."

Healthy and rejuvenated, Burnett signed a one-year, $8.5-million deal with the Pirates and is determined to make his 17th and final season in the majors a good one.

"I got one (season) left," said Burnett. "I wanted to make sure I went somewhere where I was happy but also had a chance to win."

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Move over, Josh Thole: newly minted starting catcher Russell Martin isn't looking for many days off as he embarks on his first season with the Toronto Blue Jays.

After agreeing to a five-year, $85-million deal in November, Martin isn't shying away from the idea of catching knuckleballer R.A. Dickey - a role primarily reserved for Thole last season.

"I'm preparing that that's going to be my job," Martin told John Lott of the National Post. "Really, I don't know why it shouldn't. If I can catch the guy, I can be in the lineup."

Martin will work with Dickey throughout spring training and said he's committed to catching the deceptive pitch, which has claimed a few professional casualties over Dickey's 12-year career.

"I'm really just going to work at it," Martin said, "If I'm not good at it when I first try, I'll work until I am good at it."

Should Martin - who's been lauded for his defensive skills - take control of catching the right-hander, it could spell the end for Thole as a Blue Jay. With last year's starting catcher Dioner Navarro still on the roster, the club could look to deal from its surplus behind the plate.

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lobo316 wrote: A.J. Burnett acknowledges last season's struggles, but the right-hander won't let them define the twilight of his career.

"A bad year is a bad year," Burnett told Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune. "I know it's on the back of the (baseball) card, and that's the one you don't want to look at but ... I know I'm in a good (pitcher's) park. If I keep the ball on the ground with our defense, it's going to be a huge positive."

Burnett is back with the Pittsburgh Pirates after spending last season with their state rival Philadelphia Phillies. The 38-year-old didn't appear quite like himself in 2014, posting a career-high 18 losses and a 4.59 ERA, though Burnett admits injuries contributed to his struggles.

"If you're not 100 percent healthy, your mind knows that," Burnett said. "It's a struggle."

Healthy and rejuvenated, Burnett signed a one-year, $8.5-million deal with the Pirates and is determined to make his 17th and final season in the majors a good one.

"I got one (season) left," said Burnett. "I wanted to make sure I went somewhere where I was happy but also had a chance to win."
Pirates signed Burnett because they couldn't reach a deal with Johan Santana or lure Kris Benson from retirement

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The Oakland Athletics avoided arbitration with right-hander Jesse Chavez by agreeing to a one-year, $2.15-million deal Monday, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Chavez, 31, is one of the few players to survive the radical offseason overhaul orchestrated by general manager Billy Beane, and could earn a spot in the rotation until Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin return from Tommy John surgery.

After spending the majority of his career in the bullpen, Chavez made 21 starts and 11 relief appearances for the Athletics in 2014, fashioning a 3.45 ERA (108 ERA+) while posting a 2.78 strikeout-to-walk ratio over a career-high 146 innings.

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The Pirates are reportedly on the verge of finalizing a four-year deal with Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang, who will head to Pittsburgh later this week for a physical exam, according to MLB.com's Tom Singer.

Jim Bowden of ESPN reported Monday afternoon that Kang's deal with the Pirates is worth approximately $16 million and includes an option for a fifth season. An earlier report indicated much of Kang's salary could be based on performance incentives.

Should Kang pass his physical Thursday, the 27-year-old would become the first position player to transition from the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) to the major leagues.

The Pirates would also be obligated to pay the KBO's Nexen Heroes a sum of $5,002,015 - the value of the bid submitted to acquire exclusive negotiating rights with Kang - once they finalize a deal with the five-time KBO All-Star.

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Last edited on Tue Jan 13th, 2015 03:33 am by lobo316

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Daniel Nava is turning back the clock in an effort to bring value to his club's sudden stockpile of offense.

The switch-hitting outfielder has watched his name plummet down the Boston Red Sox depth chart this winter, and it's causing him to reconsider his approach at the plate. Nava, who owns a career .585 OPS against southpaws from the right side, is debating whether to bat exclusively from the left next season.

"I have thought about it. Is it something I'm going to do? I don't know. It's a tough thing to do," Nava told WEEI.com's Rob Bradford on Monday. "It's definitely something I'm considering doing, but at the same time it’s something I've never done. Would I even be effective lefty on lefty, or would it be better hitting against lefties from the right side. I would have to go out and give it a test run."

While Nava's numbers against right-handers as a lefty batter (career .813 OPS) are strong, he remains skeptical that his success will translate to hitting left-handed pitchers from the same side. That's because the last time he recalls doing so was in Little League.

"I've been a switch-hitter my whole life," he said. "Hopefully I raked in Little League, but I don't really remember."

Nava said he originally contemplated going strictly left-handed in 2011 after speaking with Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis. His struggles last year from the right side (.159/.209/.190) have apparently inspired him to revisit the change.

Another factor Nava is likely weighing is his status on Boston's roster. He turns 32 before Opening Day, is buried behind several players on the club's depth chart and may not make the 25-man roster out of spring training.

As noted by Bradford, Boston's projected lineup figures to stack right-handed heavy. A permanent move to the left side could net Nava more plate appearances, but his ability to secure a roster spot under such circumstances would likely come down to his same-side splits.

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Another highly touted Cuban defector was gobbled up by an MLB club Tuesday when the Arizona Diamondbacks reportedly agreed to a deal with 21-year-old right-hander Yoan Lopez, reports MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez.

Lopez's new deal is reportedly worth $8.25 million, establishing a new record for international amateurs just weeks after Roberto Baldoquin, another Cuban prospect, signed an $8-million deal with the Los Angeles Angels.

Lopez also drew interest from the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. He opted for less money, however, to join the Diamondbacks, who recently signed Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas to a six-year contract.

The deal is still pending a physical, but Lopez is expected to sign his contract Tuesday. Lopez, who was cleared only a few days ago by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, wields a fastball that can touch 100 miles per hour and crafted a 3.12 ERA with a 2.55 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 49 innings in his final season in Cuba.

The Diamondbacks, though, will incur penalties for exceeding their budget for signing international amateurs. The club will be forced to pay a 100-percent tax for every dollar by which they exceeded their bonus pool allotment, and will not be allowed to sign an international amateur for more than $300,000 for the next two signing periods.

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The Washington Nationals added another candidate on Tuesday who will compete in spring training for a spot on the active roster, agreeing to a minor-league deal with veteran utilityman Mike Carp.

Despite laboring through a difficult 2014 season, Carp boasts experience at first base and in the corner outfield. Carp's experience at those positions, in particular, make him an attractive candidate to land a spot on Washington's bench, as right fielder Jayson Werth recently underwent shoulder surgery, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman spent 113 days on the disabled list last season, and left fielder Bryce Harper has battled injury trouble over the last two years.

Carp logged 58 games between the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers last season, wherein he struggled to replicate the success he enjoyed in 2013. The 28-year-old hit just .175/.289/.230 (49 OPS+) with zero home runs and 31 strikeouts in 149 plate appearances in 2014 after managing a career-best 139 OPS+ with nine homers and 18 doubles over 86 contests the season prior.

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Ned Yost managed his Kansas City Royals to their first playoff appearance in 29 years last season, and on Tuesday that success paid off.

The Royals announced that they've agreed to a one-year contract extension with Yost, keeping him in Kansas City through the 2016 season. Yost had one year remaining on the two-year extension he signed with the club in 2013.

Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports Yost only sought a one-year extension due to Royals general manager Dayton Moore's contract status.

"Dayton's got this year and next year, and that's all I wanted," Yost told the Star. "One extra year, I'm happy with that."

Yost, 60, is entering his sixth season with the Royals after managing the club to an 89-73 record and American League pennant. He was recognized for his efforts after finishing third in AL Manager of the Year voting.

The Royals' playoff run helped vindicate the oft-criticized manager, who was skewered during his first two years in Kansas City for his lineup construction and sometimes ill-advised strategic moves.

Yost's unique brand of late-game decision-making nearly sealed his club's fate in the AL wild card game, when he lifted James Shields for rookie Yordano Ventura, despite having the Royals' lights-out bullpen at his full disposal. Nevertheless, Kansas City pulled off an improbable win over the Oakland Athletics and proceeded to win another seven straight games to break the record for most consecutive wins to begin a postseason.

The Royals' Cinderella season extended into the World Series, where the club lost in seven games to the San Francisco Giants.

Kansas City has slowly climbed the standings since Yost was hired as a special assistant in 2010 and later named manager in May that same season.

YEAR  W-L     WPCT AL CENTRAL
2010  55-72  .433       5th
2011  71-91  .438       4th
2012  72-90  .444       3rd
2013  86-76  .531       3rd
2014  89-73  .549       2nd*
* clinched second wild-card berth

Moore spoke to ESPN in September about his decision to hire Yost, after the former big league catcher managed the Milwaukee Brewers to a 457-502 record across six seasons.

"You know how I knew that Ned Yost was a tremendous leader?" Moore said. "Because he's never said one negative word about the Milwaukee Brewers, or their ownership, or Doug Melvin. He's never said, 'They did me wrong' or ripped anybody, or reflected on the past in a negative way. He was all about how we're moving forward. That's what you have to do in this game."

Last edited on Wed Jan 14th, 2015 02:26 am by lobo316

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The Atlanta Braves have reportedly agreed to terms on a deal with left-hander Wandy Rodriguez following a failed physical with the Philadelphia Phillies.

David O'Brien of Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports the deal is a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, where Rodriguez is expected to compete for a rotation spot. If Rodriguez makes the major league roster, he'll reportedly earn a base salary of $2 million.

Tuesday's report comes more than two weeks after an apparent deal was in place between Rodriguez and the Phillies. O'Brein adds that the veteran southpaw failed his physical after flying to Philadelphia to finalize terms of his contract.

Rodriguez, 35, has been hindered by injuries in recent years after pitching to consistent results during eight seasons in Houston. During his prime, Rodriguez posted a 3.47 ERA and 7.6 K/9 rate between 2009-12, averaging 199 innings per season over the four-year period.

Rodriguez's last three seasons in Pittsburgh have been much more underwhelming. The left-hander missed nearly fourth months with a forearm strain in 2013 and was sidelined another month last season with right knee inflammation.

The Dominican native earned $36 million during his three years with the Pirates, but pitched a total of just 164 1/3 innings. He was released by Pittsburgh in May prior to undergoing knee surgery.

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As a new season approaches, the Baltimore Orioles seem increasingly willing to permit executive vice-president Dan Duquette to leave the club for a loftier position with a division rival - contrary to earlier remarks from managing partner Peter Angelos.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Orioles have discussed a compensation package with the Toronto Blue Jays that would allow Duquette to take over as chief executive officer, replacing franchise icon Paul Beeston.

A deal is not imminent, but the Orioles' willingness to engage with the Blue Jays suggests the club is open to parting ways with the executive, who helped engineer a division title in 2014 - their first since 1997. Though Duquette is under contract with the Orioles through 2018, some team executives would prefer to see him go, Rosenthal notes.

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The Houston Astros took another step in their long march toward relevance Wednesday by acquiring 28-year-old catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis from the Atlanta Braves for a trio of prospects, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports suggested Wednesday afternoon that the deal will be finalized once Gattis passes a physical.

Gattis, who has emerged over the last two seasons as one of the game's most reliable power hitters, will join a burgeoning Astros club that started to see an arduous rebuilding process yield results at the major-league level in 2014. Known affectionately in Atlanta as "El Oso Blanco," Gattis will slot into the middle of Houston's lineup after posting 2.3 WAR while hitting .263/.317/.493 with 22 home runs over 108 games last season.

He's unlikely, however, to see much time behind the plate, and will probably receive most of his playing time at left field or at designated hitter. Gattis served as Atlanta's primary catcher last season following the departure of Brian McCann, but was expected to transition to the outfield in 2015 to allow rookie Christian Bethancourt to take over behind the plate.

POSTION PLAYER
2B Jose Altuve
CF Dexter Fowler (S)
RF George Springer
DH Chris Carter
C Jason Castro (L)
LF Evan Gattis
SS Jed Lowrie (S)
1B Jon Singleton (L)
3B Matt Dominguez


The Braves are expected to receive right-hander Mike Foltynewicz, third baseman Rio Ruiz and right-hander Andrew Thurman in exchange for the burly Texas native.

Foltynewicz, a first-round pick in 2010, spent the majority of 2014 in the Pacific Coast League, where he fashioned a 5.08 ERA over 18 starts and three relief appearances while notching 102 strikeouts in 102 2/3 innings. The 23-year-old wields an overpowering fastball and will likely contend for the final spot in the Braves' rotation this spring.

Ruiz could open the 2015 season in Double-A after enjoying a fine campaign with the High-A Lancaster JetHawks last summer. The 20-year-old California native hit .293/.387/.436 with 11 home runs and 37 doubles over 131 games in 2014, and was recently ranked Houston's eighth-best prospect by Baseball America.

Thurman's first full season as a professional wasn't quite as impressive, as the young hurler fashioned a 5.38 ERA with a 1.41 WHIP over 115 1/3 innings in the Midwest League. But the 23-year-old still recorded 107 strikeouts while allowing just nine homers over 115 1/3 frames.

Last edited on Thu Jan 15th, 2015 01:11 am by lobo316

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Imagine if you could buy a ticket now that would entitle you to use it for any single game in your favorite team's future.

If your team is the Milwaukee Brewers, you're in luck.

In late October, the team announced it would sell 1,000 "Timeless Tickets" for $1,000 each. They come in 1-pound bronze tickets with the owners' names engraved on them.

On Tuesday, as the offer went online for the first time, the team announced that it would add another nine timeless tickets to each deal, which would be redeemable for any regular-season game in the team's future, except for Opening Day games.


This morning we announced new benefits to the #Brewers Timeless Ticket: http://t.co/4z1DubXVIS pic.twitter.com/xGVciwcBor

— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) January 13, 2015

The original bronze ticket is good for any single game, including say, a World Series home game at Miller Park, or whatever stadium the Brewers happen to be playing in should they return to the Fall Classic. The team's only appearance came in 1982.

The idea is the brainchild of Brewers chief operating officer Rick Schlesinger.

"I was at the post office and got caught up with the idea of forever stamps," Schlesinger said. "So I wondered what we could do to offer our fans something where we could give them the promise of being able to go to any game."

Schlesinger said there wasn't much debate about the price.

"We obviously had to account for what the most expensive ticket would go for, a World Series Game 7," Schlesinger said. "But we also didn't want it to be completely out of reach."

Schlesinger said the team has sold 240 timeless tickets so far, which he is pleased with given that, until this week, it was just a soft launch.

When fans want to redeem their timeless tickets, they have to notify the box office as soon as they know.

"I can't promise that we'd be able to accommodate a person who calls up on the morning of Game 7 of a World Series, but we'll try."

The Brewers have been in the top half of league attendance -- measured by average fans per game -- for eight straight seasons.

Major League Baseball is the only major sports league that offers a lifetime pass to all games. But you can't buy it. The card gives any player manager, coach or umpire with at least eight years of service free admission for two seats to any regular-season game of their choice for life.

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The A's acquired ss Yunel Escobar on Saturday... Trade him today to Washington for P Tyler Clippard

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lobo316 wrote: The Pirates are reportedly on the verge of finalizing a four-year deal with Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang, who will head to Pittsburgh later this week for a physical exam, according to MLB.com's Tom Singer.

Jim Bowden of ESPN reported Monday afternoon that Kang's deal with the Pirates is worth approximately $16 million and includes an option for a fifth season. An earlier report indicated much of Kang's salary could be based on performance incentives.

Should Kang pass his physical Thursday, the 27-year-old would become the first position player to transition from the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) to the major leagues.

The Pirates would also be obligated to pay the KBO's Nexen Heroes a sum of $5,002,015 - the value of the bid submitted to acquire exclusive negotiating rights with Kang - once they finalize a deal with the five-time KBO All-Star.


 

 

Shortstop Jung-ho Kang doesn't lack confidence.

The Korean is en route to Pittsburgh to finalize a four-year deal with the Pirates and has his sights set on being the Opening day shortstop.

"If I get an opportunity to play consistently, I think I can play better (than Jordy Mercer)," Kang told the Yonhap News Agency prior to boarding a flight to the United States. "I think I'll have to talk about my position, but I'd like to play shortstop."

Mercer, who slashed .255/.305/.387 with 12 homers and 55 RBIs in his first season as an everyday shortstop, took the high road Wednesday when responding to Kang's comments.

"It's good to see he's got confidence coming in," Mercer said. "All of us can can use that, for sure. If we all set our sights on one goal and have confidence in our ability, the sky is the limit for this team. So, it's exciting to see."

Kang, a five-time All-Star in the Korean Baseball Organization, belted 40 home runs with a 1.198 OPS over 117 games in 2014.

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New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner is pleased with the job general manager Brian Cashman has done this offseason on the heels of the team's second consecutive year without a playoff berth.

While the Yankees haven't made a major splash for any of the top consensus free agents, Cashman has made the team younger, better defensively and improved the bullpen, despite the loss of closer David Robertson.

But Steinbrenner does admit to being worried about the club's starting pitching, although it's worth noting that two of the top free agent arms in Max Scherzer and James Shields remain unsigned.

From Ken Davidoff of the New York Post:

"I think if there's one concern, it's our starting rotation - not because of their ability, but because of their health," Steinbrenner said. "Now, everybody's going to come healthy. It's just a question of not having what we had last year, which is not having four guys out by the All-Star break. That's going to pose a problem to any team."

The Yankees' rotation was decimated by injuries last season. Ivan Nova made four starts before undergoing Tommy John surgery; C.C. Sabathia's season was shut down after eight starts; Michael Pineda missed nearly four months, while Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka went down just prior to the All-Star break and was out for two months after emerging as one of the game's most dominating pitchers.

Nova won't be ready for the start of the season, but the others are expected to be part of an Opening Day rotation that will also feature recently acquired flamethrower Nathan Eovaldi, who should help ease the loss of right-hander Hiroki Kuroda.

New York's five-man staff out of spring training could look like this (2014 stats):

PITCHER                 IP           K/BB     ERA   WHIP
Masahiro Tanaka   136.1      141/21   2.77    1.06
C.C. Sabathia         46.0       48/10    5.28    1.48
Michael Pineda       76.1       59/7      1.89     0.83
Nathan Eovaldi     199.2     142/43    4.37     1.33
Chris Capuano       97.1      84/34     4.35     1.39


The biggest concern is Tanaka, who partially tore his ulnar collateral ligament, leading many to think Tommy John surgery is inevitable. But if he holds up, he'll power a capable rotation that will be even stronger once Nova is ready to return.

Cashman also acquired shortstop Didi Gregorius, brought back third baseman Chase Headley, outfielder Chris Young, infielder Stephen Drew and traded for first baseman/designated hitter Garrett Jones. The Yankees will also see the return of disgraced slugger Alex Rodriguez, who missed the entire 2014 season following a performance-enhancing drug suspension.

There has been a lot of turnover in the Bronx - including the addition of hard-throwing lefty reliever Andrew Miller - and while the Yankees won't be viewed as favorites by many, save for a bold move, the team has made legitimate improvements.

"I think Cash did a great job," Steinbrenner said.

Last edited on Thu Jan 15th, 2015 05:10 pm by lobo316

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Chicago White Sox fans now have added incentive to purchase tickets for May 23rd's contest versus the Minnesota Twins.

The White Sox will retire Paul Konerko's No. 14 prior to the game, the team announced Thursday.

“Paul Konerko is one of the greatest players in White Sox history not only for his strength and performance on the field, but also for his heart and leadership off the field,” White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. “Paul was a humble leader whose passion for the game earned the respect and love of the entire clubhouse and fans all over the country. We honor Paul by retiring his number and welcoming him to the ranks of White Sox legends.”

Konerko enjoyed a 16-year tenure with the White Sox, leading them to a World Series title in 2005. His 432 home runs are second-most in club history behind Hall of Famer Frank Thomas.

The first 20,000 fans who attend the game will receive a replica Paul Konerko statue.

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When the Philadelphia Phillies selected right-hander Aaron Nola with the seventh pick of the 2014 draft, assistant general manager of amateur scouting Marti Wolever was optimistic the 21-year-old could reach the major leagues "within a couple of years."

Nola's arrival in Philadelphia could come much sooner than expected, however, as the Louisiana State University product will attend spring training with the major-league club and should contend for a spot in the rotation, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.

"Definitely excited," said Nola, who received a $3.3-million signing bonus from the Phillies. "I'm ready to meet those guys and be around those veterans and get their input on the game and pick their brains."

Lauded for his plus command and pitchability, Nola crafted a 2.93 ERA with a 4.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 11 starts and one relief appearance between High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading in 2014. Though he isn't projected to be a frontline starter, Nola is already a polished hurler with a three-pitch repertoire that should enable him to find success quickly in the majors.

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The St. Louis Cardinals reportedly agreed to a three-year, $22-million deal with right-hander Lance Lynn on Thursday, buying out the 27-year-old's three seasons of arbitration eligibility, reported Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Lynn quietly emerged over the last three seasons as one of the most reliable starters in the National League before elevating his game considerably in 2014. The 6-foot-5 hurler crafted a career-best 2.74 ERA (134 ERA+) with a 1.26 WHIP over 33 starts for the Cardinals, and was subsequently projected to earn $5.5 million through arbitration next season.

Though he was already under team control through 2017, Lynn's new deal with the Cardinals ensures no arbitration hearings will take place over the next three seasons. His contract also affords him some job security while protecting the Cardinals from the possibility of watching his salary escalate dramatically through arbitration.

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Benlen wrote: The A's acquired ss Yunel Escobar on Saturday... Trade him today to Washington for P Tyler Clippard

 

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Thursday thatYunel Escobar was not acquired to replace impending free agent Ian Desmond.

"(Desmond) will be our shortstop," Rizzo told reporters a day after trading reliever Tyler Clippard to the Oakland Athletics for Escobar. Rizzo added that he would need to be blown away by an offer to deal Desmond.

The Nationals' power-hitting shortstop has been the subject of trade speculation this winter after reportedly turning down a seven-year, $107-million extension in 2013. Desmond is a free agent at the end of this season.

Desmond, 29, has hit more home runs (69) than any shortstop in baseball since 2012, while providing solid value defensively and on the base paths. He did, however, experience a decline in his batting rates last season, hitting a personal-low .255 with on-base (.313) and slugging (.430) percentages below his career averages.

Escobar, who was traded by the Athletics just four days after being dealt by the Tampa Bay Rays, is expected to compete for the second base job this spring, barring another trade. 

Rizzo said he believes Escobar regressed defensively last season due to shoulder and quad injuries associated with the turf in Tampa Bay.

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Baseball's annual midsummer classic will head back to the west coast in 2016, as the 87th edition of the MLB All-Star Game will take place at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres.

It's official! Get ready San Diego...we're getting an All-Star Game! #ASG pic.twitter.com/2zWTP6ZP5R

— San Diego Padres (@Padres) January 15, 2015

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The New York Yankees avoided arbitration with right-hander Ivan Nova by agreeing to a one-year contract, the team announced Wednesday.

Nova, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and eyeing a June return to the mound, was projected to earn $3.3 million through the arbitration process and will earn that exact number in 2015, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

The 28-year-old hurler should provide the Bronx Bombers some much-needed rotation help. Nova has spent his entire five-year career in New York, posting a 40-22 record with a 4.20 ERA in 93 appearances.

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HOUSTON - The Astros have agreed with Chris Carter on a one-year contract for $4,175,000, avoiding arbitration with the designated hitter.

Carter tied for second in the majors with a career-high 37 homers last season. The 28-year-old hit .227 with 88 RBIs, which also were the most of his career. It was his second season in Houston after a trade from the Oakland Athletics.

Carter spent 118 games at designated hitter and started 14 games at first base and six in the outfield.

He made just $510,000 last season, and Wednesday's deal includes several award bonuses, among them $25,000 for being named to the All-Star game and $25,000 if he wins a Silver Slugger award.

Other arbitration eligible players for Houston are catchers Jason Castro, Hank Conger and Carlos Corporan, outfielder Dexter Fowler, shortstop Marwin Gonzalez and left-handed reliever Tony Sipp.

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CLEVELAND -- Former Minnesota Twins right-hander Anthony Swarzak has agreed to a minor league contract with the Indians.

The 29-year-old free agent spent his third consecutive season with the Twins in 2014, going 3-2 with a 4.60 ERA in four starts and 46 relief appearances. He became a free agent in November when he refused an outright assignment to Triple-A Rochester of the International League.

Swarzak had been with the Twins his entire professional career after his second-round selection in the 2004 amateur draft. His 237 1-3 innings of relief are the second-most in the major leagues since 2012.

Swarzak's best season was 2013, when he was 3-2 with a 2.91 ERA in 48 games.

His agreement was announced Thursday.

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The Toronto Blue Jays have signed outfielder Andy Dirks to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, the team announced Thursday.

This will be Dirks's second stint with the Blue Jays, who claimed him on waivers in October but later non-tendered him.

Dirks missed the entire 2014 campaign after undergoing surgery to repair a lower-back issue, but slashed a respectable .256/.323/.363 the year prior with the Detroit Tigers.

Dirks will provide depth for manager John Gibbons in the outfield behind Jose Bautista, Dalton Pompey, Kevin Pillar and Michael Saunders.

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The Steinbrenners are like the Maras and Tisches and the York punk-kids who have no business being in the family business.  To say Cashman has done an exceptional job is just ridiculous.

Evan Gattis was a fan favorite here in ATL and I do like the Braves. There's no way that the team can sell this season as trying to put the best product on the field. I don't think I'd even go for a free ticket this year as they just look awful.

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Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo has had enough of occupying the basement of the National League Central.

The 25-year-old has spent three of his four major league seasons on Chicago's North Side and has a been a part of a trio of fifth-place finishes.

However, the combination of top up-and-coming prospects in Jorge Soler and Javier Baez, paired with the marquee free-agent signing of Jon Lester, Rizzo sees the winds of change blowing through Wrigley Field and is breathing them in.

“I mean it’s going to happen this year. It’s what we’re going to do,” Rizzo told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times. “We’re going to win the NL Central.”

Rizzo knows his prediction is brash, but he doesn't care. He believes in the talent that the Cubs have acquired and built from within and has no issue setting the bar at its highest peek.

“We should be the team," Rizzo said. "With all due respect to every other team (in the division) – they’re just as good talent-wise. But we’re going to do some things this year. That’s what we’re expecting, that’s what we’re going to put our sights on, and we’re not going to settle for anything less.”

The St. Louis Cardinals claimed the division crown last season with 90 wins – a number the Cubs haven't reached since a 97-win campaign in 2008.

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Alex Rodriguez has never lacked confidence.

The New York Yankees' 39-year-old designated hitter isn't giving up on the notion that he's a third baseman and will play the position this season in the Bronx.

Rodriguez, according to a Newsday report, believes the job is his to lose, even though the club signed Chase Headley to man the hot corner.

An unnamed source cited by Newsday's Steven Marcus said:

Alex's mind is that job's not Headley's, it's Alex's to lose. That's what he thinks. Alex is going into training camp thinking that he is the starting third baseman, that if there's a competition, Headley's got to win it from him. It doesn't matter about the money, what they signed Headley for. This guy (Rodriguez) can play.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in response:

We signed our third baseman, but Alex has to come in to compete for as much playing time as he can possibly get, so I would expect him to come in to be a two-way player, which is offense and defense.

Rodriguez is reportedly working out seven days a week in Florida and is in – wait for it – the best shape of his life. He's expected to report to spring training before Feb. 25, when players are required to be there.

Newsday's source added:

Alex learned a lot in the last year, and by the time he gets back on the field, it will almost be a year and a half. He's changed as a person. He's put his head down and he's working hard because he wants to play the game and respects the game, and he knows that he made some mistakes and the best way to atone for that is to just put your head down and go.

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Nori Aoki will reportedly suit up next season for the team he played against in the World Series just a few months ago, as the 33-year-old outfielder agreed Friday to a one-year, $4.7-million deal with the San Francisco Giants, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Aoki will earn $4 million - plus performance incentives - in 2015 with a $700,000 buyout on a club option for the following season. Though Aoki reportedly received multi-year offers from other clubs, the Japanese expatriate was enamored with San Francisco and eager to play for a contender.

Aoki, who made his MLB debut with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2012 after eight season in Japan, is expected to log plenty of innings in left field next season, where he'll likely compete for playing time with Gregor Blanco. The two players, however, share astonishingly similar offensive profiles and have produced at nearly identical levels over the last two seasons.

NAME                AVG    OBP     SLG     WRC+ WAR
Gregor Blanco  0.263  0.337   0.361     103 4.9
Nori Aoki         0.286   0.353   0.366     103 3.9

Last edited on Fri Jan 16th, 2015 09:34 pm by lobo316

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The New York Yankees finalized a one-year deal with infielder Stephen Drew on Friday.

Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed, but CBS Sports' Jon Heyman believes Drew's salary is in the $5-million range, and he can earn up to $7 million with incentives (see stack below).

Drew transitioned to second base from shortstop for the Yankees last year, and slashed a disappointing .150/.219/.271 in 46 games. He will likely remain at second base with the acquisition of Didi Gregorius.

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The baseball world is holding its collective breath as Max Scherzer decides his future. Detroit Tigers general manager and president Dave Dombrowski is over it.

"I would say no, probably not," Dombrowski said about bringing back Scherzer. "We've been in a situation where we're pretty well set with our starting pitching. We've got five starters we're comfortable (with). I guess you never tell what happens, but we're not in any type of active pursuit of any other pitching right now."

Scherzer turned down a six-year, $144-million extension from the Tigers last spring, and is reportedly seeking a deal in the $200-million range this winter. Scherzer's agent, Scott Boras, is notorious for waiting deep into the winter in order to maximize value for his clients.

Scherzer, 30, has compiled a 91-50 record with a 3.58 ERA over seven seasons and was the American League Cy Young Award winner in 2013.

The New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals are believed to be the front-runners for Scherzer's services.

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lobo316 wrote: Nori Aoki will reportedly suit up next season for the team he played against in the World Series just a few months ago, as the 33-year-old outfielder agreed Friday to a one-year, $4.7-million deal with the San Francisco Giants, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Aoki will earn $4 million - plus performance incentives - in 2015 with a $700,000 buyout on a club option for the following season. Though Aoki reportedly received multi-year offers from other clubs, the Japanese expatriate was enamored with San Francisco and eager to play for a contender.

Aoki, who made his MLB debut with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2012 after eight season in Japan, is expected to log plenty of innings in left field next season, where he'll likely compete for playing time with Gregor Blanco. The two players, however, share astonishingly similar offensive profiles and have produced at nearly identical levels over the last two seasons.

NAME                AVG    OBP     SLG     WRC+ WAR
Gregor Blanco  0.263  0.337   0.361     103 4.9
Nori Aoki         0.286   0.353   0.366     103 3.9

YUCK!!!!

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lobo316 wrote: The baseball world is holding its collective breath as Max Scherzer decides his future. Detroit Tigers general manager and president Dave Dombrowski is over it.

"I would say no, probably not," Dombrowski said about bringing back Scherzer. "We've been in a situation where we're pretty well set with our starting pitching. We've got five starters we're comfortable (with). I guess you never tell what happens, but we're not in any type of active pursuit of any other pitching right now."

Scherzer turned down a six-year, $144-million extension from the Tigers last spring, and is reportedly seeking a deal in the $200-million range this winter. Scherzer's agent, Scott Boras, is notorious for waiting deep into the winter in order to maximize value for his clients.

Scherzer, 30, has compiled a 91-50 record with a 3.58 ERA over seven seasons and was the American League Cy Young Award winner in 2013.

The New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals are believed to be the front-runners for Scherzer's services.

I really hope the Yankees don't blow all this money on another pitcher who will suck in 3 years, especially when we still desperately need offense.

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Pitcher David Price has agreed Friday to a one-year deal with the Detroit Tigers for $19.75 million, according to multiple media outlets.

The agreement, which has yet to be announced, is the largest one-year deal for a player who filed for arbitration, topping Max Scherzer's $15,525,000 agreement with the Tigers last year.

Price, who avoided arbitration, went 15-12 with a 3.26 ERA and a league-leading 271 strikeouts in 2014 with the Tampa Bay Rays and Tigers, who acquired him in a three-team trade July 31.

The move paid dividends for the Tigers when Price held Minnesota scoreless in a division-clinching victory on the final day of the regular season. Detroit won the AL Central for a fourth consecutive year.

The left-hander, who will become a free agent after the 2015 season, made $14 million last season and was the AL Cy Young Award winner for the Rays in 2012.

Price will be a big part of Detroit's attempt to defend its spot atop the division, which looks increasingly tenuous after Kansas City went to the World Series as a wild card last year and the Chicago White Sox made a few significant moves this offseason. Cleveland could also be a threat with its promising rotation.

He is part of the Tigers' star-studded rotation that also includes Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez, although the Tigers traded Rick Porcello this offseason and may lose Scherzer to free agency.

Scherzer remains on the open market, and the Tigers have already shuffled their rotation a bit more. They acquired right-hander Shane Greene from the New York Yankees, and Alfredo Simon was traded from Cincinnati to Detroit last month.

Outfielder J.D. Martinez and right-handers Al Alburquerque and Simon were the other Detroit players eligible for arbitration.

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WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals have agreed to a $7.4 million, one-year contract and avoided salary arbitration.

Washington also agreed Friday to one-year deals with starter Doug Fister ($11.4 million) and reliever Drew Storen ($5.7 million).

Strasburg went 14-11 with a 3.14 ERA last year, and his 242 strikeouts tied for the NL lead. He made $4.1 million.

The 2009 No. 1 overall draft pick is 43-30 with 3.02 ERA over parts of five seasons.

Fister went 16-6 last year with a 2.41 ERA.

Storen regained the closer's job late in the season and finished with 11 saves and a 1.12 ERA.

Washington agreed Thursday with catcher Wilson Ramos ($3.55 million), right-hander Craig Stammen ($2.25 million). Second baseman Danny Espinosa ($1.8 million) and backup catcher Jose Lobaton ($1.2 million).

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Here's a "scouting report" on Scherzer: great arm, gets you into the 7th inning, no further. Like Verlander, he doesn't pitch to contact.

You might say he has this strikeout fetish or something....throws way too many pitches, herky jerky delivery is a guarantee of extended time on the DL.

I hope the Tigers don't re-sign him!

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The Washington Nationals are proof the best teams on paper don't always win. But that's not stopping general manager Mike Rizzo from assembling a roster chock full of talent.

Washington added to its abundance of star power Sunday, with multiple reports saying the club has agreed to a seven-year deal with free-agent pitcher Max Scherzer. Financial terms of the deal were not immediately known, but the contract will likely be the richest deal in franchise history and the largest ever awarded to a free-agent pitcher.

A source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the deal will be worth more than $180 million.


Scherzer joins a remarkable Nationals rotation that currently includes Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, though it appears increasingly unlikely those five will comprise the club's Opening Day staff. Zimmermann and Fister are both entering the final year of their contracts, and the former has been subject to persistent trade rumors this winter.

Rosenthal's colleague Jon Morosi indicated Sunday that the Nationals are also willing to listen to offers for Strasburg, who remains under club control for two more seasons.

Scherzer, meanwhile, appears destined to be the second-richest pitcher in baseball behind Clayton Kershaw and the $215-million extension he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers last winter.

YEAR  IP        SO   ERA  WHIP
2010  195.2  184  3.50  1.25
2011  195     174  4.43  1.35
2012  187.2  231  3.74  1.27
2013  214.1  240  2.90  0.97
2014  220.1  252  3.15  1.18


Scherzer has established himself as one of the top arms in baseball since joining the Detroit Tigers in a three-way trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks during the 2009 offseason. The hard-throwing right-hander has averaged 203 innings per year over the last five seasons and boasts the fifth-highest strikeout rate over that stretch. His 723 strikeouts since 2012 leads all major-league pitchers.

The 2013 Cy Young Award winner was considered the top free agent available this winter after posting his second consecutive 200-inning season. He joins a Nationals team that won a National League-best 96 games in 2014, but suffered its second early-round playoff exit in three years.

Nevertheless, the Nationals are set to enter the 2015 season as prohibitive World Series favorites. Washington's rotation - whether it includes Zimmermann, Strasburg or Tanner Roark - projects to be the top staff in baseball.

Scherzer, 30, was considered a long shot to return to Detroit after rejecting a six-year, $144-million extension last spring. Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski conceded as much Friday, saying the club was unlikely to pursue the right-hander.

Instead, Scherzer's career now comes full circle. Sunday's signing reunites him with Rizzo, who drafted Scherzer in 2006 while serving as the vice president of scouting for the Diamondbacks.

Last edited on Mon Jan 19th, 2015 05:21 pm by lobo316

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The St. Louis Cardinals will wear a patch on their jerseys this season featuring the initials of outfielder Oscar Taveras, the team announced Sunday.

Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. said the black patch will be inscribed with the letters "OT" and be added to the sleeve of the Cardinals' 2015 uniforms. The club is omitting Taveras's No. 18 from the patch because right-hander Carlos Martinez has already requested to wear the number in honor of his late teammate.

Bill DeWitt Jr. announces #STLCards will honor the late Oscar Taveras wearing an OT sleeve patch in 2015. #OT18 pic.twitter.com/J3WPMuTwau

— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) January 18, 2015
DeWitt revealed the plans during the club's Winter Warm-Up event in St. Louis, which included a video tribute honoring Taveras. The team also pledged to renovate a baseball field in Taveras's hometown of Sousa, Dominican Republic.

"(It will) give the young kids down there a chance to dream like Oscar did of someday playing in the big leagues and getting their start on that field," DeWitt said, according to MLB.com. "There was so much outreach and a tremendous following for Oscar down there, I think this will be a nice symbol of what he meant to that area, and I think it's the appropriate place to do it."

Taveras and his girlfriend were killed in a car accident Oct. 26. It was later revealed that Taveras had high blood-alcohol content in his system at the time of the crash, marking the second time in franchise history a player was killed while driving intoxicated. Police said former Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock was drunk at the time of his fatal car crash in 2007.

"We'll make a special effort to do even more in the future," DeWitt said, in reference to the club's plan to dedicate more time to discuss decision-making responsibilities during spring training. "Some of the ... young kids come in, a lot of them, in particular the younger kids, maybe been away from home for the first time, just explain to them the responsibility program. We do that, but we'll emphasize it even more."

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The Houston Astros have traded outfielder Dexter Fowler to the Chicago Cubs for infielder Luis Valbuena and right-handed pitcher Dan Straily.

The Cubs announced the move on Monday.

Fowler, 28, hit .276 with eight home runs, 35 RBIs and 11 stolen bases in 2014, his only season with Houston. He previously played with the Colorado Rockies after debuting in the majors in 2008.

Valbuena, 29, hit .249 with 16 home runs and 51 RBIs in 149 games with the Cubs last season.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told the Houston Chronicle that Valbuena will compete for the starting job at third base.

"If a player isn't helping us win games ... we have other options," Luhnow said. "Valbuena will get a long hard look at third base."

Straily, 26, went 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA in 14 total appearances last season, which he split between the Oakland Athletics and Cubs.

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an update on the Scherzer deal



Free-agent pitcher Max Scherzer has agreed to a seven-year contract with the Washington Nationals, a source confirmed Sunday night to ESPN.com's Jim Bowden.

The deal is for $210 million with half deferred, FOX Sports reported. Scherzer reportedly will receive $15 million annually for 14 years.

A source had earlier told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that the Nationals wouldn't have the financial flexibility to sign the right-handed Scherzer unless they have a trade in place to move starter Jordan Zimmermann and possibly shortstop Ian Desmond.

As of Saturday, the source told Stark, the Nationals did not have trades in place for Zimmermann or Desmond.

The Washington Post and CBS earlier reported the deal.

Neither the Nationals nor Scherzer's agent immediately responded to requests by The Associated Press for comment Sunday night.

The NL East champion Nationals' starting rotation already includes Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister -- Scherzer's former teammate with the Tigers -- Gio Gonzalez, and Tanner Roark.

Scherzer, 30, is a career 91-50 with a 3.58 ERA in seven seasons with Arizona and Detroit. He won the 2013 American League Cy Young Award and has made the All-Star team in each of the past two seasons.

He was 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 2014, a year after going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA and being voted the best pitcher in the American League.

He turned down an offer from Detroit this past March that would have paid him $144 million from 2015-20.

During the winter meetings in San Diego last month, agent Scott Boras gave indications that he was seeking a record payout for Scherzer.

The Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw ($215 million), Detroit's Justin Verlander ($180 million) and Seattle's Felix Hernandez ($175 million) have signed the three biggest deals by starting pitchers in baseball history. But they all agreed to extensions before hitting the open market.

"All the prominent pitchers who've signed were not free-agent players," Boras said in San Diego. "If you put a pitcher like Kershaw into the free-agent market, you're going to get a much different calibration and value. I'm not sure Kershaw's [contract] is relevant.''

Reports from multiple media outlets Sunday said the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tigers -- high-profile clubs that have been linked to Scherzer in speculation throughout the winter -- were not among the finalists to sign him.

Scherzer has spent the past five seasons in Detroit after he was traded there by the Arizona Diamondbacks following the 2009 season.

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The Washington Nationals are the favorites to win the 2015 World Series.

Already armed with arguably the best rotation in the majors, the Nationals reportedly inked Max Scherzer to a seven-year deal on Sunday and come in at 7/1 odds to claim the first championship in the organization's 46 year existence.

One of the most active offseasons in league history has seen the odds shift dramatically since the San Francisco Giants claimed their third title in five years back in October, with the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, San Diego Padres, Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays seeing the most dramatic swings.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers acquired pitching depth Sunday by agreeing to terms on a minor-league contract with left-hander Erik Bedard, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.

Bedard, who turns 36 in March, made 15 starts for the Tampa Bay Rays last year, crafting a 4.76 ERA and 1.49 WHIP in 75 2/3 innings. It will mark the sixth team Bedard has played for over the last five years.

The oft-injured pitcher managed to stay healthy last season, but his struggles resulted in his August release. His deal with the Dodgers includes an invitation to spring training, though it's unlikely he'll break camp as a member of the rotation with the Los Angeles pitching staff all but set.

Bedard owns a career ERA of 3.99 with an 8.6 K/9 rate during his 11 seasons in the league.

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Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is taking another shot on reliever Daniel Bard.

The two sides have reportedly agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League spring training, according to Mike Perchick of WAPT.

Epstein was the general manager of the Boston Red Sox when they selected Bard with the 28th pick of the 2006 draft.

Bard was considered one of the best set-up men in the majors in 2010 after posting a 1.93 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 74 2/3 innings, but saw his career derailed two years later when converted to a starter. Bard recorded a 6.22 ERA and 1.74 WHIP in 17 appearances before eventually being placed on waivers.

The 29-year-old was claimed by the Cubs shortly after. He was non-tendered three months later without making an appearance.

Bard, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2013, stated last week that he is excited about how he has been throwing the ball this offseason and is eager to make a return to the majors.

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The Texas Rangers finalized a widely reported trade with the Milwaukee Brewers for right-hander Yovani Gallardo on Monday afternoon, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

Gallardo, who was drafted out of a Fort Worth high school in 2004, will head back to Texas after an eight-year stint with the Brewers in exchange for infielder Luis Sardinas, reliever Corey Knebel and 18-year-old right-hander Marcos Diplan, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. The two clubs agreed to a deal "in principle" hours earlier, reported Joel Sherman of the New York Post, but both teams needed to complete a medical review before the swap could be finalized.

According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Brewers will also send $4 million to the Rangers to defray a portion of Gallardo's 2015 salary.

Though Gallardo is set to become a free agent next winter, he will nevertheless be tasked this upcoming season with helping to reverse the fortunes of a club that stumbled through an injury-marred 2014 campaign wherein the Rangers used 64 different players and compiled a 67-95 record.

Gallardo isn't as dominant as he once was - his whiff rates and strikeout numbers have tumbled significantly over the last two seasons - but the 28-year-old boasts a 3.84 ERA (100 ERA+) since 2013 and induces groundballs at a very high rate.

The Brewers, meanwhile, added depth to their infield and bullpen while also acquiring a talented prospect who ranked among the top pitchers in the international amateur class last July.

Sardinas, a switch-hitting 21-year-old, hit .261/.303/.313 with five stolen bases over 43 games with the Rangers last season while spending time at shortstop, second base and third base. The Venezuela native could serve as a platoon partner for second baseman Scooter Gennett in 2015.

Like Sardinas, Knebel also made his MLB debut in 2014, logging eight relief appearance for the Detroit Tigers before getting shipped to Texas in July for reliever Joakim Soria. The 23-year-old spent the majority of the season in the minors, though, where he fashioned a 2.18 ERA while averaging 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings across 34 appearances.

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One day after trading Dexter Fowler to the Chicago Cubs, the Houston Astros acquired his replacement.

Colby Rasmus agreed to a one-year deal with the Astros on Tuesday that's reportedly worth $8 million, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

Rasmus spent the last three-plus seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays and is coming off the worst statistical season of his six-year career. In 104 games, he slashed .225/.287/.448 with 18 home runs and 124 strikeouts.

He missed 68 games with oblique and hamstring injuries over the past two seasons and claimed that he's eager to get off the artificial turf at Rogers Centre. Rasmus also cited his desire to sign with a team closer to his home in Alabama as to why the Astros were a fit.

"I play hard and I would like to get back on some grass," Rasmus told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. "The turf in Toronto was pretty rough playing up there. Being in this division to be able to stay in some [warmer] climates and my brother is playing with the Angels and to be able to see him on some trips is pretty cool.

"To be in Texas and in the south - some people think that's crazy - but it would be a beautiful thing to be close to home. I live nine hours away and all those things would help me be a better ballplayer and be relaxed and comfortable, and some of the guys on the team I know are great guys who I've played against."

The 28-year-old has shown flashes over his career of why he was a first-round pick, but he's never been able to put it all together consistently. Rasmus plays Gold Glove-caliber defense and has plenty of pop from the left side of the plate - hitting 63 home runs and 68 doubles in 373 games over the past three seasons - though is prone to striking out.

Rasmus had been heavily linked to the Baltimore Orioles earlier in the month, but talks cooled after he reportedly requested a one-year deal worth around $7 million.

The acquisition of Rasmus likely keeps George Springer in right field, while Evan Gattis will start in left.

In a corresponding move, the Astros designated catcher Carlos Corporan for assignment to create a spot for Rasmus on the 40-man roster.

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Eager to curb baseball's increasingly laborious game time, Major League Baseball recently submitted a proposal designed to shorten the amount of time between innings, sources told ESPN's Jayson Stark.

The league's proposal stipulates that pitchers would be required to finish their warm-up pitches 30 seconds before the conclusion of the commercial breaks between innings, while hitters would be required to be in the batter's box 20 seconds before returning from commercial.

League officials reportedly believe that game time could be shortened by 10 to 15 minutes if play is ready to resume immediately after television broadcasts return from commercial breaks. Discussions with the players union, however, are expected to continue for the next several weeks.

Though the league considered implementing a 20-second pitch clock to hasten pace of play, such a measure won't be instituted at the major-league level in 2015.

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MIAMI - The Miami Marlins and utilityman Don Kelly have agreed to terms on a minor league contract.

Kelly saw time primarily as a first baseman, third baseman and outfielder last season for the Detroit Tigers, batting .245 with seven RBIs in 163 at-bats.

Kelly has spent parts of seven seasons in the majors with Pittsburgh and Detroit, batting .234 with 23 home runs and 95 RBIs in 570 games.

Kelly turns 35 on Feb. 15, just before the Marlins open spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

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The New York Yankees traded right-hander Gonzalez Germen to the Texas Rangers for cash Tuesday afternoon, one week after designating the 27-year-old for assignment.

Germen's stint with the Yankees lasted just a few weeks, as the right-hander was acquired by the club in December through a trade with the New York Mets.

Germen fashioned a 4.75 ERA with a 1.45 WHIP across 25 appearances for the Mets last season, yielding seven home runs while notching 31 strikeouts over 30 1/3 innings. Armed with a fastball that sits around 94 miles per hour and an impressive changeup, Germen will likely compete for a late-inning role with the Rangers in spring training.

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SEATTLE - Playing baseball in Seattle just became more energy efficient, after the Mariners announced they have become the first major league team to install LED lights to illuminate the playing field.

The Mariners announced the lighting change Tuesday. The replacement of the previous metal halide fixtures was completed this month and the new stadium lighting will be in use during the club's annual FanFest this weekend.

Major League Baseball supported Seattle's lighting transition and the club estimates 60 to 70 percent less energy consumption for lighting Safeco Field by making the switch.

Safeco Field is not the first stadium to go the LED route. NRG Stadium in Houston, University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, and Staples Center in Los Angeles are among other venues that have made the switch.

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8 million for Colby Rasmus? Hopefully one of those 8 is to his Dad on the proviso he never sets foot in Texas - we Cardinals fans had the pleasure already.

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Embattled New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has reportedly received some pointers this offseason from (arguably) history's greatest baseball player as he attempts to revive his career following a year-long suspension.

According to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, Rodriguez has spent time this offseason working out with Barry Bonds, the all-time home run leader who also served as a guest instructor for the San Francisco Giants during spring training last season.

Sources said Rodriguez, who last appeared in an MLB game in September of 2013, "looked good" after a couple of weeks with Bonds at the Future Prospects facility in San Rafael. Rodriguez, however, will turn 40 in July, and it remains unclear how much playing time he'll receive with the Yankees in 2015.

Over 44 games in 2013, Rodriguez hit .244/.348/.423 (113 wRC+) with seven home runs and a 12.7 percent walk rate with the Yankees.

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Pete Rose, who was famously denied entry to Cooperstown after being banned from Major League Baseball, voiced his support Tuesday for a pair of players whose connections to performance-enhancing drugs have, to this point, likely kept them out of the Hall of Fame as well.

"Would I vote for Roger Clemens? You're damn right I would," Rose told Reuters in a telephone interview. "Would I vote for Barry Bonds? You're damn right I would. These guys are seven-time MVPs, seven-time Cy Young Award winner."

Rose applied for reinstatement with the league in 1997, eight years after he agreed to a lifetime ban following an investigation that determined he bet on games during his tenure as manager of the Cincinnati Reds. Though Rose was not reinstated by Bud Selig, a new commissioner, Rob Manfred, is set to take over Jan. 25, renewing hope that baseball's all-time hits leaders may get to join his peers in Cooperstown.

"I'd say congratulations to Bud for the job he did, and wish Mr. Manfred nothing but success in carrying on what Bud was trying to do to bring fans to the ball park," Rose said.

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The Texas Rangers have acquired some much needed catching depth with some help from their division rivals.

Carlos Corporan is reportedly heading to the Rangers from the Houston Astros, according to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.

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The San Francisco Giants designated Marco Scutaro for assignment on Tuesday, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Scutaro's spot on the 40-man roster was needed for recently signed outfielder Nori Aoki, though Schulman notes the Giants plan to retain the 2012 NLCS MVP.

The 39-year-old was limited to five games last season as a result of a back injury that eventually led to surgery in December. Scutaro is expected to need four-to-six months to recover.

The 13-year veteran has spent the last two-plus seasons with the Giants, hitting .315/.363/.399 with five home runs and 39 doubles in 193 games while appearing at both second and third base.

Rookie Joe Panik emerged as a viable option at second base during Scutaro's absence last season. The 24-year-old old hit .305/.343/.368 in 73 games and is projected to feature regularly in the lineup in 2015.

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Don't call it a comeback. For now, it's only an invitation.

Dontrelle Willis will attempt to revive his major league career this spring after reportedly agreeing to terms with the Milwaukee Brewers on a minor-league contract. The deal includes an invitation to spring training, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.

Willis, 33, hasn't pitched in the majors since 2011 as a member of the Cincinnati Reds, struggling to a 5.00 ERA and 4.4 BB/9 rate across 13 starts. The two-time All-Star has since signed several minor-league deals but failed to parlay any of those opportunities into an active roster spot.

For a brief period at the beginning of his career, Willis was among the premier lefties in baseball.

The 2003 Rookie of the Year posted a 3.78 ERA in five seasons with the Florida Marlins, averaging 205 innings per year and wracking up 15 complete games. He finished second in Cy Young voting in 2005 after leading the league in wins (22), complete games (seven) and shutouts (five).

Most recently, Willis toyed with the idea of transitioning to a pitching coach before signing on with the Bridgeport Bluefish in the Atlanta League last summer.

With the Brewers rotation all but set, Willis will likely compete for a bullpen role this spring.

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lobo316 wrote: Don't call it a comeback. For now, it's only an invitation.

Dontrelle Willis will attempt to revive his major league career this spring after reportedly agreeing to terms with the Milwaukee Brewers on a minor-league contract. The deal includes an invitation to spring training, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.

Willis, 33, hasn't pitched in the majors since 2011 as a member of the Cincinnati Reds, struggling to a 5.00 ERA and 4.4 BB/9 rate across 13 starts. The two-time All-Star has since signed several minor-league deals but failed to parlay any of those opportunities into an active roster spot.

For a brief period at the beginning of his career, Willis was among the premier lefties in baseball.

The 2003 Rookie of the Year posted a 3.78 ERA in five seasons with the Florida Marlins, averaging 205 innings per year and wracking up 15 complete games. He finished second in Cy Young voting in 2005 after leading the league in wins (22), complete games (seven) and shutouts (five).

Most recently, Willis toyed with the idea of transitioning to a pitching coach before signing on with the Bridgeport Bluefish in the Atlanta League last summer.

With the Brewers rotation all but set, Willis will likely compete for a bullpen role this spring.

He's done. Past 5 years he spent in the minors he's been getting bombed. ERA over 6.00

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Benlen wrote: lobo316 wrote: Don't call it a comeback. For now, it's only an invitation.

Dontrelle Willis will attempt to revive his major league career this spring after reportedly agreeing to terms with the Milwaukee Brewers on a minor-league contract. The deal includes an invitation to spring training, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.

Willis, 33, hasn't pitched in the majors since 2011 as a member of the Cincinnati Reds, struggling to a 5.00 ERA and 4.4 BB/9 rate across 13 starts. The two-time All-Star has since signed several minor-league deals but failed to parlay any of those opportunities into an active roster spot.

For a brief period at the beginning of his career, Willis was among the premier lefties in baseball.

The 2003 Rookie of the Year posted a 3.78 ERA in five seasons with the Florida Marlins, averaging 205 innings per year and wracking up 15 complete games. He finished second in Cy Young voting in 2005 after leading the league in wins (22), complete games (seven) and shutouts (five).

Most recently, Willis toyed with the idea of transitioning to a pitching coach before signing on with the Bridgeport Bluefish in the Atlanta League last summer.

With the Brewers rotation all but set, Willis will likely compete for a bullpen role this spring.

He's done. Past 5 years he spent in the minors he's been getting bombed. ERA over 6.00

How did he go from complete stud to complete shit (without a major injury, IIRC) seemingly overnight?

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The Atlanta Braves reunited with veteran infielder Kelly Johnson on Wednesday, signing the 32-year-old to a minor-league deal that includes an invitation to spring training, reports MLB.com's Mark Bowman.

Johnson, who was selected by the Braves with the 38th pick in the 2000 draft, spent the first four years of his career in Atlanta, hitting .264/.346/.430 (103 OPS+) while serving as the club's primary second baseman from 2007 to 2009.

The infielder has bounced around over the last few years, however, spending time with six different teams since 2010 while logging time at several defensive positions. Johnson spent the 2014 campaign between the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles, compiling a .659 OPS with seven home runs in 106 games.

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The Washington Nationals added another candidate Wednesday to compete for a spot in the bullpen this season, signing Evan Meek to a minor-league deal that includes an invitation to spring training, reports MLB.com's William Ladson.

Meek, an 11th-round pick in the 2002 draft, enjoyed some success with the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier in his career, but has struggled with both injuries and ineffectiveness in recent years. The 31-year-old has made just 35 appearances over the last three seasons and spent the entire 2013 campaign in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.

Meek logged 23 relief appearances with the Baltimore Orioles in 2014 after signing a minor-league deal with the club in February, crafting a 5.79 ERA with a 1.59 WHIP over 23 1/3 innings.

The Nationals, however, remain eager to bolster their bullpen after declining Rafael Soriano's contract option and trading Tyler Clippard to the Oakland Athletics earlier this month.

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Jesse Crain didn't pitch a single inning for the Houston Astros last season in a campaign marred by biceps surgery, but the right-hander will receive a chance this spring to re-establish himself with the team that employed him from 2011 to 2013.

Crain, who turns 34 in July, will receive an invitation to spring training with the Chicago White Sox - despite the fact that he hasn't thrown a pitch in the majors since June of 2013.

Crain did, however, fashion a 2.10 ERA with a 28.7 percent strikeout rate across 156 appearances with the White Sox from 2011-13. The former second-round pick earned his first career All-Star appearance for his efforts in 2013, wherein he managed a career-best 0.74 ERA in 38 outings before landing on the disabled list in June.

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The Chicago White Sox added depth behind the plate Thursday, agreeing to terms on a minor league contract with catcher Geovany Soto.

Soto's deal includes an invitation to spring training, the team announced.

The 32-year-old veteran has regressed significantly at the plate in recent years, but he remains among the more well-regarded defenders at catcher. He hit .250/.302/.363 across 24 games last season for the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics.

He's expected to compete for a place on the 25-man roster and challenge for a spot on the White Sox catching depth chart. Tyler Flowers and Adrian Nieto are currently projected to receive the majority of reps behind the plate.

The former All-Star boasts a career .770 OPS and 92 homers over his 10-year career. Soto was named 2008 Rookie of the Year as a member of the Chicago Cubs after hitting a career-high 23 homers with 86 RBI and a .285/.364/.504 slash line.

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Seattle Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik expressed disappointment when Jesus Montero arrived at spring training last February roughly 40 pounds overweight, admitting shortly thereafter that he no longer had any expectations for the fallen prospect.

Zduriencik noted Thursday that Montero has dropped the extra weight he brought with him to Arizona last spring, however, and actually seems cautiously optimistic about the 25-year-old.

"It appears maybe the light has come on for him," Zduriencik told MLB.com's Greg Johns. "He's a guy we'll take a good look at."

Montero has logged just 35 games in the major leagues since the beginning of 2013, missing considerable time due to injuries, poor performance, and a 50-game suspension - but is expected to compete this spring for a spot on the 25-man roster.

Once regarded among the game's top prospects, Montero has compiled a .258/.302/.396 line (96 OPS+) over parts of four seasons in the majors between the Mariners and New York Yankees.

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In order to feature his bat in the lineup on a more consistent basis, Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell is asking Allen Craig to get reacquainted with an old position.

Though he's expected to see most of his time at either first base or in the outfield corners, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reported that Farrell has talked to Craig about taking some reps at third base - a position he played in 246 minor league games. He's played the position only four times in the majors, and not since 2011.

The Red Sox acquired Craig at the non-waiver trade deadline last season, hoping that a change of scenery and a chance to regain his health could get him back to his previous All-Star form.

The 30-year-old struggled through 126 games in 2014, hitting .215/.279/.315 with eight home runs and 46 RBIs.

Pablo Sandoval appeared in 157 games for the San Francisco Giants a season ago, though the Red Sox could plan to use him as designated hitter this season - opening the door for Brock Holt and potentially Craig to get some time at third base.

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Three-time Cy Young winner Pedro Martinez will be inducted into Cooperstown as a member of the Boston Red Sox.

The Hall of Fame announced Martinez's plaque will feature a Red Sox logo, while Craig Biggio and John Smoltz are set to go in as Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves, respectively.

Thursday's announcement hardly comes as a surprise about any of the players, with all three having built their Hall of Fame careers in the selected cities. It was previously revealed that Randy Johnson, who performed to All-Star results in both Arizona and Seattle, will wear a Diamondbacks hat in Cooperstown.

Martinez established himself among the league's premier pitchers during his four seasons with the Montreal Expos, but elevated his game even further after getting traded to Boston in 1997.

The Dominican right-hander was dominant during seven seasons in Boston, compiling a 2.52 ERA with 22 complete games and 10.9 K/9 rate. Martinez won two of his three Cy Youngs with the Red Sox, punctuated by a historic 1999 campaign that saw him lead the league in wins (23), ERA (2.07), WHIP (0.92), and strikeouts (313).

Martinez, who began his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, also enjoyed a four-year run with the New York Mets before finishing with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009.

"I cannot be any prouder to take Red Sox Nation to the Hall of Fame with the logo on my plaque," Martinez said.

There was even less logo debate regarding Smoltz and Biggio.

Smoltz spent 20 of his 22 seasons in Atlanta, leading the league in strikeouts twice and winning the Cy Young Award in 1996. The right-hander's run with the Braves also included three-plus successful years as closer, saving 154 games from 2001-04. He finished his career with one-year stops in Boston and St. Louis.

Biggio, meanwhile, remained with the Astros for his entire 20-year career, earning seven All-Star selections and four Gold Gloves along the way. The second baseman ranks 21st all-time with 3,060 hits.

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The Atlanta Braves signed free-agent outfielder Jonny Gomes to a one-year contract, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports.

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports the deal is worth $4 million with a vesting option from the club for 2016.

Gomes split the 2014 season between the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics, where he saw a slight dip in his numbers from the year before. The 12-year veteran hit .234/.327/.330 with six home runs and 37 RBIs.

The Braves have boosted their outfield talent with the acquisition of Nick Markakis from the Baltimore Orioles, while handing over full-time center field duties to B.J. Upton. It's expected Gomes will split time in left field with the switch-hitting Zoilo Almonte.

With the departure of power hitter Evan Gattis, Gomes is expected to produce some pop of his own, as he batted .276/.373/.371 against left-handers in 2014.

It doesn't get much better from there, though, as he hit an abysmal .165/.248/.262 versus righties.

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Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati will host the 2015 All-Star Game, and a highly controversial former MLBer will be in attendance, according to Reds owner Bob Castellini.

Answering a fan question at Q&A, Castellini said "You'll definitely see Pete Rose at the All-Star Game this year."#reds

— Mark Sheldon (@m_sheldon) January 22, 2015
It's unclear exactly what Rose will be doing at the event, but his attendance will certainly stir controversy after he received a lifetime ban from baseball for betting on games.

Rose has made a few appearances at ballparks since receiving the ban. He was allowed to attend the All-Century Team ceremony during the 1999 World Series and has been on hand in Cincinnati for various club ceremonies.

Outgoing commissioner Bud Selig said in July the decision on whether to let Rose be a part of the All-Star celebration lies with the Reds:

"That will be up to the Cincinnati club, and they know what they can do and can't do," Selig expressed. "It's sort of been subjective. But they've done some things with Pete, but they've been very, very thoughtful and limited. But that's a subject that I'm sure they'll discuss in the new year."

Rose's desire to be reinstated has been well documented, and his fate will now be in the hands of commissioner-elect Rob Manfred when he takes control from Selig later this month.

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Ryan Vogelsong's days in San Francisco aren't over just yet.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the 37-year-old right-hander agreed to a one-year deal with the Giants on Friday, signing up for another season with the team that afforded him the opportunity to revive his career in 2011. The deal will reportedly be finalized once Vogelsong passes a physical.

Vogelsong was reportedly close to signing a one-year deal with the Houston Astros earlier this week - the veteran lamented in November that the Giants didn't share mutual interest in working out a new deal - but abruptly changed course Wednesday and re-engaged with San Francisco.

Vogelsong has earned two World Series championships since re-establishing himself in the Giants' rotation in 2011 following a three-year stint in Japan, though his performance has declined over the last two seasons.

The former fifth-round pick posted a 4.62 (75 ERA+) with a 1.38 WHIP since 2013, yielding 1.03 home runs per nine innings while posting the seventh-lowest swinging-strike rate among starters (min. 250 IP).

It remains unclear, however, how manager Bruce Bochy will utilize Vogelsong in 2015, as the Giants' rotation for next season is tentatively comprised of Madison Bumgarner, Tim Hudson, Matt Cain, Jake Peavy and Tim Lincecum.

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Ichiro Suzuki, the 10-time All-Star who sits just 156 hits shy of 3,000, will reportedly author the next chapter of his illustrious career in south Florida.

The Miami Marlins reportedly agreed Friday to a one-year deal with Suzuki that's expected to be worth close to $2 million, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The 41-year-old will provide depth in 2015 behind the club's impressive triumvirate of young outfielders - Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich - and his deal is pending a physical, per MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.

Rosenthal added that Suzuki's deal is unlikely to include an option for the 2016 campaign.

Suzuki, who made his MLB debut with the Seattle Mariners in 2001, appeared in 143 games for the New York Yankees last season, hitting .284/.324/.340 with 16 extra-base hits and 15 stolen bases.

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The Oakland Athletics will likely start the season without their closer.

Left-hander Sean Doolittle has a slight rotator cuff tear in his left shoulder, the team announced Friday.

Doolittle has received a platelet-rich plasm injection in the shoulder in an attempt to reduce inflammation and will be re-evaluated at a later date.

Asst GM David Forst tells me that doctors do not believe that Doolittle will need surgery; rest and treatment should resolve the issue.

— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) January 23, 2015
The 28-year-old spent some time on the disabled list towards the end of last season with an intercostal strain, but converted 22 of his 26 save opportunities, racking up 89 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings pitched.

A's General manager Billy Beane acquired right-hander Tyler Clippard from the Washington Nationals earlier this month, which should help ease the loss of Doolittle.

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lobo316 wrote: In order to feature his bat in the lineup on a more consistent basis, Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell is asking Allen Craig to get reacquainted with an old position.

I hope Craig gets reacquainted with playing for another team ASAP. :tongue:

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Sad news tonight.


from cbssports.com:


The great Ernie Banks, back in his prime.



Chicago Cubs legend and Hall of Fame shortstop Ernie Banks has died, the Cubs have announced.

“Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all time,” said Cubs owner Tom Ricketts in a statement. “He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I've ever known.

“Approachable, ever optimistic and kind hearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub. My family and I grieve the loss of such a great and good-hearted man, but we look forward to celebrating Ernie's life in the days ahead.”

Known for his fun-loving, positive attitude, "Mr. Cub" broke into Major League Baseball for the Cubs in 1953. Over the course of a 19-year career, all of which came with the Cubs, Banks would hit .274/.330/.500 with 407 doubles, 512 homers and 1636 RBI. He also racked up 2583 hits and 1305 runs.

The 12-time All-Star and two-time MVP led the NL in homers and RBI twice each and is still one of the best power-hitting shortstops in history -- though he did move to first base for the second portion of his career due to knee issues.

With Banks, though, the stats only tell a portion of the tale. His infectious personality won over the hearts of Cubs fans and opposing fans alike for years, despite him being stuck on so many bad Cubs teams. The Cubs' press release announcing his death specifically mentioned his "charm" and "wit."

"Let's play two," Ernie liked to say, suggesting a doubleheader was always better than just a single game in one day. How did it start? Well, he was quoted in the Houston Chronicle as having said the following in July of 1969:
"It was about 105 degrees in Chicago and that's a time when everybody gets tired. I came into the clubhouse and everybody was sitting around and I said, 'Beautiful day. Let's play two!' And everybody looked at me like I was crazy. There were a couple of writers around and they wrote that and it stayed with me."

In 1977, Banks was inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame in his first ballot, receiving 83.8 percent of the vote.

In 1982, the Cubs retired Banks' No. 14, the first time in the history of the franchise a number was retired.

In 2008, an Ernie Banks statue was unveiled outside Wrigley Field on the third base side.

In 2013, Banks was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, joining the likes of Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Stan Musial in gaining this honor.

All this from a man who grew up in segregation and played his first years of professional baseball in the Negro Leagues with the Kansas City Monarchs. He also served in the Army during the Korean War.

Quite a life, Mr. Banks. Rest in peace. You will truly be missed.

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Joe Kelly has set a lofty goal for the 2015 season.

The Boston Red Sox hurler predicted he would win the American League Cy Young Award during a radio appearance and later to reporters Saturday.

"Yeah, I'm going to win this year," Kelly said. "That's what I told the radio guys. They didn't believe me ... I always believe in myself, yeah, 100 percent. I just feel like I'm getting better every year."

The 26-year-old has started only 48 games in his major league career, and is relatively new to the confines of Fenway Park after being acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals along with Allen Craig on July 31 in the John Lackey trade. He owns a 21-16 lifetime record with a 3.41 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.

"When I got traded over, I lived in a hotel for two straight months," Kelly added. "I'm used to having my wife there, my two dogs, my bed, my clothes. I brought one suitcase and that's it. I lived in the hotel for two months. If you do that, it's kind of tough, whether you are a professional athlete or have any kind of job. I'm looking forward to actually having a home and decorating it myself."

Kelly has never earned more than 10 wins in a single season, and will likely need to double that total while keeping his ERA and WHIP in check in order to beat out some of the high-profile hurlers in the AL such as Felix Hernandez, Corey Kluber, David Price and Chris Sale for the award.

Everyone loves an underdog, but Kelly's chances of winning the Cy Young are slim to none, as he's never pitched more than 124 innings in three seasons.

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CHICAGO - The Chicago White Sox have hired six-time National League steals champion Vince Coleman as a baserunning instructor.

General manager Rick Hahn announced the hiring Saturday at the team's annual fan convention.

Coleman, the last player with 100 steals in a season when he finished with 109 in 1987, will work with major leaguers and minor leaguers throughout the season. The White Sox hope he can help Adam Eaton and others.

Eaton hit .300 and had a .362 on-base percentage last season - his first with Chicago. But he struggled on steals, getting thrown out on nine of 24 attempts.

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Alex Rodriguez is hoping an act of goodwill ingrains himself well with incoming commissioner Rob Manfred.

Rodriguez, who is eligible to return to baseball this spring after serving a 162-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis investigation, reportedly met with Manfred at Major League Baseball headquarters in New York last week. The embattled New York Yankees slugger initiated the meeting and attended it without lawyers or representation, according to the New York Post.

The nature of their discussion is unclear, though it's believed to be an attempt on Rodriguez's part to smooth over the lingering damage caused by his role in baseball's steroid scandal. Manfred, who will officially unseat commissioner Bud Selig on Sunday, was a central figure in the investigation that brought down Rodriguez and 13 other players.

From the Post:

The last time A-Rod had visited the building, on Nov. 20, 2013, he had exited in fury (or at least pretend fury) after independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz didn't allow Rodriguez's legal team to interrogate commissioner Bud Selig for his 211-game suspension of A-Rod. Rodriguez stood up in the hearing room, looked at Manfred and shouted an expletive - whether it was directed at Manfred specifically or commenting about the situation in general eternally will be open to interpretation, depending on your witness - and left the room and the building.

Because Selig didn't testify, A-Rod declared, he wouldn't testify either, although he would have open himself up to further trouble had he lied about the illegal performance-enhancing drug usage to which he later admitted to federal drug agents.

 

 



Rodriguez's suspension was eventually reduced to 162 games, but the fallout has created uncertainty regarding his return to baseball.

Following the arbitrator's decision, Manfred and Selig appeared on 60 Minutes and offered in great detail some of the evidence uncovered in MLB's investigation into Rodriguez and Biogenesis. Subsequent revelations led to rumors the Yankees were working to void the $61 million left on Rodrgiuez's contract.

For his part, Rodriguez has remained relatively quiet since the ruling. The 39-year-old is reportedly intent on competing for the Yankees' third base job and is said to be seeking hitting advice from home run king Barry Bonds.

Last edited on Sun Jan 25th, 2015 08:07 am by lobo316

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Minnesota Twins pitcher Tommy Milone said he's already throwing after doctors removed a benign tumor from his neck last month.

Milone, who missed nearly a month of action in September while suffering from neck inflammation, said he saw a specialist after the discomfort in his neck failed to dissipate following the season.

The Twins left-hander told MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger on Saturday that he began throwing just two weeks after the Dec. 4 procedure.

Milone, 27, was acquired by the Twins in July after spending the two previous seasons with the Oakland Athletics. He posted a 4.19 ERA and 1.40 WHIP across 21 starts in 2014.

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The New York Yankees continue to distance themselves from Alex Rodriguez, even if their efforts are simply delaying the inevitable.

Rodriguez has reportedly been denied a chance to meet with the club and apologize face-to-face for his role in the Biogenesis scandal before players report to camp next month, according to the New York Daily News.

"We'll see you in spring training," the Yankees reportedly told the embattled slugger.

Rodriguez has already attempted to smooth things over with new commissioner Rob Manfred after serving a 162-game suspension. The three-time MVP reportedly met Manfred last week at Major League Baseball headquarters in New York.

Though the exact nature of their discussion is unclear, the Daily News reports Manfred told Rodriguez, "You're done here. You're a Yankee and you have to work things out now with them."

Apparently, the team isn't ready to just yet.

Sources told the Daily News that the collateral damage caused by Rodriguez and the Biogenesis scandal may be irreparable. From court room battles to public relation warfare, Rodriguez has several fences to mend prior to his re-entry into baseball.

From the Daily News:

Relations between Rodriguez, MLB and the Yankees became so heated in late 2013 and early 2014 that baseball executives and team officials hired extra security for protection, going so far as to have their homes and offices swept for bugging devices and employing bodyguards to accompany them, according to sources.

Behind the scenes, Rodriguez has reportedly remained steadfast in his desire to reclaim the Yankees' starting third base job, despite the resigning of Chase Headley.

The 39-year-old slugger is said to be working out as many as seven days a week and seeking hitting tips from Barry Bonds. One source told the Daily News that Rodriguez is noticeably thinner and appearing "massless" compared to previous years.

Rodriguez, who is owed $61 million over the next three years, hasn't appeared in a major league game in over 16 months. Despite the inaction, several milestones loom upon Rodriguez's anticipated return to baseball.

He needs just 61 hits to become the 29th player to collect 3,000 career hits, and is seven home runs away from passing Willie Mays on the all-time home run list. Rodriguez can also become the third player in MLB history to reach 2,000 RBIs by driving in 31 more runs.

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Rob Manfred's tenure as commissioner of Major League Baseball isn't even 24 hours old and he's already proposing radical changes to the sport.

Manfred, who replaced Bud Selig on Sunday as baseball's new commissioner, says he's considering eliminating defensive shifts in an effort to inject more offense into baseball.

"Things like eliminating shifts, I would be open to those sorts of ideas," Manfred told ESPN in an exclusive interview. "We have really smart people working in the game and they're going to figure out ways to get a competitive advantage. I think it's incumbent upon us in the commissioner's office to look at the advantages produced and say, 'Is this what we want to happen in the game?'"

Though offense has been in steady decline across the league, Manfred's proposal to ban such forward-thinking strategy is sure to be met with resistance. Teams have long employed some iteration of the shift, but it wasn't until recently that the strategy began catching mainstream acceptance.

The Tampa Bay Rays are considered among the more aggressive teams at using the unorthodox realignment, sometimes out-shifting their opponent by a 2:1 ratio. The sabermetric-inspired shift relies on balls in play data to isolate a hitter's weaknesses and force them to adjust out of their comfort zone.

For instance, teams frequently stack the right side of the infield against David Ortiz to counter the Boston Red Sox slugger's pull-heavy approach.

Proponents of the shift argue defensive realignment isn't to blame for the downward trend in offense over the last two decades. Eno Sarris of FanGraphs points out that while the use of shifts has increased in recent years, league average rates of balls in play have remained virtually unchanged.

Strikeout rates, meanwhile, are at an all-time high and hitters are walking more infrequently than ever before.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, however, offers credence to Manfred's proposed notion after polling a pair of saber-friendly executives.

This is very telling: I ran Rob Manfred's idea to limit defensive shifts by two sabermetrically inclined GMs -- and both said they agree.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 25, 2015
Another hot-button topic Manfred discussed was pace of play. Manfred said he supports the idea of a pitch clock and suggests it's only a matter of time before the game is on a time limit.

"The fact that we had the guts to do it in the Fall League ... even the most traditional baseball people went to games and said, 'You know what? These games do feel different, and they feel better,'" Manfred said.

Manfred said his other priorities include growing the sport from a grassroots level, embracing technology without inferring with tradition, and fostering a greater bond between the players and league executives.

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The Toronto Blue Jays have reportedly ended their pursuit of Baltimore Orioles executive Dan Duquette.

Sportsnet's Shi Davidi reports negotiations between the two clubs are over after Toronto refused to part with a pair of first-round draft picks in exchange for the Orioles vice president of baseball operations. The Blue Jays had targeted Duquette, whose contract with the Orioles runs through the 2018 season, to replace Paul Beeston as the club's next president and CEO.

Although the Blue Jays are not believed to have offered specific names during the negotiating process, Davidi reports Orioles managing partner Peter Angelos sought a package that included right-handed pitcher Jeff Hoffman and catcher Max Pentecost, the ninth and 11th overall picks in last year's draft.

From Davidi:

The Blue Jays are believed to have been willing to offer a package of minor-leaguers similar to past precedents - think fringe right-hander Chris Carpenter going from the Chicago Cubs to the Boston Red Sox for Theo Epstein - with the baseball departments of both clubs negotiating the names once a deal for Duquette was reached, and Major League Baseball acting as a mediator if needed (as it did in the Epstein case).

A previous report noted that Beeston would remain in his role through the end of this year while ownership continued to search for his replacement.

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The New York Yankees would rather Alex Rodriguez didn't return to baseball this season, but if he does, they're reportedly going to great lengths to ensure it happens on their terms.

After signing A-Rod's replacement to a four-year deal and reportedly rejecting his offer to make peace before training camp, the Yankees are looking to hurt Rodriguez where it matters most: his bank account.

The Yankees are working to void marketing bonuses written into Rodriguez's contract that could net him up to $24 million if he passes Barry Bonds' all-time home run mark of 762, Bill Madden from the New York Daily News reported Sunday. These incentives are above and beyond the $61 million owed to him over the next three seasons.

Although it's unlikely the 39-year-old has another 109 homers left in his career, the milestone clause includes a number of more attainable triggers should Rodriguez stay healthy.

Rodriguez, who has reportedly been seeking the hitting advice of Bonds, needs just six more home runs to tie Willie Mays' 660 and earn an additional $6 million. The marketing deal would also pay the embattled slugger $6 million in bonuses for tying Babe Ruth (714) and Hank Aaron (755).

Sources tell the Daily News that the Yankees intend to argue that Rodriguez's actions since signing his 10-year, $272-million contract in 2007 have rendered the marketing opportunities worthless.

The three-time MVP was suspended 162 games last winter for his role in the Biogenesis scandal and reportedly admitted to federal investigators that he paid $12,000 a month for steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.

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Please Delete - wrong thread.




Last edited on Mon Jan 26th, 2015 11:13 pm by CanadianHorseman

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Please Delete - wrong thread.

Last edited on Mon Jan 26th, 2015 11:13 pm by CanadianHorseman

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Give Rob Manfred credit: two days into his new job as commissioner of Major League Baseball and he's already inspiring spirited debate.

Manfred's first day as commissioner included signing the 2015 baseball, outlining his top five priorities, and writing an open letter to fans - all of which occurred before he even arrived at MLB headquarters for his first official day in office.


Manfred's media tour included an interview with Tyler Kepner of the New York Times, where he discussed the possibility of a designated hitter in the National League and whether baseball will ever return to Montreal.

Here's an excerpt of what he told the Times:

National League DH

I have never experienced one moment of mental dissonance over the fact that the American League has it and the National League doesn't. I just never have. It's interesting, right now, given where offense is in our game. I can't see the American League clubs giving it up, and right now, given the composition of our National League owners, I don't see them buying into it. So I think we’re staying where we are.



Baseball returning to Montreal

Look, I think Montreal helped itself as a candidate for Major League Baseball with the Toronto games that they had up there last year. It's hard to miss how many people showed up for those exhibition games. It was a strong showing. Montreal's a great city. I think with the right set of circumstances and the right facility, it’s possible.

Sponsored jerseys

There was more chatter about that in the game 10 years ago than there is now. It's just not a hot issue for us. I think people have great respect for the way our uniforms look. I don't foresee that one; I really don't.

Manfred was also asked during a interview with ESPN's Jerry Crasnick about the status of Pete Rose and whether the new commissioner would consider overturning his lifetime ban.

Cincinnati is hosting this year's All-Star Game and the team has already said it plans to include baseball's all-time hits leader in the festivities.

"It's always been a commissioner-only issue," Manfred said. "I understand I have to get completely conversant and deal with whatever request comes my way from Mr. Rose. I'm just not at a point in time where I can say anything intelligent about it. I do, however, recognize that it's an issue.''

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The Toronto Blue Jays announced a one-year contract extension with longtime president and CEO Paul Beeston on Monday evening, barely 24 hours after the club reportedly stopped their pursuit of Baltimore Orioles executive Dan Duquette.

Beeston's future with the Blue Jays grew increasingly uncertain after reports indicating the team was eager to pry Duquette from the Orioles and have him serve as Beeston's replacement surfaced earlier this offseason.

The Orioles, however, wanted compensation for Duquette, and negotiations between the two clubs fizzled after Toronto refused to part with Jeff Hoffman and Max Pentecost, who were both selected in the first round of the 2014 draft.

Beeston, who became the Blue Jays' first employee in 1976, will retire after the 2015 campaign.

"Beeston's successor will start when he retires," the Blue Jays said in a press release. "We will not be commenting on the succession process or timing."

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The Seattle Mariners added a pair of familiar faces to their list of spring training invitees on Monday by agreeing to minor-league contracts with veteran outfielders Franklin Gutierrez and Endy Chavez.

Gutierrez's career has been derailed by persistent injury problems, and the 31-year-old missed the entire 2014 campaign due to a joint condition known as ankylosing spondylitis and severe stomach problems caused by irritable bowel syndrome. The Venezuela native boasts a .256/.306/.391 line (90 OPS+) over parts of nine seasons in the majors, and managed a 111 OPS+ with 14 homers over 81 games between 2012 and 2013.

Chavez, meanwhile, spent the last two seasons with the Mariners, compiling a .271/.303/.347 line (87 OPS+) over 537 plate appearances while serving as a reserve outfielder.

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The Cincinnati Reds locked up All-Star catcher Devin Mesoraco on a four-year, $28-million contract extension Monday, the team announced.

Mesoraco can also reportedly earn $2 million in bonuses over the duration of the contract, which buys out his first three years of arbitration and initial season of free agency.

Mesoraco, who is arbitration eligible for the first time in his career this winter, was said to be seeking an annual salary of $3.6 million. The Reds countered with $2.45 million when the two sides exchanged figures earlier this month.

By giving up a year of free agency and remaining under club control through his age-30 season, Mesoraco appears to have earned himself a considerable raise at an annual average value of $7 million per season. The 26-year-old made $525,000 last year.

The 2007 first-round pick led major-league catchers with 25 home runs during his breakout 2014 season, setting career highs in virtually every offensive category.

Mesoraco slashed .273/.359/.534 across 114 games and paced all catchers with an .893 OPS (minimum 440 plate appearances).



 

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lobo316 wrote: The New York Yankees would rather Alex Rodriguez didn't return to baseball this season, but if he does, they're reportedly going to great lengths to ensure it happens on their terms.

After signing A-Rod's replacement to a four-year deal and reportedly rejecting his offer to make peace before training camp, the Yankees are looking to hurt Rodriguez where it matters most: his bank account.

The Yankees are working to void marketing bonuses written into Rodriguez's contract that could net him up to $24 million if he passes Barry Bonds' all-time home run mark of 762, Bill Madden from the New York Daily News reported Sunday. These incentives are above and beyond the $61 million owed to him over the next three seasons.

Although it's unlikely the 39-year-old has another 109 homers left in his career, the milestone clause includes a number of more attainable triggers should Rodriguez stay healthy.

Rodriguez, who has reportedly been seeking the hitting advice of Bonds, needs just six more home runs to tie Willie Mays' 660 and earn an additional $6 million. The marketing deal would also pay the embattled slugger $6 million in bonuses for tying Babe Ruth (714) and Hank Aaron (755).

Sources tell the Daily News that the Yankees intend to argue that Rodriguez's actions since signing his 10-year, $272-million contract in 2007 have rendered the marketing opportunities worthless.

The three-time MVP was suspended 162 games last winter for his role in the Biogenesis scandal and reportedly admitted to federal investigators that he paid $12,000 a month for steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.

I know A Rod is a douche but I can't believe how petty the Steinjuniors and Cashman are being.  Its not like ARod is the only asshole ever to play baseball.  We've had bigger ones including Clemens.

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The Boston Red Sox acquired left-hander Robbie Ross from the Texas Rangers on Tuesday in exchange for right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, the team announced.

Ranaudo, a first-round pick of the Red Sox in 2010, was named the International League's Most Valuable Pitcher last season after going 14-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 138 innings. He made his major league debut in August, and posted a 4.81 ERA over seven starts.

The 25-year-old should have a much better chance of cracking the Rangers' Opening Day rotation than he would have with Boston, and could conceivably battle it out with offseason acquisition Ross Detwiler and others for the No. 5 spot if he doesn't begin the season in the minors.

Ross, meanwhile, has primarily served as a reliever over his three-year career and will almost surely compete in that role with the Red Sox. The southpaw struggled over 12 starts last season but has been effective in a relief role in the past.

From 2012-13, Ross pitched to a 2.62 ERA over 123 relief appearances.

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New commissioner Rob Manfred has not only publicly endorsed radical changes to the game during his first days on the job - he's apparently presented the players with several ideas to consider as well.

Major League Baseball recently sent the union a list of potential changes to the sport that included lowering the mound and adjusting the strike zone, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

Rosenthal described the presentation as a "package of data," and noted that no formal talks or negotiations have taken place. A source told FOX Sports that none of the ideas have progressed to an official proposal.

The list reportedly included information on lowering the mound, moving in the fences at every park, wrapping the ball tighter to make it travel further, adjusting the strike zone, and adopting the designated hitter in the National League.


Manfred, who has made no secret in his desire to speed up the game and improve offense, has already discussed a possible ban on shifts and use of a pitch clock.

In an interview with the New York Times on Sunday, Manfred downplayed the possibility of expanding the use of a DH.

"I can't see the American League clubs giving it up, and right now, given the composition of our National League owners, I don't see them buying into it," he said. "So I think we’re staying where we are."

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lobo316 wrote: The Boston Red Sox acquired left-hander Robbie Ross from the Texas Rangers on Tuesday in exchange for right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, the team announced.

It wasn't that long ago that Ranaudo was one of Boston's top prospects was considered an untouchable when it came to trades.

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The Baltimore Orioles finally made a move to address their offense after a quiet start to the offseason.

Baltimore bolstered its lineup Tuesday by acquiring outfielder Travis Snider from the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Orioles announced. Pittsburgh receives 21-year-old minor league pitcher Stephen Tarpley and a player to be named later in exchange for the 26-year-old.

Snider is coming off his most productive season in the big leagues and will provide the Orioles with a capable bat to help fill the void left by the departures of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis to free agency.

The 2006 first-round pick revitalized his career with the Pirates last season after persistent struggles to live up to the hype that at one point made him one of the best hitting prospects in the minors. While Snider was shielded from left-handers, he blossomed in a platoon role and had a monster second half, hitting .288/.356/.524 with nine home runs.

Baltimore is deep in lefty-hitting corner outfielders, but Snider should receive consistent playing time against right-handed pitching.

Tarpley, meanwhile, made 13 appearances (12 starts) at short-season Class A Aberdeen and posted a 3.66 ERA and struck out 8.14 batters per nine innings. The left-hander was selected in the third round of the 2013 draft.

To make room for Snider on the 40-man roster, catcher Michael Ohlman was designated for assignment.

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The Washington Nationals reportedly agreed to a one-year, $5-million deal with right-handed reliever Casey Janssen, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

Janssen spent his entire eight-year career with the Toronto Blue Jays before hitting free agency at the conclusion of last season. The 33-year-old served as the team's closer for the past three seasons, recording a 2.94 ERA and 81 saves in 168 appearances over that time.

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The Chicago Cubs are short on outfield bleachers, but not on confidence for the 2015 season.

After first baseman Anthony Rizzo predicted earlier this month that the Cubs will win the National League Central, owner Tom Ricketts offered the same sentiments when speaking Tuesday.

"We don't like the 'predict, predict, predict' stuff, but I'm telling you that it's been several years in the making," Ricketts told Christopher Placek of the Daily Herald.

"We've built a very strong foundation for our team, and we're going to keep getting better and I do believe we're going to win our division and get to the playoffs this year.

"We'll be saying, 'Cubs win' a lot more."

The Cubs will have to win a lot more games in order for the team to claim its first division title since 2008, as the North Siders are coming off a 73-win campaign and a fifth consecutive fifth-place finish.

It does appear the time is now in Chicago, however, as the Cubs of the last six seasons are a far cry from the one that will take the field at Wrigley in 2015.

The additions of manager Joe Maddon, left-hander Jon Lester, catcher Miguel Montero and center fielder Dexter Fowler added to complement the young core of Rizzo, Jorge Soler, Starlin Castro and Javier Baez give Ricketts plenty of reason to feel optimistic.

"If someone were to come up to me a few years ago and said, 'OK, Tom, we'll give you Theo Epstein to run baseball operations, Joe Maddon to be your manager, you'll be the No. 1 farm system in all baseball, I'll give you two all-stars – first baseman and shortstop – and we'll throw in Jon Lester as your ace,' you think about that and I'll say, 'OK, I'll bet on that,'" Ricketts said.

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Rob Manfred says the league continues to support the idea of an international draft, but baseball's new commissioner hinted at something even bigger Tuesday: an all-inclusive event.

"I think at some point the equities are such that we are going to end up with some sort of worldwide draft system," he told MLB Network Radio. "A single method of entry into the game."

Major League Baseball and the players' union have previously discussed the possibility of a worldwide draft, but it's unclear whether it would take the shape of a single global event or simply a second draft for international players.

The current rules in place favor international amateur free agents significantly more than high school and college players who go through the draft.

While top prospect Carlos Correa secured a $4.2-million bonus when the Houston Astros made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Cuban shortstop Yoan Moncada stands to make considerably more as an international free agent.

The switch-hitting infielder is projected to land a signing bonus in the $30-million range in addition to a lucrative multi-year deal.

Manfred admitted that the discrepancies between the two formats have made the idea of an all-inclusive entry into the sport a top priority.

"We have proposed, in a number of rounds of bargaining, a worldwide draft," Manfred said.

The league previously said the idea of an international draft – let alone a worldwide system – would not be revisited until the current collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2016 season.

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Retired pitcher Joe Blanton will reportedly hold an open workout next month in hopes of securing a job with a major league team.

Blanton, who retired last April after making two starts for the Oakland Athletics' Triple-A affiliate, will reportedly throw a bullpen session Feb. 4 in the Nashville area, according to Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors.

The 34-year-old last appeared on an active major league roster in 2013 as a member of the Los Angeles Angels, struggling to a 6.04 ERA and 1.61 WHIP across 20 starts. He was released by the Angels the following spring.

Blanton pitched for four teams during his 10-year career, most notably as a member of the Athletics where he averaged 206 innings per year from 2005-2008.

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CanadianHorseman wrote: lobo316 wrote: The Boston Red Sox acquired left-hander Robbie Ross from the Texas Rangers on Tuesday in exchange for right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, the team announced.

It wasn't that long ago that Ranaudo was one of Boston's top prospects was considered an untouchable when it came to trades.

Kind of makes you feel like a Yankee fan, when they ship Manny Banuelos for a bag of balls and week-old mexican seven-layer dip.

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Masahiro Tanaka appears to be 100 percent healthy ahead of the 2015 season.

The New York Yankees right-hander worked out in Japan on Thursday and reported no discomfort in his previously injured elbow.

"So far so good - including that (the elbow)," Tanaka told The Japan Times.

Tanaka missed two months last season due to a partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, but returned in time to make two September starts.

The 26-year-old pitched to a 13-5 record with a 2.77 ERA in 20 outings, and has big hopes for the Bronx Bombers this time around.

"This year I hope to have the shortest offseason among all 30 big league clubs," Tanaka stated.

The Yankees inked Tanaka to a seven-year, $155-million contract last offseason.

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Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart added a familiar face to his front-office staff Wednesday by hiring former teammate and World Series hero Joe Carter as a special assistant, the team announced.

Following an illustrious 16-year career in the major leagues - his legacy defined by his unforgettable walk-off home run in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series - Carter served as a broadcaster for the Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs, but never held a position in a front office.

The Diamondbacks did not immediately disclose what Carter's new job will entail.

Stewart, incidentally, was wearing a Blue Jays uniform when Carter smacked the most memorable home run in franchise history more than two decades ago.

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Gordon Beckham's underwhelming tenure with the White Sox ended when he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels in August, but the 28-year-old will get a chance in 2015 to reestablish himself in Chicago.

The White Sox agreed Wednesday to a one-year, $2-million deal with Beckham, who was selected eighth overall by Chicago in the 2008 draft.

Beckham enjoyed an auspicious start to his career with the White Sox, finishing fifth in Rookie of the Year voting in 2009 after hitting .270/.347/.460 with 14 home runs and 28 doubles over 103 games.

The Georgia native struggled in recent years, however, to replicate the success he enjoyed in his rookie campaign. Over the last five seasons, Beckham managed a meager 80 OPS+ while managing a mere 2.8 wins above replacement over 662 contests.

Beckham, though, saw time at second base, shortstop and third base last season, and will likely receive regular playing time with the White Sox after the club traded infielder Marcus Semien to the Oakland Athletics earlier this offseason.

In a corresponding move, the White Sox designated outfielder Dayan Viciedo for assignment to create a spot for Beckham on the 40-man roster.

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Rob Manfred says the league continues to support the idea of an international draft, but baseball's new commissioner hinted at something even bigger Tuesday: an all-inclusive event.

"I think at some point the equities are such that we are going to end up with some sort of worldwide draft system," he told MLB Network Radio. "A single method of entry into the game."

Major League Baseball and the players' union have previously discussed the possibility of a worldwide draft, but it was unclear whether it would take the shape of a single global event or simply a second draft for international players.

The current rules in place favor international amateur free agents significantly more than high school and college players who go through the draft.

While top prospect Carlos Correa secured a $4.2-million bonus when the Houston Astros made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Cuban shortstop Yoan Moncada stands to make considerably more as an international free agent.

The switch-hitting infielder is projected to land a signing bonus in the $30-million range in addition to a lucrative multi-year deal.

Manfred admitted that the discrepancies between the two formats have made the idea of an all-inclusive entry into the sport a top priority.

"We have proposed, in a number of rounds of bargaining, a worldwide draft," Manfred said.

The league previously said the idea of an international draft – let alone a worldwide system – would not be revisited until the current collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2016 season.

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NEW YORK - Former New York Mets general manager Omar Minaya is leaving his job as senior vice president of the San Diego Padres to become a special adviser to Major League Baseball Players Association head Tony Clark, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because the hiring had not been made public. The union was expected to announce the decision later in the day.

The 56-year-old Minaya was born in the Dominican Republic and started in baseball management as a scout for the Texas Rangers, where he helped sign Sammy Sosa.

He became the major leagues' first Hispanic general manager with the Montreal Expos from February 2002 until September 2004. He left the Expos to become GM of his hometown Mets, who fired him after the 2010 season. He was hired by the Padres in December 2011.

Minaya follows the path of Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, who left his job as executive vice president/senior adviser of the Padres after a dozen years in December 2013 to become a special assistant to Clark. Minaya is reversing the path of former major leaguer Tony Bernazard, who was a special assistant for the union from 1992 until he left to work the Minaya and the Mets from 2004-09.

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ATLANTA - Cuban outfielder Dian Toscano and the Atlanta Braves have agreed to a $6 million, four-year contract.

The 25-year-old, a left-handed hitter, batted .356 during the 2012-13 season for Villa Clara in Cuba.

His deal, announced Wednesday, includes a $1.2 million signing bonus payable 72 hours after he reports to major league spring training and salaries of $800,000 this year, $1 million in 2016, $1.3 million in 2017 and $1.5 million in 2018.

Atlanta has a $1.7 million option for 2019 with a $200,000 buyout.

The Braves are rebuilding their outfield after trading Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis.

Nick Markakis was signed to replace Heyward in right field. Other newcomers include Zoilo Almonte and Eury Perez and Jonny Gomes. B.J. Upton returns in centerfield.

To make room for Toscano on the 40-man roster, outfielder Jose Constanza was designated for assignment.

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Less than 24 hours after general manager Alex Anthopoulos suggested his team isn't in the market for Jonathan Papelbon, the Toronto Blue Jays reportedly invited a different veteran to compete for innings out of the bullpen in 2015.

The Blue Jays agreed Thursday to a minor league deal with Ronald Belisario that will pay the right-hander $1.7 million should he make the major league roster, according to Sportsnet's Shi Davidi.

Belisario, who elected free agency after being designated for assignment by the Chicago White Sox in November, struggled mightily last season, crafting a career-worst 5.56 ERA with a 1.45 WHIP over 62 relief appearances. The 32-year-old also managed a career-worst 16.1 percent strikeout rate and yielded an .817 OPS to left-handed hitters. However, Belisario continued to induce ground balls at an extremely high rate.

Despite his shaky performance in 2014, Belisario would likely compete with right-handers Steve Delabar and Marco Estrada for late-inning opportunities with the Blue Jays following the departures of Casey Janssen, Sergio Santos and Dustin McGowan.

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The Philadelphia Phillies have signed right-hander Chad Billingsley to a one-year contract, the team announced Thursday.

The veteran will make $1.5 million in 2015, but can earn more with performance bonuses.

Billingsley, who boasts an 81-61 career record with a 3.65 ERA, is coming off elbow surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon, and became a free agent after the Los Angeles Dodgers declined his 2015 option.

The 30-year-old should provide depth in the Phillies' rotation should the club decide to deal Cole Hamels and/or Cliff Lee at some point.

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Joba Chamberlain is still looking for a home with just weeks until pitchers and catchers are to report for spring training.

The right-hander has turned down multiple offers from teams he didn't want to join, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

Rosenthal doesn't elaborate on which teams Chamberlain has rejected, but does believe the reliever's value is plummeting. Chamberlain's hopes of a two-year deal are all but squandered at this point, meaning he'll likely have to sign a one-year pact loaded with incentives.

The former Detroit Tiger made $2.5 million in 2014, pitching to a 2-5 record with a 3.57 ERA in 63 innings of work. His post All-Star break numbers were alarming, however. Opponents hit .271 off the 29-year-old and his ERA ballooned to 4.97 in the second half.

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The Milwaukee Brewers appear to have found a replacement for departed left-hander Zach Duke, as the club agreed Thursday to a one-year, $3-million deal with veteran reliever Neal Cotts, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

Cotts will likely provide help in middle relief in 2015 while serving as a secondary left-handed option behind Will Smith. Cotts passed his physical and the deal has been finalized, Rosenthal reports.

Cotts, who turns 35 in March, regressed considerably last season after enjoying the finest campaign of his career in 2013 following a three-year absence from the major leagues.

The seasoned left-hander fashioned a 4.32 ERA with a 1.34 WHIP across 73 relief appearances with the Texas Rangers. He posted a 22 percent strikeout rate while yielding six home runs over 66 2/3 innings.

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lobo316 wrote: Less than 24 hours after general manager Alex Anthopoulos suggested his team isn't in the market for Jonathan Papelbon, the Toronto Blue Jays reportedly invited a different veteran to compete for innings out of the bullpen in 2015.

The Blue Jays agreed Thursday to a minor league deal with Ronald Belisario that will pay the right-hander $1.7 million should he make the major league roster, according to Sportsnet's Shi Davidi.

Belisario, who elected free agency after being designated for assignment by the Chicago White Sox in November, struggled mightily last season, crafting a career-worst 5.56 ERA with a 1.45 WHIP over 62 relief appearances. The 32-year-old also managed a career-worst 16.1 percent strikeout rate and yielded an .817 OPS to left-handed hitters. However, Belisario continued to induce ground balls at an extremely high rate.

Despite his shaky performance in 2014, Belisario would likely compete with right-handers Steve Delabar and Marco Estrada for late-inning opportunities with the Blue Jays following the departures of Casey Janssen, Sergio Santos and Dustin McGowan.

 

 

Ronald Belisario won't get the opportunity to pitch for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015 after a widely reported minor-league deal with the club fell through Friday, according to Sportsnet's Mike Wilner.

Belisario, who was designated for assignment by the Chicago White Sox earlier this offseason, reportedly completed a deal with the Blue Jays on Thursday that would've paid him $1.7 million had he earned a spot on the 25-man roster.

The 32-year-old authored a career-worst 5.56 ERA with a 1.45 WHIP over 62 relief appearances for the White Sox in 2014, though he managed a 3.54 fielding independent pitching mark with a robust 59.3 percent ground-ball rate.


 

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Unable to secure a guaranteed deal this winter, veteran right-hander Scott Baker reportedly signed a minor-league contract with the New York Yankees on Friday, according to Baseball America's Matt Eddy.

Baker, who revived his career with the Texas Rangers in 2014 after spending almost two straight years on the disabled list, reportedly drew interest from five teams earlier this winter, but none were willing to offer him a guaranteed contract.

Baker will thus head to spring training with the Yankees to contend either for a spot in the club's reconstructed rotation or for a long-relief role after managing a 5.47 ERA with a 1.19 WHIP over eight starts and 17 relief appearances in 2014.

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TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays signed veteran infielder Ramon Santiago to a minor-league contract Friday with an invite to major-league spring training.

Santiago, 35, played in 75 games for the Cincinnati Reds last season. He had a .246 batting average with two homers and 17 RBIs.

He has also played for the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners over his 13-year career.

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The next chapter of Alexi Ogando's career will reportedly take place in Boston.

The 31-year-old right-hander reportedly agreed Friday to a one-year, $1.5-million deal with the Red Sox, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, who added that Ogando can earn another $1.5 million through performance bonuses.

Ogando, however, has required five separate trips to the disabled list over the last three seasons and he'll have to pass a physical before a deal is finalized.

Ogando spent the last five seasons with the Texas Rangers, rotating between the rotation and bullpen with considerable success before struggling mightily in 2014. The 6-foot-4 hurler crafted a career-worst 6.84 ERA with a 1.92 WHIP over 27 relief appearances last season, logging just 25 innings while posting an ugly 12.3 percent walk rate.

Ogando will presumably provide help in middle relief in 2015 behind a late-inning relief corps comprised of Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa and Edward Mujica.

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The Atlanta Braves traded right-handers David Hale and Gus Schlosser to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for catchers Jose Briceno and Chris O'Dowd.

Hale started four games for the Braves last season, but was moved to the bullpen in late April and spent almost the remainder of the season there – before making one more start in late September. He posted a 3.30 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 87 1/3 innings.

The 27-year-old was expected to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation for the Braves and will likely do the same with the Rockies.

Schlosser struggled in 2014 at both the major league and Triple-A level. The 26-year-old made 25 appearances (15 starts) with Gwinnett, going 7-6 with a 4.17 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 99 1/3 innings. He posted a 7.64 ERA and 1.64 WHIP in 17 2/3 innings of relief with Atlanta.

Briceno spent all of last season in Single-A, hitting .283/.336/.476 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs in 84 games.

O'Dowd, the son of former Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd, hit .271/.335/.385 with five home runs and 48 RBIs in 113 games split between Double and Single-A.

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Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Chris Withrow isn't expecting to play much of a role in 2015.

The 25-year-old, who continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery, told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that he's not expecting to be back until the end of the season.

Withrow was in the midst of a productive sophomore season before being diagnosed with a ligament tear in his right elbow in late May. In 20 appearances, the Dodgers 2007 first-round pick posted a 2.95 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings.

He also underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disk in his back.

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Oakland Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp will see no shortage of new faces once spring training rolls around in a little under a month.

While Crisp spent the winter preparing for his 14th season in the majors, his general manager, Billy Beane, occupied his time by tearing down and rebuilding the roster - making eight trades and one signing.

Though Beane has become notorious for making bold moves, it came to a shock to many members of the A's when he traded All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays in November.

"It's been a roller coaster," Crisp told John Hickey of the Oakland Tribune. "When they traded away Josh Donaldson, that was a tough one to swallow. He's the best player on the team, and now he's gone. It's tough, and it's tough on the fans."

The Athletics are set to feature an entirely new infield, though Crisp will find some familiarity with those flanked beside him in the outfield as both Josh Reddick and Sam Fuld return from last season.

POS PLAYER (2014)       PLAYER (2015)
C Derek Norris               Stephen Vogt
1B Brandon Moss           Ike Davis
2B Eric Sogard               Ben Zobrist
3B Josh Donaldson         Brett Lawrie
SS Jed Lowrie                Marcus Semien
LF Sam Fuld                  Sam Fuld
CF Coco Crisp               Coco Crisp
RF Josh Reddick           Josh Reddick
DH Alberto Callaspo     Billy Butler


If there is one thing that Crisp has learned over his five years playing in Oakland, it's that no player on the roster is untouchable. While it will be tough for the veteran to get over the loss of some of his teammates, he remains fully confident in his GM.

"Seeing some of the players we lost was hard to swallow," Crisp said. "You grow bonds with these guys. But all the moves that Billy has made have put together a pretty good team. We will be pretty competitive."

Last edited on Sun Feb 1st, 2015 09:08 am by lobo316

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lobo316 wrote: Oakland Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp will see no shortage of new faces once spring training rolls around in a little under a month.

While Crisp spent the winter preparing for his 14th season in the majors, his general manager, Billy Beane, occupied his time by tearing down and rebuilding the roster - making eight trades and one signing.

Though Beane has become notorious for making bold moves, it came to a shock to many members of the A's when he traded All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays in November.

"It's been a roller coaster," Crisp told John Hickey of the Oakland Tribune. "When they traded away Josh Donaldson, that was a tough one to swallow. He's the best player on the team, and now he's gone. It's tough, and it's tough on the fans."

The Athletics are set to feature an entirely new infield, though Crisp will find some familiarity with those flanked beside him in the outfield as both Josh Reddick and Sam Fuld return from last season.

POS PLAYER (2014)       PLAYER (2015)
C Derek Norris               Stephen Vogt
1B Brandon Moss           Ike Davis
2B Eric Sogard               Ben Zobrist
3B Josh Donaldson         Brett Lawrie
SS Jed Lowrie                Marcus Semien
LF Sam Fuld                  Sam Fuld
CF Coco Crisp               Coco Crisp
RF Josh Reddick           Josh Reddick
DH Alberto Callaspo     Billy Butler


If there is one thing that Crisp has learned over his five years playing in Oakland, it's that no player on the roster is untouchable. While it will be tough for the veteran to get over the loss of some of his teammates, he remains fully confident in his GM.

"Seeing some of the players we lost was hard to swallow," Crisp said. "You grow bonds with these guys. But all the moves that Billy has made have put together a pretty good team. We will be pretty competitive."
Last place in the AL West

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The Toronto Blue Jays search for a closer has gone international, with the signing of the Brazilian-Italian closer Tiago da Silva, who is known affectionately as “Shogun” by his fans. Some may recognize his name from Italy’s 2009 and 2013 World Baseball Classic teams.

Tiago da Silva, pitcher for @caribesanz and Italian national team, has signed a minor league contract with #BlueJays, per @chepalleblog.

— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 30, 2015

Tiago da Silva pitched for six years in the Italian Professional League, primarily as a starter. The level of competition in Italy certainly isn’t great, but regardless, da Silva put up a 41-12 record with a 2.00 career ERA, 0.925 WHIP and an encouraging K:BB ratio. Following his success in Italy, da Silva moved to the Mexican League for the 2014 season, which is often compared to AA baseball in terms of strength of competition.

With the Delfines de Ciudad del Carmen club, da Silva posted 29 saves on the season and dominated competition. His ERA held strong at 2.07 with a 0.902 WHIP, but most impressive was his 11.1 K/9. He is not a pitcher that relies on throwing the ball past hitters, and instead relies on an arsenal of off speed pitches to compliment his high-80’s fastball. While this video below is several years old and won’t receive much Academy Award consideration, it gives a very general outline of the 5’9 da Silva and his throwing motion, which is quite unique.

The Toronto Blue Jays must have had their eyes on the Venezuelan League through the winter, where da Silva has continued his success. He’s thrown 30.0 innings, allowing just three walks while striking out 37.

So where does da Silva fit in to the Blue Jays plans? This is one of Alex Anthopoulos’ more obscure signings in recent memory, so digging up scouting reports and film to project da Silva’s success isn’t easy. There does seem to be some serious buzz about his change up, which sounds like a bit of a molasses ball, so that will be something to keep an eye on through spring training. It has yet to be announced if da Silva received an invite, but I certainly assume he has.

While I’m not expecting much to come from this move until we see more of him, keep in mind that the MLB is full of stranger stories. Just on this roster, Steve Delabar was a school teacher, Edwin Encarnacion was a throw-in and Jose Bautista flirted with a negative WAR for the first half of his career. If da Silva can stick with the team and start the year off on the right foot, perhaps at AAA Buffalo, he could be an extremely interesting, albeit unpredictable, pitcher to keep an eye on.

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lobo316 wrote: The Philadelphia Phillies have signed right-hander Chad Billingsley to a one-year contract, the team announced Thursday.

The veteran will make $1.5 million in 2015, but can earn more with performance bonuses.

Billingsley, who boasts an 81-61 career record with a 3.65 ERA, is coming off elbow surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon, and became a free agent after the Los Angeles Dodgers declined his 2015 option.

The 30-year-old should provide depth in the Phillies' rotation should the club decide to deal Cole Hamels and/or Cliff Lee at some point.
I've always liked Billingsley. This is a good move and one I wish the Yankees had made instead of stiffs like Chris Capuano and Scott Baker.

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HBF wrote: lobo316 wrote: The Philadelphia Phillies have signed right-hander Chad Billingsley to a one-year contract, the team announced Thursday.

The veteran will make $1.5 million in 2015, but can earn more with performance bonuses.

Billingsley, who boasts an 81-61 career record with a 3.65 ERA, is coming off elbow surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon, and became a free agent after the Los Angeles Dodgers declined his 2015 option.

The 30-year-old should provide depth in the Phillies' rotation should the club decide to deal Cole Hamels and/or Cliff Lee at some point.
I've always liked Billingsley. This is a good move and one I wish the Yankees had made instead of stiffs like Chris Capuano and Scott Baker.
Hopefully he's finally healthy.  He's never had a losing record in the majors.  Too bad the Phillies are in a rebuild situation but I think he's better suited for the N.L.

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Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez made a strong enough impression during his rookie year to land the starting job this season.

The 24-year-old will receive the bulk of the work, according to manager John Farrell, while recent addition Ryan Hanigan will fill in as the backup.

"There's going to be a lead guy catching the majority of the games, and I'd say that would be Christian at this point," Farrell told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. "We've got a very capable tandem with Ryan and a guy that will help mentor Christian further and help push him for playing time."

Vazquez took over regular catching duties in July after the club designated A.J. Pierzynski for assignment. While the young backstop didn't terrorize the majors with his bat - hitting .240/.308/.309 with one home run in 55 games - he has been lauded for his defensive abilities and threw out 52 percent of base stealers.

Hanigan, who was acquired from the San Diego Padres in exchange for third baseman Will Middlebrooks, appeared in 84 games a season ago for the Tampa Bay Rays. The 34-year-old slashed .218/.318/.324 with five home runs and nine doubles in 263 plate appearances.

While Vazquez enters the season as the Red Sox's starter, he's likely keeping the seat warm for the organization's top prospect, Blake Swihart.

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Veteran pitcher Paul Maholm has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Cincinnati Reds, the team announced Sunday.

Terms of the deal were not released.

The 32-year-old Maholm appeared in 30 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season as he split his time between the starting staff and bullpen. He posted a pedestrian 4.84 ERA and struck out just 4.33 batters per nine innings.

Maholm has never boasted a big arm, but his fastball topped out at just 87.5 mph last season. He does manage to keep the ball on the ground - his career groundball percentage is 52.2 - but his history of conceding line drives and home runs at a high rate could be problematic.

Acquiring Maholm adds depth to the Reds' starting staff, as he could conceivably contend for the fifth spot in Cincinnati's rotation along with prospects Dylan Axelrod and Anthony DeSclafani.

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Jason Giambi could be back with the Cleveland Indians in 2015, but his name won't be appearing in any box scores.

Giambi, a five-time All-Star who made his MLB debut in 1995, reportedly has a standing offer to work for the team in a non-playing role, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

The 44-year-old spent the last two seasons with the Indians, collecting 11 home runs with a .622 on-base plus slugging in 97 games. General manager Chris Antonetti intimated in December that the club wouldn't be interested in retaining him as a player in 2015.

Antonetti, however, said the club was willing to offer Giambi a different position within the organization, though it remains unclear what his new role would entail.

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Andruw Jones opted to stay in Japan last season following a solid debut campaign with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2013, but the 37-year-old outfielder is reportedly looking to revive his MLB career after two years in the Pacific Rim.

Jones, a five-time All-Star during his halcyon days with the Atlanta Braves, "will be returning" to the majors, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Scott Boras, who represents Jones, said that at least two teams are interested in the Curacao native who posted a .232/.392/.441 line with 50 home runs over 281 games with Rakuten.

Jones last appeared in the majors in 2012, when he hit .197/.294/.408 (87 OPS+) with 14 home runs in 94 games with the New York Yankees. Over parts of 17 seasons in the big leagues, Jones owns a 111 OPS+ with 434 home runs and 152 stolen bases to go along with 10 Gold Glove awards.

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The Arizona Diamondbacks added to an area of weakness Monday by reportedly agreeing to a minor-league deal with veteran catcher Gerald Laird, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.

Laird has 13 major-league seasons under his belt and spent the last two years with the Atlanta Braves. In 53 games in 2014, the 35-year-old slashed .204/.275/.257 with eight doubles.

The Diamondbacks had been in search of a catcher after trading Miguel Montero to the Chicago Cubs in December, though general manager Dave Stewart conceded early last month that the club had not made much headway.

Laird's deal includes an invitation to spring training, where he'll compete for time with Tuffy Gosewisch and Rule 5 selection Oscar Hernandez until the organization's top catching prospect, Peter O'Brien, is ready to make the jump to the majors.

"I've decided that I'm not going to pursue another catcher," Stewart told Nick Piecoro of AZCentral in January. "I talked with my people and my coaching staff. They believe that O'Brien is going to be around sooner than later. If that does happen, there's no need to go out and get another guy.

"We would have had to trade somebody we didn't want to trade to make it happen. We're going to be patient and allow the progression of O'Brien to take place and stand pat on that."

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Giancarlo Stanton's face looked just fine as he judged the Miss Universe Pageant in January, more than four months after an errant pitch caused facial fractures and dental damage that ended his campaign prematurely.

Nevertheless, Stanton will wear a protective guard on his batting helmet when the Miami Marlins begin spring training later this month, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reports.

"There's no concerns on our part," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "We've worked closely with Giancarlo and the helmet manufacturer. He will wear a half-cage to protect the injured area. He's worked out with it."

Stanton, who signed a record-breaking 13-year, $325-million extension in November, tested his new gear during offseason workouts and is expected to wear the face guard throughout the year.

"All season I'll wear it, given it is comfortable vision-wise," Stanton said the day he signed. "Just to rule out any type of doubt. We'll see after the first year."

The 25-year-old outfielder enjoyed a mammoth season in 2014, leading the National League with 37 home runs while managing a career-best 6.1 wins above replacement over 145 games.

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The Colorado Rockies recently added another candidate to contend for a spot in the bullpen by agreeing to a minor-league contract with veteran reliever John Axford, according to the team's official transactions page.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports Axford's deal is worth $2.6 million with an additional $1-2 million in potential bonuses.

Once considered among the game's elite relievers, Axford has struggled over the last three seasons across stints with the Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates.

The 31-year-old fashioned a 3.95 ERA with a 1.45 WHIP over 62 appearances in 2014, posting an ugly 14.8 percent walk rate.

Axford, however, still managed a solid 25.9 percent strikeout rate while crafting a career-best 53.6 percent ground-ball rate in 54 2/3 innings last season.

The Canadian could provide help in middle relief to augment the late-inning contingent of LaTroy Hawkins, Adam Ottavino and Rex Brothers.

The Toronto Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds were reportedly among the teams interested in Axford this offseason.

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NEW YORK - Hall of Famer Frank Robinson is leaving his job as executive vice president for baseball development in the commissioner's office to become a senior adviser to Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Robinson also was appointed honorary president of the American League on Monday in place of former Angels owner Jackie Autry. She had held the job since its inception in 2001, after then-Commissioner Bud Selig persuaded owners to eliminate the league offices.

The 79-year-old Robinson hit 586 homers from 1956-76, won the American League Triple Crown with Baltimore in 1966 and became the first player to win MVP awards in both leagues, with Cincinnati in 1961 and the Orioles five years later.

He became the first African-American manager with Cleveland in 1975 and also managed San Francisco, Baltimore, Montreal and Washington. He was Major League Baseball's vice president of on-field operations (2000-02), a special adviser to the EVP of baseball operations (2007-09), a special assistant to the commissioner (2009-10 and 2011-12) and senior vice president for major league operations from (2010-11).

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Free agent infielder Wilson Betemit is among four players suspended by MLB on Monday after violating terms of the drug prevention and treatment program.

Betemit, 33, received a 50-game suspension without pay after testing positive for amphetamine use, the league announced in a statement. The 11-year veteran will serve the suspension immediately upon signing with another major league team.

Betemit most recently spent two seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, posting 12 homers and a .744 OPS over 108 games between 2012-13. He hit 18 homers and batted .217 last year with the Tampa Bay Rays' Triple-A affiliate in Durham.

The three other players who violated the minor league drug policies are Boston Red Sox minor league shortstop Ricardo Cubillan (76-game suspension for Nandrolone), San Francisco Giants pitcher Ethan Miller (50-game suspension for amphetamine use), and free-agent first baseman Tanner Norton (50-game suspension following a second positive test for a drug of abuse).

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Free agent left-hander Barry Zito will audition for a select group of major league teams Tuesday, his agent Scott Boras told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.

Zito, who didn't pitch last season, reportedly took a year off to "reboot" after completing his seven-year, $126-million deal with the San Francisco Giants in 2013. Boras noted in December that the 36-year-old was generating widespread interest during the winter meetings.

In his seven years in San Francisco, Zito failed to replicate the same success he enjoyed across the bay. He struggled mightily during his final season with the Giants, posting a 5.74 ERA and 1.70 WHIP across 133 1/3 innings, while his walk per nine rate between 2012-13 was the fourth highest among qualified National League starters.

Zito's run with the Oakland Athletics included six straight seasons of at least 200 innings and a 3.55 ERA with nine complete games. His efforts earned him the 2002 Cy Young after posting a league-leading 23 wins and career-best 2.75 ERA over 229 1/3 innings.

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On the heels of arguably the most difficult season of his eight-year career, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton's 2015 campaign is off to a frustrating start.

The Angels announced that the 33-year-old will undergo surgery on Wednesday to repair the AC joint in his right shoulder. He's expected to resume baseball activities in three-to-eight weeks.

The procedure will shave his clavicle bone in order to avoid irritation. The ailment reportedly has nothing to do with Hamilton's rotator cuff of labrum, according Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com.

Hamilton was limited to a career-low 89 games last season due to a multitude of injuries, that were highlighted by surgery to repair the UCL in his left thumb that sidelined him for 48 games.

The five-time All-Star missed 11 games in September with soreness in the same shoulder and he took some extra time off over the winter in hopes that rest would correct the issue. The Angels claim that Hamilton's symptoms resurfaced this past week when he started swinging more aggressively.

"We had no inclination this would be a problem," general manager Jerry Dipoto told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

Hamilton, who has three years, $90.2-million remaining on his deal, has slashed .255/.316/.426 with 31 home runs and 266 strikeouts in 240 games over two seasons with the Angels.

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Free-agent right-hander Kyle Kendrick has reportedly agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Colorado Rockies.

The deal is worth $5.5 million and includes $500,000 in bonuses if he reaches 190 innings pitched in 2015, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Kendrick has averaged 180 innings per year over his last three seasons.

Kendrick, 30, spent his entire career with the Philadelphia Phillies, pitching to a 4.42 ERA and 1.37 WHIP across eight seasons. The Houston native was taken by the Phillies out of high school in the seventh round of the 2003 draft.

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The Boston Red Sox continue to fail to make progress on a potential deal to acquire Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels due to their unwillingness to part with their top prospect.

The Phillies have reportedly insisted that Blake Swihart be included in a potential pursuit of their All-Star left-hander, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports, but the Red Sox continue to refuse.

Hamels and the Red Sox have played tug of war with each other the entire offseason. It was reported in January that the Phillies requested that either Swihart or Mookie Betts be included in the deal, though the Red Sox declined.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro has been unsettled when deciding Hamel's fate with the team going through a rebuild and has set that cost of acquiring the three-time All-Star at a premium.

"He's one of the best pitchers in baseball," Amaro told Jake Kaplan of Philly.com in late January. "And so, if we were to move him, we're going to have to get some of the best prospects in baseball back."

Nightengale notes that there are five or six teams still trying to trade for Hamels, though no one has come close to meeting the team's demands.

Hamels, who has four years, $94 million remaining on his contract, posted a 17-23 record to go with a 3.05 ERA and 1.15 WHIP over the past two seasons.

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The Baltimore Orioles traded utility man Steve Lombardozzi to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday in exchange for cash, the Pirates announced.

It's the second deal executed by the two teams in a week, as the Pirates traded outfielder Travis Snider to the Orioles for a player to be named later, though Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune reported Lombardozzi is not that player.

After playing the first three seasons of his career with the Washington Nationals, Lombardozzi was traded to the Detroit Tigers before being flipped to the Orioles in March. In 20 games last season, the 26-year-old switch-hitter slashed .288/.297/.329 with 14 strikeouts while playing exclusively at second base.

Lombardozzi featured in 244 games for the Nationals from 2012-2013, hitting .267/.301/.347 with 31 doubles and five home runs. He saw time defensively in left field, third base, second base and one game at shortstop.

The Pirates will have no shortage of infielders at spring training as Lombardozzi joins a bench that already contains Jung-ho Kang and Sean Rodriguez.

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Veteran free-agent reliever Phil Coke has received interest from at least two American League teams, as the left-hander has reportedly thrown for the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.

The 32-year-old spent the last five seasons with the Detroit Tigers and was used in mostly low-leverage situations in 2014, posting a 3.88 ERA and 41 strikeouts over 58 innings.

Coke's struggled against right-handed hitting throughout his seven-year career, allowing them to post a .303/.376/.442 slash line, though his numbers against lefties have been a little more favorable. In 786 career plate appearances, left-hander's are hitting .243/.297/.352.

The Blue Jays have been in search for bullpen help. They reportedly agreed to a minor-league deal with Ronald Belisario last week before it feel through and he signed with the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Rangers could use another left-hander in the pen after trading Robbie Ross to the Boston Red Sox.

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The Baltimore Orioles outfield bargain hunting continued Tuesday with the acquisition of a familiar face.

After already signing Delmon Young and trading for Travis Snider earlier in the offseason, the Orioles have reportedly inked Nolan Reimold to a minor-league deal, according to Roch Kubatko of MASN.

The signing reunites Reimold with the team he spent five of his six major league seasons with.

Selected in the second round of the 2005 draft, Reimold has seen his career hampered by injuries. He appeared in 286 games over five seasons in Baltimore before the Toronto Blue Jays selected him off waivers last July.

The 31-year-old played in 29 games last season, split between the Blue Jays and Arizona Diamondbacks, hitting .232/.282/.435 with three home runs.

Following the departure of both Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz to free agency, Reimold will head into spring training with the Orioles competing for time in the outfield corners with Alejandro De Aza, Snider and Young.

The Cleveland Indians and Oakland Athletics were reportedly also interested in Reimold.

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SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Padres have signed catcher Wil Nieves to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

The 37-year-old Nieves originally signed with the Padres after they took him in the 47th round of the 1995 amateur draft.

Nieves played in 28 games with the Padres in 2002 before being released. He's also played for the New York Yankees, Washington, Milwaukee, Colorado, Arizona and Philadelphia.

He's a career .243 hitter with nine homers and 110 RBIs.

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James Shields has received multiple offers and is expected to sign by the end of this week, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

Following a disappointing postseason performance, Shields saw his market and value diminish. Initially believed to be seeking a deal in the range of five-years and north of $100 million, numerous teams backed off in their pursuit of the 33-year-old.

The demand for Shields picked back up in recent weeks as Shields' price lowered. While the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks openly said they have halted their pursuit of the former All-Star, the St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres, Miami Marlins, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays have all been linked to Shields to various degrees over recent weeks.

Shields has reached the 200-inning plateau in each of the last eight seasons. The right-hander posted a 27-17 record and 3.18 ERA over the past two seasons with the Kansas City Royals, striking out 376 over 455 2/3 innings. However, he owns a 3-6 record and 5.46 ERA across 11 postseason starts.

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Torrie is back on the market




Alex Rodriguez is newly single after splitting up with longtime girlfriend Torrie Wilson, and the New York Yankees don't seem particularly enthused about the 39-year-old's return to bachelorhood.

Rodriguez will attempt in 2015 to revive his career after a year-long suspension, and at least one team Yankees official voiced his displeasure when he heard that the 14-time All-Star is back on the market.

"Torrie is a lovely girl," the source told the New York Post. "The last thing Alex needs now is to be single, dating and distracted by women."

Another source noted that the couple's relationship of more than three years recently ended due to Rodriguez's "flirtations with other women" and the continuing presence of his ex-wife, Cynthia, in his life.

Despite Rodriguez's romantic tribulations, one source close to him insisted the three-time MVP award winner is focused on baseball this winter.

It remains unclear, however, how Yankees manager Joe Girardi will integrate Rodriguez back into the lineup this season, as Chase Headley is expected to land the everyday job at third base.

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lobo316 wrote: James Shields has received multiple offers and is expected to sign by the end of this week, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

Following a disappointing postseason performance, Shields saw his market and value diminish. Initially believed to be seeking a deal in the range of five-years and north of $100 million, numerous teams backed off in their pursuit of the 33-year-old.

The demand for Shields picked back up in recent weeks as Shields' price lowered. While the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks openly said they have halted their pursuit of the former All-Star, the St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres, Miami Marlins, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays have all been linked to Shields to various degrees over recent weeks.

Shields has reached the 200-inning plateau in each of the last eight seasons. The right-hander posted a 27-17 record and 3.18 ERA over the past two seasons with the Kansas City Royals, striking out 376 over 455 2/3 innings. However, he owns a 3-6 record and 5.46 ERA across 11 postseason starts.


 

 

As spring training draws nearer, it appears veteran right-hander James Shields will have to settle for a contract that doesn't come close to the nine-figure deal he was reportedly seeking when the offseason began.

"(Shields) was an obvious $100-million guy, who now if he signs for $60 million he’ll be lucky," one baseball agent told Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star.

Though Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported Tuesday that Shields is expected to sign by the end of the week, it's unlikely his new deal will even approximate the $110-million offer he reportedly rejected in January.

"I feel bad for the guy," one agent said. "But he should have looked at what happened to (Kyle) Lohse and Ervin (Santana)."

Lohse attempted to wait out the market following the 2012 campaign in the hopes of landing a mammoth contract, but ended up settling for a three-year, $33-million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. Santana, meanwhile, attempted a similar tactic last winter, but ultimately inked a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves after the market for his services crumbled. 

The lack of available resources could've caused Shields' market to collapse, one agent noted, as most teams allocated the majority of their 2015 budget earlier this winter.

"I don't know if in February you’re going to find a team with the money (Shields) is looking for, unless you heavily backload it," he said.

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The Chicago White Sox officially parted ways with outfielder Dayan Viciedo on Wednesday, releasing the 25-year-old one week after designating him for assignment to accommodate Gordon Beckham on the 40-man roster.

Viciedo signed with the White Sox in 2008 after defecting from his native Cuba, but stumbled through an underwhelming stint in Chicago in which he did little besides hit for power. Though he averaged 20 home runs per season from 2012-14, Viciedo's undisciplined plate approach yielded a meager .294 on-base percentage and he was consistently a defensive liability in the outfield.

The White Sox will be forced to pay Viciedo a sum of $733,000 this season, however, to cover one-sixth of his non-guaranteed $4.4-million arbitration salary.

Over parts of five seasons with the White Sox, Viciedo hit .254/.298/.424 (96 OPS+) with 66 home runs and a 21.6 percent strikeout rate in 483 games.

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The Texas Rangers added a familiar face to their list of spring training invitees Wednesday by agreeing to a minor league contract with outfielder Ryan Ludwick, reports Jeff Wilson of the Fort-Worth Star Telegram.

Ludwick made his MLB debut with Texas back in 2002, appearing in 31 games for the Rangers over parts of two seasons before being traded to the Cleveland Indians in July of 2003. Over parts of 12 seasons in the big leagues, Ludwick has compiled 154 home runs and a 110 OPS+ while earning an All-Star berth with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008.

Ludwick, however, struggled with the Cincinnati Reds last season, hitting just .244/.308/.375 with nine home runs over 112 games. The 36-year-old could compete this spring for a spot on the Rangers' bench, which is currently devoid of appealing right-handed hitters.

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The St. Louis Cardinals will allow Carlos Villanueva to compete for a job in spring training after agreeing Wednesday to a minor-league contract with the veteran right-hander.

Villanueva, who turned 31 in November, boasts considerable experience as both a starter and reliever in the major leagues and has spent the majority of his nine-year career vacillating between roles. He spent the 2014 campaign with the Chicago Cubs, managing a 4.64 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP over five starts and 37 relief appearances.

Villanueva could serve a similar function for the Cardinals, offering a reliable right-hander out of the bullpen who's capable of making the occasional start. Throughout his career, however, Villanueva has enjoyed far more success as a reliever.

SPLIT             G     ERA    SO/W    OPS
as Starter      76    5.00    2.40     0.805
as Reliever   314   3.55    2.74     0.671

Last edited on Thu Feb 5th, 2015 02:10 am by lobo316

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Prosecutors won't pursue charges against Cleveland Indians pitcher Danny Salazar, police said Wednesday.

Salazar was reportedly investigated in connection with an alleged sexual assault on Jan. 23, but prosecutors have closed the case after detectives presented the evidence, according to multiple reports.

The Indians issued a statement earlier Wednesday upon learning of the investigation.

"We are aware of an investigation involving Danny," said Indians general manager Chris Antonetti. "Since this potentially could become a legal matter, we won't have any additional comment at this time."

Salazar, who signed with the Indians as an amateur free agent in 2006, is expected to open the season in Cleveland's rotation after fashioning a 4.25 ERA with a 3.43 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 20 starts last season.

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SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San Jose City Council wants the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a lawsuit that aims to stop Major League Baseball from blocking the Oakland Athletics' proposed move to the city.

The San Jose Mercury News reports the council unanimously voted to pursue the appeal Tuesday. It's unclear whether the high court will choose to hear the case.

A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled unanimously last month that the antitrust claims in San Jose's lawsuit are barred by baseball's antitrust exemption established by the Supreme Court in 1922.

The A's have been unable to go to San Jose because the San Francisco Giants have territorial rights over Santa Clara County and object to the move.

San Jose sued MLB in 2013 for conspiring to block the relocation.

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The Milwaukee Brewers agreed to terms with free-agent pitcher Chris Perez on a minor league contract Wednesday.

Perez, who saved 123 games for the Cleveland Indians between 2010-13, will compete for a spot in the Brewers bullpen this spring. Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports Perez can earn up to $3 million if he makes the team out of camp and successfully triggers his bonuses.

The 29-year-old reliever signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers last winter and pitched to mixed results over 49 appearances. He posted a 4.27 ERA and struck out 39 batters in 46 1/3 innings in 2014, but bone spurs in his ankle caused the seven-year veteran to miss a month of the second half.

Perez, a two-time All-Star, was taken by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the 2006 draft.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates bolstered their bullpen depth Wednesday by acquiring right-hander Arquimedes Caminero from the Miami Marlins in exchange for cash considerations.

Caminero, 27, was designated for assignment last week after logging just six relief appearances with the Marlins in 2014. The Dominican native managed a 10.80 ERA with a 1.80 WHIP over 6 2/3 innings last season, notching eight strikeouts while issuing four walks in his limited time at the major league level.

Caminero spent the majority of the campaign in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he compiled a 4.86 ERA over 42 appearances but averaged 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings with the New Orleans Zephyrs.

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Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez will undergo major knee surgery for the second time in the last four years Tuesday after tearing his left medial meniscus, the team announced.

Martinez, who signed a four-year deal with the Tigers earlier this offseason, missed the entire 2012 campaign after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament during offseason workouts.

Noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews will perform surgery on Martinez in Florida on Tuesday, at which point the Tigers will provide a further update. Though the club did not offer an estimated recovery time, cartilage injuries aren't considered as serious as those involving ligament damage.

Martinez, a five-time All-Star, enjoyed the finest offensive season of his career in 2014, leading the majors with a .974 OPS while smashing a career-high 32 home runs over 151 games. Martinez will earn $14 million in 2015, the first season of $68-million contract he signed in November.

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The Boston Red Sox reportedly agreed Thursday to a three-year, $19.25-million deal with left-hander Wade Miley that ensures the club will never head to an arbitration hearing with the newly acquired 28-year-old, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.

Acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this offseason, Miley will earn an average salary of $6.4 million through his three seasons of arbitration-eligibility. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Miley's new deal also includes a $12-million team option for the 2018 campaign with a $500,000 buyout.

Miley will be expected in 2015 to assume a prominent role within a revamped rotation that includes fellow offseason additions Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson. Though he fashioned a 4.34 ERA over 33 starts in 2014 - his worst mark since his 2011 debut, wherein he managed a 4.50 ERA across 40 innings - Miley also posted a career-best 21.1 percent strikeout rate in 201 1/3 innings.

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This guy lost his hearing. Must be nice.



Mat Latos' decision to head to an arbitration hearing with his new team didn't yield the desired result for the 27-year-old.

The Miami Marlins reportedly presented a stronger case to the three-person arbitration panel Wednesday and will consequently pay Latos $9.4 million in 2015 instead of the $10.4-million salary he was seeking, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Acquired by the Marlins in December from the Cincinnati Reds, Latos earned $7.25 million last year and was seeking a raise of more than $3 million for the 2015 campaign, his final season of arbitration-eligibility.

Latos is expected to claim a top spot in Miami's rotation in the absence of Jose Fernandez, who's still recovering from Tommy John surgery, though the newly acquired right-hander is coming off an injury-riddled campaign.

Separate knee and elbow problems limited Latos to just 16 starts in 2014, wherein he managed a 3.25 ERA but posted underwhelming peripheral statistics while battling a marked decline in velocity.

SEASON   ERA   FIP     K%         HR/9
2013       3.16   3.10  21.2 %    0.60
2014       3.25   3.65  17.6 %    0.79

Last edited on Fri Feb 6th, 2015 01:11 am by lobo316

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The Cincinnati Reds understand that keeping Johnny Cueto on the mound long-term in Ohio might not be within their means.

Entering the final year of his contract on the heels of a season that saw the right-hander finish second in National League Cy Young voting to Clayton Kershaw, Cueto is fully expected to receive an impressive raise from the $10 million he's set to earn in 2015.

Cueto's agent has given the team until Opening Day to negotiate a contract extension before he tables conversations, and while Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said the team will attempt to put its best offer together, he didn't sound overly optimistic in getting a deal done.

"With Johnny, we'll never say 'never.' We are going to do everything we can to try and come up with some sort of plan to keep him," Jocketty said on MLB Network's Hot Stove. "I'm not sure we'll be able to, because the numbers are obviously starting to skyrocket and it's very tough in our market to continue to retain guys at a high price like that. We'll continue to work on that and see where it comes out."

With Max Scherzer and Jon Lester fetching $210 million and $155 million respectively this offseason, the time for an elite pitcher to hit free agency has never been better.

Cueto, 29, owns a 44-20 record and 2.54 ERA over the past three seasons, while striking out 463 in 521 1/3 innings over that time. What's more impressive is the fact that the two-time All-Star has achieved such success while pitching at hitter friendly Great American Ballpark.

If he fails to reach an agreement with the Reds, Cueto joins an impressive list of potential free agents next offseason in David Price, Jordan Zimmermann, Hisashi Iwakuma and Zack Greinke.

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The Texas Rangers have agreed to terms with outfielder Nate Schierholtz on a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, according to multiple reports.

Schierholtz split last season between the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals after posting career highs in homers (21) and doubles (32) the previous year.

The veteran left-handed hitter owns a career .720 OPS against right-handed pitching and he'll likely compete for a left-field platoon role with the Rangers this spring.

Schierholtz, who turns 31 this month, spent his first six seasons in San Francisco after the Giants selected him in the second round of the 2003 draft. He appeared in 137 games during the club's 2010 World Series year.

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Commissioner Rob Manfred says baseball could adopt a Super Bowl-style bidding process to determine the host city of the All-Star Game.

Manfred said Friday he's considering a change to the current format that generally awards the game to alternating American and National League cities. That practice, which has been in place for 82 years, hasn't been strictly enforced. Cincinnati and San Diego, both NL cities, are hosting the next two All-Star Games.

Manfred mentioned the possible change during an interview with ESPN reporters who asked whether Chicago could be in line to host the game once renovations to Wrigley Field are complete.

"One of the things that I am going to try to do with All-Star Games is - and we'll make some announcements in the relatively short-term - I am looking to be in more of a competitive-bidding, Super Bowl-awarding-type mode, as opposed to (saying), 'You know, I think Chicago is a good idea,'" he said.

More from ESPN's Jayson Stark:

Manfred did not specify how that bidding would work. However, sources say that rather than choosing cities based on which league they're in, All-Star Game hosts will be chosen in the future based on the merits of the city and ballpark, and which team and city can produce the best "All-Star experience." But the process will be complicated, at least initially, by other factors.

"In getting all these ballparks built, we made a lot of promises to cities about getting All-Star Games," (Bud) Selig said at last month's owners meetings. So sources say MLB will honor those commitments, meaning that teams such as the Marlins and Nationals, with newer parks that have never hosted an All-Star Game, could jump ahead of more established franchises, such as the Orioles, Indians, Dodgers and Cubs, in the bidding process.

ESPN reports the bidding process could begin as early as 2017.

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Michael Jordan shocked the sports world on Feb. 7, 1994.

The legendary basketball player, who retired from the game in October 1993, signed a minor-league baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox.

Jordan made a heavy-hearted decision to honor the dream of his deceased father, who always envisioned him as a Major League Baseball player. He hit .202 with three home runs, 51 RBIs and stole 30 bases in 127 games for the Birmingham Barons, the Double-A affiliate of the White Sox, also owned by Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf.

Jordan would also suit up for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League in 1994 before his baseball career was derailed by the MLB players' strike, setting the stage for his triumphant return to the hardcourt in 1995.

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The Cincinnati Reds made a pair of moves to improve their bullpen depth Saturday.

Right-hander Burke Badenhop has inked a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2016, and former closer Kevin Gregg signed a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training, the Reds announced.

Badenhop will earn $1 million in 2015, and his 2016 option is for $4 million with a $1.5-million buyout, according to Jonah Keri. Gregg's deal consists of a $1.5-million base salary plus incentives for games and games finished, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports.

Left-hander Ismael Guillon was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for Badenhop, who posted a 2.29 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and collected 13 holds for the Boston Red Sox in 2014.

Gregg, 36, appeared in 12 games for the Miami Marlins, allowing 10 earned runs in nine innings pitched before suffering a season-ending elbow injury. He does, however, own 177 career saves.

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The days of John Jaso taking foul balls off the mask appear to be over.

After spending six seasons behind the plate resulting in two lengthy stints on the disabled list over the past two years with concussion symptoms, the Tampa Bay Rays believe having Jaso healthy and in the lineup is more important than having him catching.

Acquired in a deal with the Oakland Athletics in January, the Rays have informed Jaso that he will be used primarily as the team's designated hitter, while also getting some work in the outfield and at first base. He will only catch in an emergency situation.

"We have an understanding that they want me to hit, and putting me in the instance where I could be in harm's way – where I would then be on the bench for the rest of the year – that's not worth it at this point," Jaso told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Jaso slashed .264/.337/.430 with nine home runs and 18 doubles last season, but was limited to 99 games after suffering a concussion in late August that sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

The 31-year-old did act as the Athletics' DH in 35 games in 2014, but admitted that preparing for that role on a full-time basis will take some getting used to.

"It's definitely going to be different," Jaso said. "I'm going to just have to see how it is. I have no idea. The Big Papi program? I don't know. … This will be kind of the first time for me."

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James Shields apparently couldn't resist the appeal of pitching at home.

The San Diego Padres agreed to terms with Shields late Sunday on a four-year deal worth between $72 million and $76 million, according to SB Nation's Chris Cotillo.

Shields was reportedly mulling offers from several teams, including the Miami Marlins and Chicago Cubs, before settling on what will be the richest free-agent contract in Padres history. The deal reportedly includes a club option for a fifth year.

The Cubs, in particular, appeared to make a late push to land the coveted right-hander in a bid to reunite him with his former Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon.

In the end, the California native favored the Padres, who cap their unbelievable offseason by securing an established frontline starting pitcher on what appears to be a hometown discount.

Padres general manager A.J. Preller has already spent nearly $200 million in overhauling his roster this winter, and with the notable exception of Shields, most of it has been through trade.

The first-year GM stunned the baseball world in December when he acquired Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and Justin Upton in three blockbuster deals in one week. Preller's offseason also included trading for All-Star catcher Derek Norris, team-friendly deals for pitchers Brandon Morrow and Josh Johnson, adding bullpen depth, and taking a flier on third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

But none of those moves carry quite the same weight as Shields' record-breaking contract.

Shields is coming off two productive years in Kansas City, where the right-hander pitched to a 3.18 ERA over consecutive 200-inning seasons. The 33-year-old saw his strikeout rate decline in back-to-back years, though his velocity remains at a career-high level and he issued his fewest walks since 2008.

YEAR    IP        K/9     ERA   WHIP
2011  249.1   8.12   2.82   1.04
2012  227.2   8.82   3.52   1.17
2013  228.2   7.71   3.15   1.24
2014  227.0   7.14   3.21   1.18


Despite consistently providing above-average results during his nine-year career, Shields found himself a distant third among the crop of free agent pitchers this offseason. The top two arms, Max Scherzer and Jon Lester, secured $210-million and $155-million deals respectively, but neither has made more starts or had a better ERA and WHIP than Shields since 2011.

Although most of the attention this winter has been on Preller's offensive makeover, the Padres managed to improve their team without dismantling a solid starting rotation.

Shields now headlines a staff that includes Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, and Ian Kennedy. The club also boasts plenty of back-end depth that could allow it to move one of the aforementioned pitchers - Kennedy, for instance, is a free agent at the end of the 2015 season - in an effort to shore up one of its many pre-existing holes, which include shortstop and third base.

The Royals will receive San Diego's first-round draft pick this year as compensation for Shields rejecting the club's $15.3-million qualifying offer earlier this offseason.

Last edited on Mon Feb 9th, 2015 05:09 pm by lobo316

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Billy Beane says there's a method for his offseason madness.

The Oakland Athletics general manager created quite a stir this winter after dealing away several All-Stars, including Josh Donaldson, Derek Norris and Jeff Samardzija, following the club's heart-breaking wild-card loss to the Kansas City Royals.

Beane's reshuffling also saw Brandon Moss traded to Cleveland and free agent Jon Lester walk for nothing – not to mention last year's in-season loss of Yoenis Cespedes.

For a while, it was looking like Beane was ready to tear his entire 88-win roster apart. Even Beane's acquisitions left his critics scratching their heads, particularly Billy Butler's three-year, $30-million free-agent contract.

Alas, after a flurry of underrated moves, Beane's offseason plan is finally coming into focus. Hate mail notwithstanding.

"I can promise you," Beane told Jane Lee of MLB.com on Sunday, "I don't wake up in the morning and go, 'how can I make everyone mad today?'"

Beane's nine-trade offseason involving 27 players, plus free-agent signings, has outfitted the club with a new infield, more pitching depth and a restocked farm system. It's all by design, says the longtime executive.

"I'm too old to be on a five-year rebuild," he said. "Every game is precious in the major leagues, and we treat it that way. Sometimes we do it at the risk of trading some younger players, but I can tell you, we want to win every single game. I get cranky in spring training when we don't win games. So, the term 'rebuild,' we don't try to use that around here often."

#  POS.  PROJECTED LINEUP
1  CF     Coco Crisp (S)
2  2B     Ben Zobrist (S)
3  RF     Josh Reddick (L)
4  DH    Billy Butler
5  1B    Ike Davis (L)
6  3B    Brett Lawrie
7   C     Stephen Vogt (L)
8  SS    Marcus Semien
9  LF    Sam Fuld (L)
(Courtesy: RosterResource)

Beane's wheeling and dealing, which included the acquisitions of Brett Lawrie, Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard, has even won over his harshest critics.

Veteran outfielder Josh Reddick, who voiced initial displeasure with the Donaldson trade, said Beane has since regained his trust.

"Everybody is overlooking us again, with what the (Los Angeles) Angels and (Seattle) Mariners have done," he said, "but we've got some great pieces in return for what we lost. (Beane) knows exactly what he's doing every year."

Last edited on Mon Feb 9th, 2015 05:13 pm by lobo316

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lobo316 wrote: Billy Beane says there's a method for his offseason madness.

The Oakland Athletics general manager created quite a stir this winter after dealing away several All-Stars, including Josh Donaldson, Derek Norris and Jeff Samardzija, following the club's heart-breaking wild-card loss to the Kansas City Royals.

Beane's reshuffling also saw Brandon Moss traded to Cleveland and free agent Jon Lester walk for nothing – not to mention last year's in-season loss of Yoenis Cespedes.

For a while, it was looking like Beane was ready to tear his entire 88-win roster apart. Even Beane's acquisitions left his critics scratching their heads, particularly Billy Butler's three-year, $30-million free-agent contract.

Alas, after a flurry of underrated moves, Beane's offseason plan is finally coming into focus. Hate mail notwithstanding.

"I can promise you," Beane told Jane Lee of MLB.com on Sunday, "I don't wake up in the morning and go, 'how can I make everyone mad today?'"

Beane's nine-trade offseason involving 27 players, plus free-agent signings, has outfitted the club with a new infield, more pitching depth and a restocked farm system. It's all by design, says the longtime executive.

"I'm too old to be on a five-year rebuild," he said. "Every game is precious in the major leagues, and we treat it that way. Sometimes we do it at the risk of trading some younger players, but I can tell you, we want to win every single game. I get cranky in spring training when we don't win games. So, the term 'rebuild,' we don't try to use that around here often."

#  POS.  PROJECTED LINEUP
1  CF     Coco Crisp (S)
2  2B     Ben Zobrist (S)
3  RF     Josh Reddick (L)
4  DH    Billy Butler
5  1B    Ike Davis (L)
6  3B    Brett Lawrie
7   C     Stephen Vogt (L)
8  SS    Marcus Semien
9  LF    Sam Fuld (L)
(Courtesy: RosterResource)

Beane's wheeling and dealing, which included the acquisitions of Brett Lawrie, Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard, has even won over his harshest critics.

Veteran outfielder Josh Reddick, who voiced initial displeasure with the Donaldson trade, said Beane has since regained his trust.

"Everybody is overlooking us again, with what the (Los Angeles) Angels and (Seattle) Mariners have done," he said, "but we've got some great pieces in return for what we lost. (Beane) knows exactly what he's doing every year."

last place

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ATLANTA - The Braves are bringing back former first baseman Fred McGriff and ex-hitting coach Greg Walker.

John Hart, Atlanta's president of baseball operations, announced the hiring of McGriff and Walker as special assistants on Monday.

McGriff played with the Braves from 1993-97, helping the team win the 1995 World Series. The five-time All-Star finished his 19-year career with a .284 average, 493 homers and 1,550 RBIs.

Walker served as Atlanta's hitting coach the last three years. He stepped down after the disappointing 2014 season, in which the Braves ranked next-to-last in runs scored and near the bottom of the majors in homers and batting average.

McGriff will attend spring training and focus on professional scouting during the season. Walker will work primarily work with minor league hitters during spring training.

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Amid ceaseless trade speculation, Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. reiterated Monday he expects Cole Hamels to take the mound on Opening Day against the Boston Red Sox.

"I would expect him to be in spring training with the Phillies," Amaro told ESPN's Jayson Stark. "And I would expect him to be our Opening Day starter. I don't know that for sure. That could change in a phone call or two, just like with anyone else. But I would expect him to be in camp."

However, Amaro didn't completely dismiss the possibility of trading Hamels during spring training now that all three of the premium starters available in free agency - Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, and James Shields - have found new homes.

"As long as he's still with us, there's a chance something could happen," Amaro said. "I can't really handicap it. It certainly seems likely he'll be in camp with us, but it can change. Guys get hurt in spring training a lot. Teams can have different assessments of where they are as they begin to look at their club. There's a whole slew of different circumstances that could affect how teams view their club. So maybe somebody could change course."

Amaro acknowledged, though, that trading Hamels might not be easy. The 31-year-old wields a partial no-trade clause and teams in discussion with the Phillies said Amaro would need to win the deal in order to move the three-time All-Star.

"Cole is a unique situation. (To acquire him) requires talent and money," Amaro said. "So it's a totally different dynamic than it would be for someone to acquire one of the free agents. So I'm not really sure what the direct impact is, or whether there is a direct impact."

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Chicago White Sox speedster Tony Campana will likely miss the 2015 season after tearing his ACL during training, the team announced Tuesday.

Campana, who signed a minor league contract with the White Sox this winter, was expected to compete for a spot on the 25-man roster.

The 28-year-old outfielder appeared in 44 games last season split between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Angels, and hit just .187 over 76 plate appearances.

Campana enjoyed his most productive years during his first two seasons in the league, swiping 54 bases in 184 games as a member of the Chicago Cubs from 2011-12.

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John McDonald is set to reunite with the Cleveland Indians mere weeks after announcing his retirement following a 16-year major league career.

McDonald, who made his MLB debut with the Indians in 1999 and spent parts of seven seasons with the club, will join the team's front office to work on minor-league infield development, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Though McDonald never enjoyed much success with the bat throughout his career, the former 12th-round pick hung around due to his remarkable defensive skills at shortstop. McDonald, who turned 40 in September, played for eight teams throughout his career, often endearing himself to fans with his defensive prowess.

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Finally, some good news for the Detroit Tigers.

The team said it's optimistic designated hitter Victor Martinez will be ready for the start of the season after undergoing surgery Tuesday to repair his torn left meniscus.

"We are happy the surgery went well and that Victor will be ready to compete for the start of the 2015 season," Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said in a statement.

Martinez, who's expected to resume full activities in four-to-six weeks, underwent medial menisectomy surgery on his left knee after tearing it during a recent workout. The procedure was performed by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla.

"I would say based on Dr. Andrews' assessment that this is about as good of news that we could have hoped for," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. The plan, according to the team, will be to keep Martinez in crutches until the swelling in his knee subsides.

Martinez's prognosis is especially encouraging for a Tigers club still uncertain about when injured slugger Miguel Cabrera will return. The two-time MVP is recovering from offseason ankle surgery and a status update isn't expected until next week at the earliest.

There was particular concern over Martinez's latest injury after he missed the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL in the same knee.

Martinez, 36, has been a model of good health ever since, appearing in 310 games since 2013 - the most of his career over a two-year stretch.

"Vic was in great shape prior to the surgery," Tigers athletic trainer Kevin Rand told reporters. "That should really bode well for his rehab."

The switch-hitting veteran enjoyed his finest season to date in 2014, clubbing a career-high 32 homers and pacing the majors with a .974 OPS. Martinez was rewarded for his efforts this past winter, inking a four-year, $68-million contract to stay with the Tigers.

An Opening Day lineup featuring both Cabrera and Martinez would go a long way in helping the club cope with the loss of Max Scherzer, who signed a $210-million deal the Washington Nationals this winter after spending the last five seasons in Detroit.

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Embattled slugger Alex Rodriguez was given an opportunity Tuesday to clear the air with the New York Yankees organization.

The Yankees third baseman, who was suspended for the entire 2014 season for his involvement with alleged steroid-distribution ring Biogenesis, met with top executives of the club to offer a face-to-face apology in a meeting that reportedly lasted 90 minutes.

"(Tuesday) we held a meeting at Yankee Stadium between Hal Steinbrenner, Randy Levine, Brian Cashman, Jean Afterman, Alex Rodriguez and Jim Sharp," a joint statement from the Yankees read. "Alex initiated the meeting and apologized to the organization for his actions over the past several years.

"There was an honest and frank discussion on all of the issues. As far as the Yankees are concerned, the next step is to play baseball in spring training."

The meeting comes after the Yankees had reportedly declined the 14-time All-Star's request to have an in-person discussion before spring training arrived.

Rodriguez and the Yankees have been entangled in a messy relationship for years, which became tabloid fodder in 2013 after the active home-run leader was suspended for allegedly taking performance-enhancing drugs supplied by the now-defunct Miami anti-aging clinic. The three-time MVP appealed his 211-game suspension and played out the remainder of the season before an arbitrator reduced his ban to 162 games, making him ineligible to play in 2014.

The relationship took a further turn for the worse after Rodriguez sued a team doctor for malpractice for allegedly misdiagnosing a hip injury. Rodriguez, who admitted to past PED use in 2009, later dropped the suit, in addition to separate lawsuits he filed against Major League Baseball.

Although Rodriguez is supposedly in great shape and has been involved in offseason training with home-run king Barry Bonds, the condition of the 20-year veteran's hip is of major concern after multiple operations.

HR   PLAYER            HR
1     Barry Bonds     762
2     Hank Aaron      755
3     Babe Ruth        714
4     Willie Mays       660
5     Alex Rodriguez 654
6     Ken Griffey Jr.  630
7     Jim Thome       612
8     Sammy Sosa    609
9     Frank Robinson 586
10   Mark McGwire    583

 


Tuesday's apology was the latest in Rodriguez's attempt to repair burned bridges before he takes the field for the first time since September 2013. He reportedly recently met with commissioner Rob Manfred, who played a key role in the Biogenesis investigation, and it's believed Rodriguez will publicly address the media upon his arrival at spring training to issue a further apology.

Rodriguez, who has three years and $61 million remaining on his contract, is expected to receive playing time at designated hitter after the team inked third baseman Chase Headley to a four-year, $52-million deal in the offseason. But the defiant Rodriguez apparently still believes the third-base position is his to lose.

The 39-year-old can earn even more by moving up the all-time home-run leaderboard, but the Yankees have reportedly attempted to void his milestone bonuses, something that was further discussed in the meeting, according to Andrew Marchand of ESPN.

Yankees position players report to spring training in Tampa Bay, Fla., on Feb. 25.



Last edited on Wed Feb 11th, 2015 06:27 am by lobo316

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The Atlanta Braves have reportedly signed right-hander Jose Veras to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league spring training, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.

Veras, 34, spent the 2014 season with the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros and fared much better after his switch to the American League. The nine-year veteran posted a 3.03 ERA while striking out 10.19 batters per nine innings in 34 appearances with the Astros.

He's the owner of a career 3.91 ERA and 24 percent strikeout rate, but has struggled with control issues and bounced around between a number of teams.

The Braves also reportedly inked right-hander Matt Capps to a minor league deal Tuesday. Capps and Veras will both battle for spots in Atlanta's bullpen during spring training.

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The Atlanta Braves agreed to a minor league contract with reliever Matt Capps on Tuesday, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Capps, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2012 due to shoulder issues, will compete for a spot in the Braves' bullpen this spring.

Capps, 31, began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates (2005-09) before making stops in Washington (2010) and Minnesota (2010-12). The former closer earned his only career All-Star appearance in 2010 when he saved a combined 42 games for the Nationals and Twins.

The right-hander owns a career 3.52 ERA with 138 saves across 444 appearances.

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TOKYO - Former major league All-Star Julio Franco has signed a contract at age 56 to be a player-manager for the Ishikawa Million Stars of Japan's independent Baseball Challenge League.

The Stars announced Tuesday the signing of the Dominican Republic native, who played parts of 23 major league seasons for eight teams from 1982-2007, with stints in Japan, Mexico and South Korea during that time.

Franco, a three-time All-Star infielder and former American League batting champion, played for the Fort Worth Cats of the independent United League last season.

Franco was the oldest active player in the majors when he played his last game for Atlanta in 2007 at the age of 49. He has played professionally in five different decades, starting in the minors in 1978 at age 19.

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Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy will miss four-to-six weeks with a mild right hamstring strain, the team announced Wednesday.

The team didn't reveal how Lucroy suffered the injury, but it was diagnosed Monday and confirmed by another doctor Tuesday. MLB.com Brewers beat writer Adam McCalvy is reporting Lucroy's right hamstring was bothering him last August, and it flared up again two weeks ago when he began running again.

Lucroy's hamstring injury is at the top of the leg, where it attaches to the hip. Lucroy got a PRP injection to help healing.

— Tom (@Haudricourt) February 11, 2015
Assistant general manager Gord Ash said Lucroy will not be totally shut down, and will still be able to work on his hitting, throwing and fielding. He will only refrain from running.

Lucroy should be good to go by Opening Day, and Ash is hopeful the All-Star backstop will come in on the short end of the timeline.

Lucroy enjoyed a breakout 2014 campaign, finishing with a .301 average, 13 home runs and 69 RBIs. His 53 doubles led the National League, and he finished fourth in MVP voting.

Brewers catchers and pitchers are scheduled to hold their first workout on Feb. 21.

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It's no secret Pete Rose wants to be elected into the Hall of Fame, badly.

Now that Bud Selig is out of the picture, Rose has renewed optimism that new commissioner Rob Manfred may lift his lifetime ban from baseball for gambling on games .

"I wish I could tell that I know what he'll do," Rose told Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports. "But I've never met him. I've never seen him. But I'd love to talk to him."

Manfred expects to have a conversation about possibly reinstating Rose, a chance the former Cincinnati Red believes he's entitled to.

"I've done my time, I've paid the price,'' Rose added. "Isn't it time to forgive? Isn't this country about getting second chances?"

The impending All-Star Game in Cincinnati will add pressure to the debate this summer, as Rose is expected to be a part of the festivities, and Manfred will surely be bombarded with questions surrounding his fate at the event.

Rose is the all-time major-league leader in hits (4,256) and batted a very respectable .303 in more than 1,400 career at-bats - numbers he believes justify his call to Cooperstown.

"I just want to be on that writer's ballot," Rose exclaimed. "Let the writers decide. If they want me in, I'm in. If they don't feel I should be in, I can live with it."

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James Shields said if it wasn't for family, there's a good chance he would have been reunited this winter with his former manager Joe Maddon.

Shields, who finalized a four-year, $73-million deal with San Diego this week, admitted during a radio interview Thursday that the Chicago Cubs finished runner-up to his hometown Padres.

"In all reality, it came down to the Cubs and the Padres - two great managers," Shields told 1090-AM, according to Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego. "I think I made the right decision here. I'm really happy about it. I'm really happy to be a Padre."

Shields, 33, developed under the tutelage of Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays' coaching staff for the first seven years of his career, posting six straight 200-inning seasons and establishing himself as one of the most dependable starting pitchers in baseball.

Despite the allure of a reunion, Shields resisted the Cubs' reported three-year, $60-million offer for a shot to pitch at home for Padres skipper Bud Black.

"Buddy Black's a great manager," said Shields, who noted that Maddon texted him Wednesday to offer congratulations. "I've heard nothing but good things from the players that have played for him, and I'm excited to play for him the next four years here.

"When it came down to it, I had to think about my family, being close to home. And my No. 1 reason is winning. The teams I was looking at, I knew they were going to win and win now. That's what I loved about San Diego and what ownership's doing right now. They had that win-now mentality. They want not only to win now but win the next four, five years."

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The Seattle Mariners acquired some offensive depth Wednesday by reportedly agreeing to terms on a one-year major-league contract with infielder Rickie Weeks.

Weeks will earn $2 million this season with the opportunity to double his salary based on incentives, according to multiple reports.

Weeks, 32, flourished at the plate last year in a platoon role with the Milwaukee Brewers, slashing .274/.357/.452 across 286 appearances. The right-handed hitting second baseman was especially effective against southpaws in 2014, posting a robust .865 OPS with 18 extra-base hits in 133 at-bats.

Injuries, however, have sapped Weeks' power in recent seasons. The 11-year veteran has managed just 18 homers over his last 225 games after hitting the third-most among second basemen (70) from 2010-12.

Weeks could see limited time spelling All-Star Robinson Cano at second base, but he's more likely to get occasional reps as the designated hitter or simply a right-handed bat off the bench.

Another option is to use Weeks at one of the corner outfield spots, despite having never played a position other than second base during his career. Weeks was against a possible switch to the outfield when the Brewers approached him about it last season, but Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported Thursday that the "thought is to use him a lot" in the outfield in 2015.

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Ruben Amaro Jr. is having no luck dealing disgruntled closer Jonathan Papelbon.

The Philadelphia Phillies general manager has been trying to unload Papelbon to the Milwaukee Brewers for weeks, but can't fetch the return he's seeking.

Amaro Jr. requested a top prospect in exchange for the right-hander's services and even offered to pay a significant portion of Papelbon's salary, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. The proposal was shot down by the Brewers, who countered by suggesting a closer-for-closer swap involving Jonathan Broxton and likely a few other pieces.

Broxton, who will earn $9 million in 2015 and has a $9-million club option for 2016, has a 10-team no-trade clause built into his contract. He would be unable to veto a trade to the Phillies, however.

Papelbon's contract is more lucrative, allowing him to cash $13 million with an identical $13-million vesting option for 2016 if he finishes 48 games this season. He also has a no-trade list, and the Brewers are one of the 17 teams listed. Rosenthal believes Papelbon would want his 2016 option guaranteed in exchange for waiving his no-trade rights.

The free-agent market is still an alternative for the Brewers, who are interested in potentially bringing back Francisco Rodriguez. Rafael Soriano is also available.

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The Houston Astros have signed right-hander Roberto Hernandez to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, the team announced Thursday.

The 34-year-old went 8-11 with a 4.10 ERA in 32 games for the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014.

Hernandez has a legitimate shot at cracking the starting rotation, and will be competing with Brett Oberholtzer, Samuel Deduno and Dan Straily for a spot.

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Another spring, another Tommy John surgery for a member of the Atlanta Braves.

Right-hander Shae Simmons successfully underwent the procedure on Thursday to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. Last season, Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Jonny Venters and Cory Gearrin - who have all moved on from the organization - underwent the surgery.

Simmons was highly effective in his first and only year in the majors in 2014. Across 26 appearances in relief, the 24-year-old posted a 2.91 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings.

The Braves said that Simmons began feeling discomfort in his right elbow last week, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.

Simmons' injury likely opens the door for one of Jose Veras, Todd Coffey and Matt Capps, all who have signed minor-league deals with the Braves this week.

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In search for some left-handed help in the bullpen, the Seattle Mariners reportedly agreed to a minor-league deal with Rafael Perez, according to Bob Dutton of the News Tribune.

The 32-year-old was signed and released by both the Texas Rangers and Pittsburgh Pirates a season ago, while failing to make an appearance for either team at the major league level.

He made 24 appearances (16 starts) between the two club's Triple-A affiliates, posting a 6-7 record and 2.87 ERA in 103 1/3 innings. Perez, who spent his entire seven-year career with the Cleveland Indians, last pitched in the majors in 2012. In 7 2/3 innings that year, he crafted a 3.52 ERA.

Charlie Furbush currently represents the lone left in the Mariners pen.

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The San Diego Padres plan to live up to their promise to give recently signed right-hander Brandon Morrow the opportunity to land a spot in what has become a very crowded, and highly talented rotation.

"His desire and his motivation is to start and that was one of the reasons why he signed with us," manager Bud Black told MLB Network Radio. "We're going to give him the opportunity to start."

Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy and the recently signed James Shields are already penciled in, leaving the hard-throwing, injury-plagued Morrow competing for the final spot with three other arms.

"He wants to start, he thinks he's a starting pitcher, we're going to look at that in spring training," Black said of Morrow. "So with Morrow, (Odrisamer) Despaigne, Matt Wisler, Robbie Erlin, we feel as though we have four guys there who are gonna battle and see who comes out on top. If Morrow doesn't make it, we know his success as a reliever."

Morrow, 30, has seen a promising career derailed by injuries over the past two years. After posting a 10-7 record and 2.96 ERA over 124 2/3 innings in 2012, nerve damage in his right forearm and a torn tendon sheath in his right hand has limited him to 87 2/3 innings since.

Should Morrow fail to crack the rotation, he does offer the Padres some experience as a reliever. In 53 appearances out of the bullpen, Morrow owns a 3.69 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 124 1/3 innings, though the bulk of that work came back in 2007-08.

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Everyone loves a good comeback story.

The Kansas City Royals have signed pitcher Joe Blanton to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, the team announced Friday.

The veteran will earn $1 million if he cracks the big-league roster, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. He can cash in $3 million in incentives.

The right-hander last played in the bigs in 2013 as a member of the Los Angeles Angels, stumbling to a 6.04 ERA and 1.61 WHIP over 20 starts.

The 34-year-old retired last April after a brief stint with the Oakland Athletics' Triple-A team, but apparently impressed the Royals during his Feb. 4 open bullpen session.

Blanton will serve as insurance should starters Yordano Ventura, Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie, Edinson Volquez or Danny Duffy fall to injury at some point during the season.

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The Chicago White Sox are still busy rebuilding their pitching staff.

The team has signed Matt Albers to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, reports CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.

The right-hander missed most of the 2014 campaign due to shoulder tendonitis and had his $3-million option declined by the Houston Astros following the season, making him a free agent.

The 31-year-old was the owner of an impressive 0.90 ERA in eight appearances for Houston before succumbing to the injury, and boasts a 2.63 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over 127 outings since the beginning of 2012.

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Baseball bettors, start your engines.

The Atlantis sportsbook in Reno, Nev., has released its 2015 season win totals, officially opening the baseball betting season.

Oddsmakers have tabbed the Washington Nationals as the team to beat this year, setting an over/under of 93 wins, while the Philadelphia Phillies aren't getting any respect with their 67-win total.

Here's a look at the win totals for all 30 teams:

AL EAST     WIN TOTAL
Red Sox        86
Orioles          84.5
Blue Jays      83.5
Yankees        80
Rays             77.5

AL CENTRAL   WIN TOTAL
Tigers             86.5
Royals            83
White Sox       82
Indians           81
Twins             68.5

AL WEST   WIN TOTAL
Angels          87.5
Mariners       85
A's               82.5
Rangers       76.5
Astros          73.5

NL EAST     WIN TOTAL
Nationals       93
Marlins          81.5
Mets              81
Braves          73
Phillies           67

NL CENTRAL   WIN TOTAL
Cardinals            87.5
Pirates               85.5
Cubs                  81.5
Brewers             80
Reds                  79

NL WEST      WIN TOTAL
Dodgers             91
Giants                85
Padres               84
Diamondbacks   72.5
Rockies             70.5

Odds can be found at Covers.com.

Last edited on Sat Feb 14th, 2015 12:23 am by lobo316

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James Shields may not be spending as much time in San Diego as we initially thought.

The right-hander can opt out of his four-year, $75-million deal with the Padres after two seasons, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, who has obtained a copy of the contract.

That means at age 35, Shields could walk away from hitter-friendly Petco Park and test the free-agent market once again. Rosenthal believes it would be highly unlikely Shields would forfeit $21-million salaries in both the 2017 and 2018 seasons, as well as a $2-million buyout on his $16-million option for 2019, however.

Shields has already experienced a heavy workload throughout his nine-year career, tossing nearly 1,970 innings including the postseason.

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The San Diego Padres have set a projected date for Josh Johnson to make his debut with the team - one year and almost eight months after signing his initial contract.

"With J.J., he's probably not due back, this is if everything goes well in his rehab protocol in his comeback, probably until mid-to-late May, early June," manager Bud Black told MLB Network Radio on Thursday. "He'll be on a throwing program, we're going to monitor his work obviously after the Tommy John. He's projected, lets say, June 1."

Johnson signed a one-year, $8-million deal with the Padres in November of 2013, but was forced to undergo the second Tommy John surgery of his career in April. The team declined his $4-million option in October, but brought him back on a one-year, $1-million incentive laden contract last month.

The two-time All-Star last pitched in the majors in 2013 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. In 16 starts, Johnson posted a 2-8 record and 6.20 ERA, though he was limited with inflammation in his triceps that forced him to miss 39 days.

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lobo316 wrote: The San Diego Padres have set a projected date for Josh Johnson to make his debut with the team - one year and almost eight months after signing his initial contract.

"With J.J., he's probably not due back, this is if everything goes well in his rehab protocol in his comeback, probably until mid-to-late May, early June," manager Bud Black told MLB Network Radio on Thursday. "He'll be on a throwing program, we're going to monitor his work obviously after the Tommy John. He's projected, lets say, June 1."

Johnson signed a one-year, $8-million deal with the Padres in November of 2013, but was forced to undergo the second Tommy John surgery of his career in April. The team declined his $4-million option in October, but brought him back on a one-year, $1-million incentive laden contract last month.

The two-time All-Star last pitched in the majors in 2013 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. In 16 starts, Johnson posted a 2-8 record and 6.20 ERA, though he was limited with inflammation in his triceps that forced him to miss 39 days.
Even at a million bucks it's money wasted.  This guy is done.  It's a shame but it's a fact.  I could be wrong, I often am; like when I said "I do" when I should have said "Are you fucking high" but this guy has no arm left, regardless of Tommy John, Elton John or Olivia Newton John surgery!  You can't tell me they can't find someone better or already have someone in the minors that wouldn't do any worse. 

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The Atlanta Braves added another candidate Friday to compete for a spot on the 25-man roster in spring training, agreeing to a minor league deal with veteran outfielder Eric Young Jr., according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman.

Young spent much of the last two seasons with the New York Mets, appearing in 191 games after being acquired by the club in June 2013, but was non-tendered following the 2014 campaign. The 29-year-old managed 1.2 WAR over 100 games last season, hitting .229/.299/.311 with 30 stolen bases while managing five defensive runs saved in left field.

Young is expected to compete with Zoilo Almonte, another one of Atlanta's offseason acquisitions, for a platoon role in left with veteran outfielder Jonny Gomes. Selected in the 30th round of the 2003 draft, Young boasts a career .652 OPS against right-handed pitching, but has stolen more bases over the last two seasons than all but three players.

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The Texas Rangers added to their bullpen depth on Saturday by agreeing to a minor-league deal with right-hander Jamey Wright.

Wright, who was selected in the first round of the 1993 draft, enters spring training with 19 years of major league experience. The 40-year-old spent last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, posting a 4.35 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings.

"Jamey brings a lot of experience and has contributed in a number of relief roles," general manager Jon Daniels told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. "He's arguably been at his best recently, late in his career. He will compete for a spot in our bullpen."

Should Wright crack the Rangers big league roster, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports reported he'll earn $1 million.

Wright previously played for Texas during the 2007 and 2008 seasons, sporting a 4.41 ERA and 1.49 WHIP in nine starts and 95 appearances.

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New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson must live by the old adage that says: a team can't have enough pitching depth.

The club reportedly won't be pursuing a trade for one of its starting pitchers prior to Opening Day, according to New York Newsday's Marc Carig.

Most trade talks this offseason revolved around Dillon Gee, but the Mets felt they didn't receive a suitable offer for the right-hander and as a result nothing materialized.

New York will likely roll out a starting rotation consisting of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon, leaving Gee as the odd man out. Up-and-coming prospect Noah Syndergaard is also waiting in the wings and could contribute at the major-league level at some point soon.

Carig cautions a deal for Gee, who will make $5.3 million this season, could materialize if a significant injury is sustained by another club during spring training.

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Derek Jeter won't be on the field for the New York Yankees come Opening Day for the first time in almost two decades. In fact, the former shortstop won't be anywhere near the stadium.

"I think actually I'll be out of the country," Jeter told Mad Dog Sports Radio when asked if he'll be in attendance April 6.

The former Yankee captain, who was selected in the first round of the 1992 draft, endured a season-long send off last year and admitted that its time for a break from baseball.

"I need to get away," Jeter said. "I've been playing this game professionally for parts of 23 seasons. So I need to get away from it."

Jeter avoided going into detail regarding what he'll be doing in April, but ensured that he will find something to occupy his time.

"Oh, I will find something to do, but nothing physical," Jeter said.

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A second member of the Core Four is slated to become enshrined in New York Yankees immortality.

Andy Pettitte will have his No. 46 retired in a ceremony at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 23 that will also include the left-hander receiving a plaque in Monument Park, his son Josh announced. The news was later confirmed by Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.

Selected in the 22nd round by the Yankees in 1990, Pettitte spent 15 of his 18 major league seasons in pinstripes before retiring in 2013.

Pettitte was a part of five World Series winning teams, while holding the franchise record with 2,020 strikeouts. He also ranks third all-time for the Yankees in wins (219) and innings pitched (2,796).

The occasions will mark the 18th time the Yankees have retired a number and third time in as many years. The organization retired former manager Joe Torre's No. 6 last year and former closer Mariano Rivera's No. 42 in 2013.

Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter remain the other two members of the Core Four who have yet to be handed the honor.

Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reported that the Yankees plan to also honor Bernie Williams and Posada at some point this season.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers will have no shortage of veteran relievers hoping to land a roster spot this spring.

Right-hander David Aardsma announced Sunday that he'll attend spring training with the Dodgers, joining Erik Bedard, David Huff, Sergio Santos and five other non-roster invitees competing for a job with the club.

Aardsma's agent announced earlier this month that his client was hoping to pitch in the majors again this season after spending last year with the St. Louis Cardinals' Triple-A affiliate in Memphis. In 33 appearances, he fashioned a 1.29 ERA and 36 strikeouts while converting 11 saves.

The 33-year-old collected 69 saves in two seasons as the Seattle Mariners' closer from 2009-2010 but saw his career sidelined as the result of Tommy John surgery in 2011. Since undergoing the procedure, Aardsma has thrown just 49 2/3 innings in the majors.

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Seattle Mariners pitching prospect Victor Sanchez has been injured in a boating accident in Venezuela, reports Bob Dutton of The News Tribune and Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan.

Sanchez, the No. 11-ranked prospect in the team's farm system according to MLB.com, was hit by a boat while swimming in his native country. He has been admitted to the intensive care unit at a local hospital and is in critical but stable condition with a head injury at a local hospital.

The Mariners have confirmed Sanchez was involved in an accident, but offered no further details.

The 20-year-old righty went 7-6 with a 4.19 ERA in 23 starts for Double-A Jackson in 2014 and also pitched in the Venezuelan Winter League.

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The Boston Red Sox have at least tried to acquire an ace.

The Red Sox are one of four teams to have made an offer for Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, reports Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe.

Boston's offer consisted of players off its major-league roster in an attempt to protect top prospects Henry Owens and Blake Swihart, according to Cafardo's sources. The Phillies, however, are insisting on acquiring prospects in exchange for the 31-year-old's services, which is a major obstacle in trade talks.

Cafardo speculates the Phillies could hold Hamels until teams get desperate at the trade deadline in order to receive a package of prospects they deem acceptable.

Hamels, who is under contract for four more seasons and owed $94 million, went 9-9 with a 2.46 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 30 starts in 2014.

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Barry Zito is going back to where it all started.

After a year-long hiatus from professional baseball, the 36-year-old reportedly agreed Monday to a minor league deal with the Oakland Athletics, reuniting with the club that selected him ninth overall in the 1999 draft. Zito's deal includes an invitation to spring training, and the 14-year veteran will earn $1 million if he makes the 25-man roster, according to MLB.com's Jane Lee.

Zito, who grew up on the west coast of California, spent the first seven years of his career in Oakland and quickly emerged as one of the game's top left-handers following his 2000 debut season.

The 6-foot-2 hurler crafted a 3.55 ERA (125 ERA+) over his seven years with the Athletics, earning three All-Star appearances while claiming the American League Cy Young award in 2002.

Zito parlayed his strong tenure with the Athletics into a seven-year, $126-million deal with the San Francisco Giants following the 2006 season, but his contract quickly proved a lousy investment. He stumbled to a 4.62 ERA (87 ERA+) throughout his miserable stint in San Francisco, managing a 1.58 strikeout-to-walk ratio while allowing 130 home runs from 2007-13.

Zito did not pursue a contract when his deal with the Giants expired following the 2013 campaign, but his agent, Scott Boras, mentioned earlier this winter that his client had interest in reviving his career.

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The Cleveland Indians reportedly augmented their starting pitching depth Monday by agreeing to a minor league contract with left-hander Bruce Chen, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Chen appears unlikely to realistically contend for a spot in the rotation this spring, but the veteran hurler could contend with Zach McAllister for a long-relief role in the bullpen or provide depth at Triple-A.

Chen spent the last six seasons with the Kansas City Royals, but struggled mightily in 2014 and was relegated to the disabled list for roughly a third of the campaign due to a back injury. The 37-year-old managed a career-worst 7.45 ERA with a 1.76 WHIP over seven starts and six relief appearances, allowing 69 hits and seven home runs in 48 1/3 innings.

Over parts of 16 seasons in the majors, Chen owns a 4.58 ERA (94 ERA+) with a 2.08 strikeout-to-walk ratio across stops with 10 different clubs.

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The New York Yankees augmented their bullpen depth Monday by agreeing to minor league deal with right-hander Jared Burton that includes an invitation to spring training.

Burton, who made his MLB debut in 2007, spent the last three seasons with the Minnesota Twins, leading the club with 203 relief appearances over that span. The 33-year-old managed a 4.36 ERA with a 16.9 percent strikeout rate over 68 appearances in 2014 while limiting left-handed batters to a .595 OPS.

Burton will compete in spring training for a spot in a revamped bullpen that will likely feature a host of new faces in 2015, including left-hander Andrew Miller, right-hander David Carpenter and rookie Chasen Shreve.

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After 20 seasons in the majors, Jason Giambi is calling it a career.

"I have decided to officially announce my retirement as a Major League Baseball player," Giambi penned in an article published by the New York Daily News.

Selected in the second round of the 1992 draft by the Oakland Athletics, Giambi earned five All-Star appearances, two Silver Slugger awards and was named American League MVP in 2000 after slashing .333/.476/.647 with 43 home runs and 137 RBIs.

Giambi's career also saw stops with the New York Yankees, Colorado Rockies and most recently the Cleveland Indians.

It was expected the 44-year-old would announce his retirement at some point during the offseason, with the Indians reportedly offering him a non-playing role earlier this month.

Giambi ends his career with a .277/.399/.516 slash line to go with 405 doubles, 440 home runs and 1,441 RBIs in 2,260 games.

“I want to thank the fans for being a part of this incredible journey. I especially want to thank the fans that gave me a second chance to let me show you the human being you see today.

“Lastly, to the game of baseball: I started playing you when I was a kid and I’m leaving you a man. Thank you.”

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NEW YORK - The glove Jeffrey Maier used to catch Derek Jeter's tying home run against Baltimore in the eighth inning of the 1996 AL Championship Series opener at the original Yankee Stadium will be auctioned.

Heritage Auction said Monday the glove will be put up for bids on Feb. 21 in New York. It did not identify the current owner, who it said had purchased the glove from Maier.

Then 12, Maier reached in front of the right-field wall and prevented Tony Tarasco from catching Jeter's drive on Oct. 9, 1996. Umpire Rich Garcia declined to call fan interference and Bernie Williams hit an 11th-inning home run that gave the Yankees a 5-4 victory. Baltimore's protest was denied by baseball's ruling executive council and AL President Gene Budig.

New York went on to defeat the Orioles in five games and win the first of what would be four World Series titles in five years.

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lobo316 wrote: A second member of the Core Four is slated to become enshrined in New York Yankees immortality.

Andy Pettitte will have his No. 46 retired in a ceremony at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 23 that will also include the left-hander receiving a plaque in Monument Park, his son Josh announced. The news was later confirmed by Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.

Selected in the 22nd round by the Yankees in 1990, Pettitte spent 15 of his 18 major league seasons in pinstripes before retiring in 2013.

Pettitte was a part of five World Series winning teams, while holding the franchise record with 2,020 strikeouts. He also ranks third all-time for the Yankees in wins (219) and innings pitched (2,796).

The occasions will mark the 18th time the Yankees have retired a number and third time in as many years. The organization retired former manager Joe Torre's No. 6 last year and former closer Mariano Rivera's No. 42 in 2013.

Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter remain the other two members of the Core Four who have yet to be handed the honor.

Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reported that the Yankees plan to also honor Bernie Williams and Posada at some point this season.


 

 

The New York Yankees will have no shortage of ceremonies this season. 

Following the news that the team plans to retire former pitcher Andy Pettitte's No. 46 in August, the Yankees announced they'll also retire the numbers of outfielder Bernie Williams (No. 51) and catcher Jorge Posada (No. 20). Each player will also receive a plaque in Monument Park. 

Selected in the 24th round of the 1990 draft by the Yankees, Posada spent his entire 17-year career in pinstripes before retiring in 2011. He ranks eighth all time for the Yankees in games played (1,829) and home runs (275), and sits 11th in RBIs (1,065). The five-time All-Star was a part of five World Series championships. 

Williams spent his entire 16-year career with the Yankees after signing as an amateur free agent in 1985. The five-time All-Star was a part of four World Series titles before retiring in 2006. He ranks sixth on the team in games played (2,076), third in doubles (449) and seventh in home runs (287). 

Williams will have his number retired on May 24, while Posada's ceremony will take place August 22. 

The Yankees have retired 18 numbers. 

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Boston Red Sox closer Koji Uehara arrived in Florida on Monday - four days before the mandatory report date for pitchers and catchers - and immediately provided some insight into his late-season struggles in 2014.

Uehara, who signed a two-year, $18-million deal with the Red Sox in November, admitted Monday at his team's spring training facility that his arm bothered him in August, when he fashioned a 5.56 ERA over 12 appearances.

"It was more physical," Uehara told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald through translator C.J. Matsumoto. "I didn't talk about it at that time, but I think I'm over it."

Uehara refused to divulge further details, but did mention that fatigue wasn't what plagued him during the latter stages of 2014. The 39-year-old was eventually removed from the closer's role before making just five appearances in September, and emphasized Monday that he'll have to win back the ninth-inning job this spring.

"I don't feel that it's guaranteed, the closer role," Uehara said. "I have to earn it, so that's what I'm going to do."

Despite his struggles towards the end of 2014, Uehara has proven an invaluable member of Boston's bullpen over the last two seasons. The Japanese expatriate owns a 1.75 ERA with a gaudy 10.65 strikeout-to-walk ratio since 2013, leading all qualified relievers with an 18.7 percent swinging-strike rate over that span.

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Veteran reliever Matt Lindstrom will attempt this spring to win a spot in the Los Angeles Angels' bullpen in 2015 after agreeing Tuesday to a minor-league deal with the club.

Lindstrom, however, stumbled through a disappointing 2014 season wherein he managed a 5.03 ERA with a 1.74 WHIP over 35 appearances for the Chicago White Sox. The 35-year-old also endured a continued decline in velocity and posted the second-lowest strikeout rate among relievers with at least 30 innings pitched.

The Angels, conversely, fielded one the strongest bullpens in the American League last season, finishing with a 3.40 fielding independent pitching while managing a 23.6 percent strikeout rate that trailed only three other AL clubs.

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New York Mets reliever Bobby Parnell is poised to open the 2015 season on the disabled list, and one source told ESPN's Adam Rubin on Tuesday that the 30-year-old will likely miss the first two-to-three weeks of the campaign.

Mets manager Terry Collins indicated in December that Parnell is expected to return to the closer's role upon his return, though the right-hander has not pitched in a game since undergoing Tommy John surgery April 8.

Parnell, however, enjoyed a fine season in 2013, crafting a career-best 2.16 ERA with a 3.67 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 49 relief appearances for the Mets.

Jenrry Mejia assumed closing duties last season in Parnell's absence, and will likely open the season in that role.

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For a second straight year, Reed Johnson will spend his spring vying for a spot on the Miami Marlins' 25-man roster after agreeing to minor league deal with the club Tuesday.

Johnson will earn $1.25 million if he cracks the active roster and can also request his release if he's not on the 40-man roster March 29, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Johnson, a 12-year veteran, earned a reserve role with the Marlins last spring and proceeded to play in 113 games for Miami in 2014. The 38-year-old outfielder hit just .235/.266/.348 with two home runs and 15 doubles in 201 plate appearances while managing -0.7 wins above replacement.

The Marlins, however, signed Ichiro Suzuki to a one-year deal in January for added outfield depth in 2015, and it remains unclear how Johnson could provide value to Miami this season. Though Johnson has enjoyed success against left-handed pitching throughout his career, Jeff Baker - who's set to earn $2.1 million this season - also excels in that area and has experience in the outfield.

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When newly acquired third baseman Pablo Sandoval eventually endears himself to the Boston Red Sox, it likely won't have any thing to do with his commitment to conditioning.

Sandoval, who signed a five-year, $100-million deal with the Red Sox in November, has battled weight issues throughout his career and arrived at his new team's spring training facility Tuesday wielding a considerable paunch.

Sandoval, however, still appeared to be his usual, affable self, sharing a smile with fellow offseason addition Hanley Ramirez as the two familiarized themselves with their new surroundings.

 


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Has any Red Sox player been reported missing?  If so I think I know where he is!^ 

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The Los Angeles Dodgers will open the 2015 campaign without their closer.

Kenley Jansen, who logged a career-high 44 saves last season, is expected to miss 8-12 weeks after undergoing surgery Tuesday to remove a growth from a bone in his left foot, the team announced.

Jansen first experienced discomfort in his foot while running last week, prompting a battery of tests that revealed an issue with the fifth metatarsal of his left foot. After undergoing a procedure Tuesday to rectify the problem, the 27-year-old will be on crutches for roughly 10 days and will subsequently be consigned to a walking boot for three-to-four weeks.

Jansen will thus be forced to open the season on the disabled list, a development that provides some insight into why Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported Monday that the Dodgers continue to look for help in the bullpen.

It remains unclear at this point, however, who will receive the opportunity to close in Jansen's absence. Brandon League has the most ninth-inning experience among those expected to land a job in the Dodgers' bullpen this season, though his peripherals weren't overwhelmingly impressive in 2014 and the club could opt to give newcomers Joel Peralta or Chris Hatcher the first opportunity to close.

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Theo Epstein is reuniting with another former member of the Boston Red Sox in the Windy City.

The Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations has recruited Kevin Youkilis to join his staff as a special assistant, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.

Youkilis played eight seasons with the Red Sox, during which Epstein was the team's general manager.

The soon-to-be 36-year-old retired in October after spending last year playing with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball. Youkilis finished his 10-year major-league career hitting .281/.382/.478 with 150 home runs and 618 RBIs.

Epstein signed former Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez last year to act as a player-coach for their Triple-A affiliate.

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Cole Hamels is waving the white flag.

The Philadelphia Phillies left-hander wants to be traded, he revealed to USA TODAY Sports' Bob Nightengale.

"I want to go to a place where I can win again," Hamels said. "And I know it's not going to happen to here."

The 31-year-old has been the subject of rampant trade rumors all winter, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has yet to find a partner willing to deal top prospects for the three-time All-Star.

"I don't watch much TV in the offseason, and I had friends texting me and telling me what's going on," Hamels added. "So I tried to stay away from all of it. But I'd be lying if I didn't say I was checking the Internet to see the latest."

Hamels is expected to be the Phillies' starter on Opening Day, but he's hoping a trade will be made sooner rather than later. One of the teams interested in acquiring his services is the Boston Red Sox, a move Hamels would welcome.

"Of course, I would," Hamels replied when asked about potentially being moved to Boston. "It's a fun city. There's no better feeling than to have a chance to win every year, and they give you that chance."

Nightengale reports Hamels would also welcome a trade to the St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, or Los Angeles Dodgers.

Hamels, who went 9-9 with a 2.46 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 2014, has four years remaining on his current contract and is owed $94 million, so he wouldn't be considered a rental player for interested clubs.

The Phillies are projected to win a MLB-worst 67 games in 2015.

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The New York Yankees are going to play it safe, at least to start the 2015 season.

The team may implement a six-man rotation in April and May, pitching coach Larry Rothschild told MLB.com's Bryan Hoch on Wednesday.

The Yankees' rotation has some serious injury concerns entering the spring, and the club's schedule is front-loaded. The Bronx Bombers will play 30 games in 31 days beginning April 17, which will surely put a strain on the pitching staff.

"It's a result of some of the stuff that's gone on over the last few years, not just here, but everywhere," Rothschild said. "We're aware of situations here and early in the season, we need to get these guys through these stretches. Being that possibly early in the spring, some of them aren't going to be able to throw a lot, we're going to need to build them up too and give them the extra days when we can."

CC Sabathia (knee) and Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) will be monitored closely throughout the spring. Michael Pineda (shoulder) also has an injury-riddled past. Chris Capuano and Nathan Eovaldi should round out the rotation.

The Yankees have several options to explore for the sixth-man role. Bryan Mitchell, Esmil Rogers, Adam Warren and Chase Whitley all have the ability to be stretched out as starters.

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The San Francisco Giants are making good on their word that Tim Lincecum would reprise his role as a starter this season.

Manager Bruce Bochy stated in November that the two-time Cy Young winner wouldn't be a permanent fixture in the bullpen after landing there in September and the skipper reiterated that Wednesday, announcing that Ryan Vogelsong and Yusmeiro Petit won't crack the rotation to start the season.

"This is going to be a workable situation," Bochy told Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area. "If somebody is a little cranky, you've got Vogelsong and Petit sitting there to help out."

Vogelsong agreed to a one-year, $4-million deal earlier in the offseason and Bochy said he made the right-hander aware of the prospect of starting the season as a reliever.

"We talked a little bit about the situation," Bochy said. "He understood it. You can't have enough depth in the rotation."

Lincecum, who has one year and $18 million remaining on his deal, posted a 10-9 record and 4.64 ERA in 27 appearances before his demotion.

Either Vogelsong or Petit could step in to fill a potential void created by Tim Hudson. Bochy told Chris Haft of MLB.com that the 39-year-old is behind in his preseason preparation following surgery on his right ankle.

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Two Odors are better than one, according to the Texas Rangers.

The club has signed Rougned Odor's younger brother, who is also named Rougned Odor, to a contract, Baseball America's Ben Badler reports.

The 17-year-old is also a middle infielder like his older brother, who made his debut with the Rangers last season playing 114 games.

The younger Odor is likely several years away from playing in the bigs, but if the two brothers eventually crack the same lineup one day, it could cause an interesting jersey dilemma.

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CHICAGO - A federal judge has denied a request from rooftop clubs overlooking Chicago's Wrigley Field to temporarily halt installation of signs they say will block their view and violate a contract they have with the Cubs.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall ruled Thursday that the ''vague possibility'' the rooftops could be injured wasn't enough to grant a restraining order. The ruling means the Cubs will avoid a setback as they renovate the historic ballpark.

During a hearing on Wednesday, lawyers for two of the rooftop businesses said the Cubs' plans violate federal antitrust law and a revenue-sharing agreement the team signed with the rooftop owners.

Cubs' lawyers said the team has the right to install the signs.

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Johnny Cueto has money on his mind heading into spring training.

The Cincinnati Reds righty is entering the final year of his current contract and could be one of the big names hitting the free-agent market next winter. His preference is to remain in Cincinnati, but he expects to be paid handsomely no matter which route he decides to take.

"I would love to stay. I want to stay," Cueto told the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay.

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty has already publicly stated he's not sure if he'll be able to extend Cueto, whose contract demands could be outrageous if he can win 20 games for a second consecutive season.

Fay also asked Cueto about the seven-year, $210-million contract the Washington Nationals inked Max Scherzer to this winter, and his response must have been alarming to potential suitors.

"If it was me, I'd ask for $300 million," Cueto stated.

The 29-year-old will make $10 million in 2015 and owns a career 85-57 record with a 3.27 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.

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CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said Wednesday that Ryan Howard will start at first base this season, despite plans to rebuild the team and attempts to trade the declining slugger.

Sandberg spoke in support of Howard during his first news conference of spring training as pitchers and catchers reported to Bright House Field.

When Sandberg was asked about the former MVP he benched for three games last season, he said: "He's the first baseman."

Howard has never fully rebounded to the level of production he showed before tearing his left Achilles tendon during Philadelphia's final out in 2011, in an NL Division Series loss to St. Louis.

The 35-year-old Howard played in 153 games in 2014 after missing half of each of the previous two seasons. He hit .223 with 23 home runs and 95 RBIs, led the majors with 190 strikeouts and had a career-low .380 slugging percentage.

The Phillies have other, younger options in veteran Darin Ruf, 28, and top slugging prospect Maikel Franco, 22. But the front office has been unable to move Howard, who is owed a minimum of $60 million in the next two years.

"Right now he's here to prepare for the season as one of the guys," Sandberg said. "If he gets to where he's hitting 30-35 home runs, which is good home runs for this day and age of baseball, he can help us win games this year. To see him in the spring and see him prepare and have him get ready, he's here. Right now, unless he gets unseated he's the first baseman."

In December, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told a Philadelphia radio station that he had recently told Howard that "it would probably bode better for the organization not with him but without him."

But after committing to a rebuild at the outset of the offseason, the Phillies couldn't find a trade partner for Howard or other veterans, including Jonathan Papelbon, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. Amaro did trade Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo in December, but as spring training begins, the team is stuck between committing to younger players while also being saddled with veterans who won't be playing for a contender in Philadelphia.

The Phillies were one of four teams on Opening Day last season with an average player age older than 30.

Sandberg doesn't foresee the age mix as a problem.

"You've seen it before -- it's kind of part of the game," Sandberg said of his veterans who have been in trade rumors all winter. "Sometimes it can motivate a player, sometimes it can raise the value of a player."

After pitchers and catchers hold their first workout Thursday, the team's first full-squad workout is scheduled for Tuesday.

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Texas Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar will undergo right shoulder surgery Monday in an effort to return the former top prospect to good health.

Profar, who missed the entire 2014 season after tearing a muscle in the same shoulder, will be re-evaluated after surgery, according to multiple reports. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Keith Meister in Arlington.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels suggests Profar's current shoulder issues could be the result of a labrum injury suffered in 2010, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth-Star Telegram. Daniels said if it's only the labrum that requires fixing, Profar could still play in 2015.

Profar's latest setback was revealed when an MRI on Tuesday showed increased strain on the subscapularis muscle of his throwing arm. He had been undergoing MRIs on his shoulder every three weeks as the club monitored his progress this spring following an injury-plagued 2014.

The 21-year-old has watched his stock drop significantly from two seasons ago, when he was the consensus No. 1 prospect in baseball. He was expected to start the year in the minors but had recently expanded his throwing program to 105 feet with no reported setbacks.

"He's on schedule," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said earlier this month, according to Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. "He's continued to progress both in his throwing program and in his rehab, and in the weight room and in his doctor's visits. It's all been kind of green lights so far."

Profar, who turns 22 on Friday, suffered three separate shoulder tears last season, but opted for rest rather than surgery in hopes of returning to the field.

Now, less than two weeks after he began taking dry swings and increasing his baseball activities, Profar's season appears to be in jeopardy for the second straight year.

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Darren Daulton gets some good news about his brain cancer: http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/25074436/darren-daulton-passes-along-good-news-in-battle-against-brain-cancer

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Pablo Sandoval apparently knows a thing or two about posing for photos.

The new Boston Red Sox third baseman responded Thursday to an unflattering photo of himself that began circulating after he arrived for spring training.

Here it is again if you didn't catch it:

Pablo Sandoval withdrew all the money he made this summer and ate it pic.twitter.com/f93gJgi5Gh

— Sean Cunningham (@SS_Cunningham) February 17, 2015
"Critics have said that I am lazy, that I am not working hard; that picture caught me at a bad angle," Sandoval told ESPN. "But once again, let them say whatever they want to say. I will prove who I am on the field and show Boston fans how hard I am working to be a champion with this team, too.

"Let them talk, talk and criticize. No matter what they say, it will never change me or the player that I am."

Sandoval has struggled with his weight throughout his big-league career, but his accomplishments speak for themselves: he's a three-time World Series champion and was named MVP of the 2012 Fall Classic.

Sandoval inked a five-year, $95-million contract with the Red Sox in November.

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The Kansas City Royals acquired a versatile arm Thursday by agreeing to a minor-league deal with left-hander Franklin Morales.

Morales makes his way west after a tough season with the Colorado Rockies in which the 29-year-old went 6-9 with a 5.37 ERA across 38 appearances (22 starts).

While pitching at Coors Field wasn't kind to Morales - he posted a 4.92 ERA in 75 innings - he actually fared worse on the road, going 2-6 with a 5.88 ERA across 67 1/3 innings.

The Royals' rotation appears to be set barring any injuries, and their bullpen is well stocked, though Morales's flexibility to start or pitch in relief makes him valuable. Tim Collins currently projects to be the only southpaw in Kansas City's pen.

Prior to last season, Morales enjoyed three solid seasons between the Rockies and Boston Red Sox. In 107 games (10 starts), he posted a 3.89 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 148 innings.

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San Francisco Giants reliever Sergio Romo's spring training is off to an inauspicious start as the right-hander was held back from Thursday's throwing session for precautionary reasons.

“He came in and said he felt a little something,” manager Bruce Bochy told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Gate. “We’re going to back him off early. We don’t see any major setbacks. I think he had a little bit of that last year.”

Romo, whose spent his entire seven-year career in San Francisco, agreed to a two-year, $15-million deal with the Giants in December.

The soon-to-be-32-year-old relinquished the closer's role last season and is expected to work as a setup man to Santiago Casilla in 2015.

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The Cleveland Indians are optimistic they'll have a pair of outfielders in their spring training lineup by mid-March.

Brandon Moss, acquired from the Oakland Athletics this offseason, underwent surgery on his right hip to repair a torn labrum in October and is expected to begin running in 7-10 days and on-field hitting by early March, reported Joe Reedy of FOX Sports Ohio.

Moss belted 25 home runs a season ago but struggled at the plate, hitting .234/.334/.438 with 153 strikeouts. He slashed just .173/.310/.274 with four home runs in the second half of the season, which he attributed to a loss in his range of motion as a result of the injury.

Nick Swisher underwent offseason surgery on both knees and is expected to begin outfield work and base-running in two weeks.

The 34-year-old endured a disappointing, injury-riddled 2014 campaign that saw him play a career-low 97 games. Swisher was sidelined on three different occasions related to his knees before eventually undergoing surgery.

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Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke is planning to see how things materialize this season before making a decision on his future.

The two-time All-Star has a clause in his contract that allows him to opt out at the conclusion of this season. He said last month he's unsure if he will. The move would forfeit his remaining three years and $77 million with the Dodgers.

Greinke noted that the Dodgers' direction is what's important to him, and that he plans to prioritize what's in his best interest. He acknowledged that his past experience of being locked into a long-term deal with the Kansas City Royals - only to have them eventually enter a rebuild - makes him skeptical of teams' intentions.

"My plan was to never let that happen again," Greinke told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

"I probably talk more than I should and more than most people. Most people come to work and their boss tells them what to do. I want to know why they want me to lift and stretch. Most just say, 'OK.'

"I know you can't really trust the front office and what they tell you. Guys have signed long deals and get traded the next year. It happens all the time. Teams do what's best for them and you can't fault them, but you can't trust them to do what's best for you. Their job is to do what's best for the team."

The 31-year-old did tell Gurnick he has enjoyed his time with the Dodgers and is open to negotiating with the club.

After posting a 32-12 record and 2.68 ERA over the past two season in Chavez Ravine, another strong year could fetch a much larger pay day should Greinke seek it.

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Commissioner Rob Manfred is wasting no time putting his stamp on the game.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Major League Baseball and the Players Association were making progress on several minor tweaks to help speed up the pace of play ahead of this season.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported Thursday the three bigger changes expected to be announced on Friday:

1. Managers must challenge replays from the dugout, rather than on the field.

2. Batters must keep one foot in the box unless an established exception occurs (foul balls, foul tips, wild pitches or umpire granting timeout).

3. Play to resume promptly once broadcast returns from commercial break.

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported last week that both sides appear comfortable with resuming play as soon as the broadcast returns from commercial break and that the language needed to be tightened regarding batters remaining in the box, in order to have stricter enforcement.

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Jayson Werth's five-day stay at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center earlier this month was more than enough for the Washington Nationals outfielder.

"It's a time in my life that I'm glad it's behind me," Werth told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. "I've had time to reflect on the whole thing. I want to talk about it one time, and kind of lay it to rest. I'm ready to put it behind me. I've learned my lesson. I don't recommend the experience I had to anyone, really. It's not something that was fun. It's not a destination you would choose."

Werth's time served was the result of a guilty plea for a reckless driving charge. The 35-year-old was pulled over in his Porsche last July after driving 50 miles over the speed limit.

"What I didn't realize was the severity of the crime, so to speak," Werth said. "I think that's important. That's one of the lessons learned here. You move to a new area, you really need to be sure of what the laws and penalties are. You hear those things. You hear, 'Don’t speed in Virginia' when you get here, just in casual conversations. What's left out is why you don’t speed in Virginia. I learned the hard way, that’s for sure."

Werth, who is in the midst of a seven-year, $126-million deal, wasn't exactly spending his sentence at Shawshank. He told Kilgore that some of the inmates recognized him, though the guards were professional. He was allowed to play board games, watch television and exercise.

"You get taken in, and they give you a jumpsuit, which are a lot more comfortable than you’d think," Werth said. “It depends on where you go - what floor or what cellblock. For me, you go in, and you're just in with a bunch of other people who are in serving their time. You're just in there. It's just boring. You're in detention, essentially."

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San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy was admitted to hospital after experiencing heart discomfort during his routine physical.

The team released the following statement.

"Following his physical yesterday, the Giants medical staff was monitoring Bruce Bochy's heart after he experienced some discomfort. This afternoon, Bruce was admitted to Scottsdale Healthcare Medical Center where doctors performed a medical procedure to insert two stents. He is resting comfortably and will be released tomorrow."

Bochy has led the Giants to three World Series Championships over his nine seasons in San Francisco.

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Different year, same injury-related story for Josh Hamilton.

The Los Angeles Angels outfielder could be out a month longer than initially expected following shoulder surgery earlier this month, general manager Jerry Dipoto revealed to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

Hamilton was given a timeline of eight weeks to resume baseball activities following the Feb. 4 surgery, but a 12-week return now seems more realistic for the oft-injured slugger. That means he'll likely miss all of spring training and quite possibly the first month of the regular season.

"He had a bone shaved down to create less friction in an arthritic shoulder," Dipoto said. "Until he gets on site and on the field, it's tough to determine how long it will take."

Hamilton battled shoulder, chest and rib-cage ailments in September and didn't look healthy despite returning for 13 at-bats in the playoffs.

The 33-year-old, who has three years and over $90 million remaining on his current contract, hit .263 with 10 home runs and 44 RBIs in 89 games in 2014.

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Expect New York Mets right-hander Matt Harvey to set a new career high for innings pitched should he remain healthy this season.

General manager Sandy Alderson issued a state-of-the-Mets address Friday and indicated there will be no special precautions taken when dealing with the 25-year-old.

While Alderson hesitated to give an exact figure, Adam Rubin of ESPN reported that the GM said 200 innings, including playoffs, is plausible.

Harvey noted in January that he was a little surprised with the amount of innings the team is going to allow him to pitch this season after the Mets practiced extreme caution following his Tommy John surgery in October 2013.

Harvey reportedly had exceptional results in bullpen work earlier this month, with the one-time All-Star boasting about his arm strength. Those results reassured Alderson, who believes Harvey should undergo an ordinary spring.

"I would say 95 percent of Matt Harvey's program from now through hopefully the end of season - the regular season - should be normal and routine," Alderson said.

Harvey posted a 9-5 record and 2.27 ERA in 2013, while logging a career-high 178 1/3 innings.

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Mat Latos apparently cooks burgers slow and low.

The Miami Marlins right-hander isn't a fan of the new pace-of-game rules MLB will introduce this season and used a hamburger analogy to express his displeasure.

Marlins pitcher Mat Latos, on MLB's new pace-of-play rules: "Terrible. You rush a hamburger, it's not going to be completely done." Huh?

— Brian Costa (@BrianCostaWSJ) February 20, 2015
Accommodating the new rules should be a bigger issue for hitters, who will now have to keep one foot inside the box the majority of the time. Latos' biggest concern will be making sure he throws enough warm-up pitches before the new countdown clock between innings reaches 30 seconds.

For the complete list of rule changes, click here.

A positive for Latos, however, is that he'll be able to work on his burger-grilling skills year-round in sunny Florida, and won't be subject to the grilling challenges presented by the cold Cincinnati winters.

The Reds traded Latos to the Marlins in exchange for Anthony DeSclafani and Chad Wallach in December.

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New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka believes he's ready for the rigors of a full MLB season after his rookie year was interrupted by an elbow injury.

"I think I kind of know what to expect, the rhythm and flow of things now, just by having the experience of a full season last year," Tanaka told reporters Friday. "Baseball-wise and just everyday-life-wise, I think I'm a little bit more used to it than last year."

Tanaka's transition to the majors was seamless, going 13-5 with a 2.51 ERA across his first 18 starts before a partial tear of his UCL cost him more than two months of his season.

The health of the 26-year-old's elbow has been a focal point at Yankees camp this spring, and early reports have been encouraging.

"I feel it's healed," Tanaka said. "I'm confident that I can get through this season."

Tanaka, who opted for rest and rehab over surgery, has six years and $133 million remaining on his deal.

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Toronto Blue Jays top prospect Daniel Norris has become famous this offseason for being something of a baseball hippie — he lived in his van during a slow trek to spring training, stopping and surfing along the way, cooking his food and brewing his coffee at rest stops.


Van life, he calls it, as he turned the drive from his home in Johnson City, Tenn., to Dunedin, Fla., where the Blue Jays train, into a several-week jaunt. Norris and his van — a 1978 Volkswagen — arrived at Blue Jays spring training camp earlier this week, but that wasn't the end of his adventures.

[Baseball is back! Check out Yahoo For Spring Training for great spring training pics.]


Napping in my van at whole foods. Dude comes up to me with cash saying his brother was homeless for a bit & he's praying for me........... 😳

— Daniel Norris (@DanielNorris18) February 19, 2015 The beard, the van — we understand how someone might jump to the conclusion that Norris is homeless. But in fact, he got a $2 million signing bonus when the Blue Jays drafted him in the second round in 2011. He's not flashy, nor is he particularly conventional by 2015 norms, but he ishimself.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball: Sign up and join a league today!]


All is well with my soul. #jklivin pic.twitter.com/kmxIeLpKA6

— Daniel Norris (@DanielNorris18) February 20, 2015 Just keep living, man.

 

 

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[img]https://s2.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/cxlKCRtU_vRIX.rB8K9rbQ--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7cT04NTt3PTMxMA--/http://l.yimg.com/os/publish-images/sports/2015-02-20/847e8290-b93b-11e4-b7eb-5d26766b2a70_AP480059737006.jpg[/img]

Blue Jays pitching prospect Daniel Norris at training 

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Hanley Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox is set to play in the outfield for the first time in his career, in a ballpark that features arguably the most challenging obstacle in baseball.

In preparation, the three-time All-Star has arrived early to Boston's spring training facility with plans of honing his skills at JetBlue Park, which features the exact dimensions of Fenway Park and a replica of the Green Monster.

"We've got an advantage with that, and we try to utilize it," outfield coach Arnie Beyeler told Gordon Edes of ESPN.

While the 31-year-old's bat is expected to make up for his perceived defensive deficiencies, Beyeler isn't overly concerned with transitioning Ramirez to left field after logging 1,175 games as an infielder.

"I don't think it’s going to be as big a deal as people think," Beyeler said. "It's not like we're taking a guy off the street. Hanley knows how to play the game, he knows where to throw the ball, he knows the speed of runners. He played shortstop. He's a pretty good athlete. He's just got to learn how to catch balls off the wall, decide depth, get his arm stretched out.

"He's a smart guy, very receptive to things and everybody. We've got six weeks to have him run around and catch balls. He's going to miss balls out there. Jonny (Gomes), who played the wall well, missed the first ball hit to him two years ago, and he's an outfielder.

"He's building. To me he can be as good out there as he wants to be."

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Shane Victorino proclaimed all offseason that he'll be the starting right fielder for the Boston Red Sox, and it appears he's been granted his wish before spring training for position players even opens.

"If Shane Victorino is fully capable and fully healthy, he's our right fielder," manager John Farrell told Tim Britton of the Providence Journal.

Victorino took exception to Farrell's comments earlier in the offseason when the manager failed to mention the 34-year-old as a potential candidate to lead off this season, while hinting that Hanley Ramirez, Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo would be the trio to start in the outfield.

The 10-year veteran then labeled himself an underdog to land a starting outfield role, however, Farrell viewed the situation differently.

"I did read his comments where the underdog mentality is one that he’s always used as a motivator," Farrell told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald in late January. "I wouldn't call him an underdog at all. I would say that this is a very good player and looking forward to him being on the field for us. We're a better team if he's on the field every day."

Victorino appeared in 122 games for the Red Sox in 2013, but was limited to 30 a season ago due to an ailing back that eventually required surgery.

With Ramirez and Castillo expected to be locks in the outfield, Farrell will be tasked with finding at-bats for Daniel Nava, Allen Craig and Betts.

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Feedback continues to pour in regarding the new pace-of-play rules announced by Major League Baseball on Friday.

The new proposed initiatives to speed up the game are drawing mixed reviews from players, but some may take issue with them more than others.

Veteran players who are religious with their at-bat rituals, like David Ortiz and Troy Tulowitzki, could struggle more adapting to the changes, according to some of their former teammates.

The Boston Red Sox slugger perpetually steps out of the box for lengthy periods to adjust his batting gloves, spit and clap his hands and analyze the defensive shift often employed against him by opposing clubs.

"He's (Ortiz) not going to change now," former Red Sox Will Middlebrooks told ESPN. "And it's going to be hard for them to ride a guy like that, who's put in his time and is such a good player. It's his routine and he's going to stick with it."

Tulowitzki, one of the most feared hitters in the league when healthy, is another player that loves to take his sweet time before stepping in.

"Tulo has a routine down every pitch," former teammate Clint Barmes said. "He steps out and adjusts his batting gloves or whatever and gets back in. It's not like he takes forever. I don't know what they'll do with something like that."

All batters must keep at least one foot in the batter's box unless one of the following exceptions occur under the new rules:

The batter swings at a pitch.
The batter is forced out of the batter's box by a pitch.
A member of the either team is granted a timeout.
A defensive player attempts a play on a runner.
The batter feints a bunt.
A wild pitch or passed ball occurs.
The pitcher leaves the dirt area of the mound after receiving the ball.
The catcher leaves the batter's box to give defensive signals.

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Dodgers sign FA Brandon Beachy, formerly of the Braves who led the ML in ERA a few seasons ago.

This is why I am disgusted with the Yankees, who sign pieces of shit like Chris Capuano instead.

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The Boston Red Sox have now locked up their manager after a winter of bolstering their roster.

John Farrell's contract has been extended through 2017 with a club option for 2018, the team announced Saturday.

"There was no doubt in my mind when we hired him (Farrell) that he was the right person for the job; I sill feel that way," general manager Ben Cherington said in a statement. "We felt it was important for John and the team to settle this. We did this because we believe in John."

Farrell is set to earn $1.7 million this year. The 52-year-old has been on both ends of the spectrum in his two years at Fenway - from 97-65 and a world championship in his first season to 71-91 and last place in 2014.

Infield additions Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval will be expected to shore up the bats, while question marks continue to surround their pitching staff. The Red Sox opened camp on Saturday.

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TAMPA, Fla. - CC Sabathia threw his first outdoor bullpen session Saturday, and hopes to be on a mound a lot more this season.

The 34-year-old lefty was hobbled by a degenerative cartilage problem in his right knee last season and was done after having surgery in July.

''It's a bum knee,'' Sabathia said with a smile. ''But it feels good right now. It's something I'm excited about this spring.''

Sabathia had the knee checked Friday, and will receive injections and fluid drainage as needed.

''I didn't see him favor it,'' manager Joe Girardi said. ''As I've said all along, I think you really have to get into the rigors of throwing 100 pitches, throwing every fifth day.''

The six-time All-Star and 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner made only eight starts last year and finished 3-4 with a career-worst 5.28 ERA. He is 208-119 with a 3.63 ERA in 14 seasons.

''Not being able to play last year was tough,'' Sabathia said. ''I was sitting at home all summer and watching these guys play, it was hard. I have a lot to prove. Come back healthy, trying to help this staff and team.''

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Joe Girardi has an interesting dilemma on his hands.

The New York Yankees manager is tasked with assigning bullpen roles this spring, and may employ a strategy fans in New York haven't seen in a very long time.

"I think you could do that," Girardi told reporters Friday when asked about the possibility of Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances sharing closing duties this season. "I think you have to see how people react when they're in the situation. I feel good about both of those guys doing it."

The Yankees have had a clear-cut closer since 1997, thanks to future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera and the emergence of David Robertson last season. Robertson moved on to join the Chicago White Sox this winter, leaving Girardi with a hole to fill.

The skipper got a firsthand view of what Betances can do last year, and had to be impressed by the righty's 1.40 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 90 innings of work.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman provided Girardi with some insurance, however, when he inked Miller to a four-year contract this offseason. The left-hander's wipeout slider is perhaps the best in the game, but he, like Betances, doesn't boast a lot of closing experience. In fact, the two hurlers have only two combined career saves between them.

Fantasy owners will want to pay attention to the battle throughout the spring to see if a front-runner emerges in order to maximize saves.

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James Shields left money on the table to join the San Diego Padres.

The right-hander rejected a four-year, $80-million offer from the San Francisco Giants prior to signing for $75 million on a four-year pact with the Friars, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.

The Giants' offer was tabled a few weeks before Shields decided to sign in San Diego and after the Chicago Cubs inked lefty Jon Lester to a $150-million deal. San Francisco was also in the mix for Lester's services and then obviously turned its attention to Shields after getting rejected.

The Miami Marlins and Cubs were the Padres' main contenders in contract negotiations with Shields, who opted to pitch closer to home for less money.

Shields went 14-8 with a 3.21 ERA in 34 starts for the Kansas City Royals in 2014.

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Los Angeles pitcher Zack Greinke underwent a scheduled injection in his right elbow Thursday and will be out several days, the Dodgers confirmed Saturday.

MLB.com's Ken Gurnick reports the procedure was precautionary:

Zack Greinke had a lubricating injection in elbow Thursday as precautionry measure to prevent annaul spring dead arm. Shut down a dew days.

— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) February 21, 2015
Pitchers and catchers reported to Dodgers' spring training Thursday in Glendale, Ariz.

Greinke was 17-8 with a 2.71 ERA and over 200 strikeouts last year as the Dodgers' No. 2 starter behind Clayton Kershaw. The 31-year-old has an opt-out clause in his contract after this season.

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The Milwaukee Brewers have a plan for their aging third baseman.

Manager Ron Roenicke told reporters he intends to give Aramis Ramirez more days off this season in an attempt to boost his production and keep him healthy.

Ramirez will turn 37 this summer and has a history of knee issues, but the three-time All-Star is still producing at a high level. The veteran hit .285 with 15 home runs and 66 RBIs over 131 games last season

The Brewers are hoping, however, to get production like his first year in Milwaukee in 2012, when he smashed 27 home runs and drove in 105 runs.

Roenicke didn't put an exact number on how many games he'd like to get out of Ramirez, so potential fantasy owners should monitor the situation this spring.

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Matt Wieters has a definite goal this spring. He wants to be ready to catch on Opening Day.

The Baltimore Orioles star, who underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last June 17, is already catching bullpen sessions at spring training. He can hit, too. He just hasn't tried to throw out baserunners yet.

Wieters is hoping he'll be ready to catch on the nine-month anniversary of his surgery, March 17. That will give him enough time to be ready for the April 6 opener at Tampa Bay.

Last year, the Orioles won the AL East despite getting just 26 games out of the three-time All-Star catcher. Manager Buck Showalter says that even though the time won without him, they're better with him.

"We missed him. I don't care how good our guys that took up the slack were. We missed him. A lot of things he brought more than offensively and defensively," Showalter said.

"It's good to see him back and smiling and knowing that the end game's not too far away."

Wieters traveled with the team in the last two months of the season, supplying moral support when he could.

Now, he wants to put what he learned into action. He thinks that if he can catch some games between mid-March and the opener that will be enough.

"It should be plenty of time if we can get those two weeks in before Opening Day. This whole year is going to be a matter of how the body feels," Wieters said. "The big part of it is getting to know your pitchers and what they like to do, and thankfully we have a lot of guys who I've caught in the heat of the battle."

"At the same time, there's a lot of checkmarks you have to go through during spring training: catching nine innings, catching back-to-back days, things that you go into spring training trying to get off that checklist. So just mentally when opening day is here, you feel ready to play baseball," he said.

Showalter will let Wieters catch in Baltimore's first intrasquad game on March 1, but will make sure basestealing isn't allowed. He'll also have him catch bullpen sessions, and will have Wieters serve as the designated hitter in early games.

"I don't want to get to the 17th and him catch three innings the first time. I want him to catch five, six, seven out of the chute," Showalter said. "He's doing everything except throwing 100 percent to the bases. That's it. He's ready. His legs should come quickly."

Wieters is one of 11 Orioles who can be free agents after this season. That doesn't enter his mind, he insists.

"Our goal every year no matter who's in this clubhouse is to go out there and win the division and win it all. That's our goal no matter what contract situations are up and it's the same thing this year. This year more than anything, I have more of an appreciation and more of an excitement about the opportunity to go out and play," Wieters said.

NOTES: The Orioles completed their January trade to the Pittsburgh Pirates for OF Travis Snider by sending minor league pitcher Steven Brault to Pittsburgh. ... INF Paul Janish reported to camp eight days after surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow. He thinks he'll be ready to play in three to four weeks.

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JUPITER, Fla. -- The St. Louis Cardinals intend to limit Adam Wainwright's workload during the spring and perhaps into the season, something their ace isn't completely confident should be a goal.

Wainwright averaged 222 innings the past three seasons.

He went 20-9 last year, then had surgery to remove torn cartilage from his right elbow after St. Louis was eliminated by the San Francisco Giants in the NL Championship Series.

Manager Mike Matheny said Friday the most noticeable change this spring may be the number of starts Wainwright gets. Matheny didn't specify a limitation for Wainwright, who made five spring starts last year.

"It will just be him continuing to get the work, but it just might not be work on the game field," Matheny said.

Wainwright said he could probably be ready for the opener with four starts, but wasn't as sure about his sharpness if he made just three starts.

But, he added, "As long as we are talking about limiting starts now and not in the regular season I'm fine with it."

Wainwright already throws a less vigorous bullpen session between starts than many starters. He pointed out that the Cardinals won the Central by two games last season so every one of his starts counted.

"If I take starts off we may not get to the postseason," Wainwright said. "And getting there, to me, seems pretty important."

Wainwright joked that the answer to scaling the workload back may be a matter of being more efficient.

"I'm getting paid to play every five days as it is, not every day," Wainwright said. "If I'm skipping my one every five days, good Lord, what am I getting paid for?"

The Cardinals realize keeping the ball out of Wainwright's hand isn't going to be easy.

"He's our ace, he's going to want to pitch," general manager John Mozeliak said.

The 20-game winner was among those throwing off a mound on the first official workout for pitchers and catchers. He spent part of a short session working on his cutter.

It was the third time Wainwright has thrown off a mound since arriving in Florida a few weeks early.

Wainwright isn't the only pitcher the Cardinals are watching closely because of an injury suffered in 2014. Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia also threw Friday.

Wacha missed much of last season with a stress reaction in his shoulder and Garcia was limited to seven starts before undergoing surgery to relieve nerve compression. A healthy Wacha's spot in the rotation is secure while Garcia, who hasn't pitched in more than 20 games since 2011, isis fighting for the fifth spot in the rotation.

"He's a guy that's never been a doubt about his stuff," Matheny said. "He's going to have to show durability and I don't know if there's enough time through spring training to actually show that."

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- After hitting an $11 million jackpot with the Pittsburgh Pirates, infielder Jung Ho Kang wants to pay it forward with other ballplayers in his native Korea.

Kang signed a four-year contract with the Pirates, who in December paid a $5 million posting fee to the Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization.

The 27-year-old Kang is the first position player to jump from the KBO to Major League Baseball.

"I know that if I do well, more Korean players will come here," Kang said through an interpreter. "So, while I feel pressure (to perform), I'm also very excited about opening the market here for Korean players."

Kang was among three Korean players to be posted over the winter, but he is the only one who signed with an MLB team. The San Diego Padres were unable to work out a contract with pitcher Kwang-hyun Kim. In November, the Kia Tigers rejected a bid for pitcher Hyeon-jong Yang.

The Pirates scouted Kang for a couple of years, but kept their interest in him hidden during the posting process.

"It was quite a surprise," Kang said. "I didn't expect the Pirates to bid on me."

The KBO's marquee export is pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu, who signed a six-year, $36 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012.

"I'm excited to face him again," said Kang, who homered off the left-hander in Ryu's final game in the KBO.

Two Korean hitters, Shin-Soo Choo and Hee-Seop Choi, found success in MLB. However, both were signed as amateurs and developed in the minor leagues.

Over nine seasons in Korea, Kang, batted .298 with an .886 OPS. Last season, he hit .356 with 40 home runs in 117 games.

Kang has a strong, accurate throwing arm and played shortstop with Nexen. At 6-feet, 180 pounds, his stocky lower body was not an issue on the artificial turf fields of the KBO.

Many scouts, however, believe he's better suited for third base in the majors.

"I have no idea where I'll play," Kang said. "That's decided by (manager) Clint Hurdle. I'll prepare for all the things they want me to do."

The Pirates have established players at all four infield spots. Shortstop Jordy Mercer batted .255 with 12 homers in 2015, his first full season as a starter. Neil Walker hit a career-best 23 home runs, the highest single-season total for a Pirates second baseman.

Josh Harrison, who batted .315 in a breakout season last year, will start at third base. Pedro Alvarez, a former first-round pick who shared the National League home run title in 2013, will move from third to first base this year.

Hurdle said Kang will play shortstop for at least the first couple weeks of spring training.

"Once he's built up some time and comfort at shortstop, we'll move him to third," Hurdle said. "If those both work well, we might move him to second. We're just going to have communication with him and get him reps. We want to put our eyes on him, too, in our camp, at this level, with the speed of this game."

After signing Kang, the Pirates allowed him to work out for a couple of weeks in Surprise, Ariz., with his former Nexen teammates. Kang got a few lessons on playing second base from Nexen manager Kyung-yeop Yeom.

"It's been quite a long time since I played second base," Kang said. "At first, it was a little awkward. But as time went on, I adjusted to it. I feel it's pretty much the same as any other position."

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Joe Girardi has an interesting dilemma on his hands.

The New York Yankees manager is tasked with assigning bullpen roles this spring, and may employ a strategy fans in New York haven't seen in a very long time.

"I think you could do that," Girardi told reporters Friday when asked about the possibility of Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances sharing closing duties this season. "I think you have to see how people react when they're in the situation. I feel good about both of those guys doing it."

The Yankees have had a clear-cut closer since 1997, thanks to future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera and the emergence of David Robertson last season. Robertson moved on to join the Chicago White Sox this winter, leaving Girardi with a hole to fill.

The skipper got a firsthand view of what Betances can do last year, and had to be impressed by the righty's 1.40 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 90 innings of work.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman provided Girardi with some insurance, however, when he inked Miller to a four-year contract this offseason. The left-hander's wipeout slider is perhaps the best in the game, but he, like Betances, doesn't boast a lot of closing experience. In fact, the two hurlers have only two combined career saves between them.

Fantasy owners will want to pay attention to the battle throughout the spring to see if a front-runner emerges in order to maximize saves.

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The worst position player not named Dan Uggla in MLB has decided to change his name. Not like it will help him hit: http://www.nj.com/mets/index.ssf/2015/02/atlanta_braves_outfielder_bj_upton_changes_his_nam.html#incart_river

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Albert Pujols has only occupied one spot in the batting order since joining the Los Angeles Angels in 2012, but the 35-year-old emphasized Sunday he's willing to hit anywhere in the lineup to help the team win.

Pujols, a nine-time All-Star, said he'd be willing to move to the cleanup spot this season should manager Mike Scioscia want to bump Mike Trout down into the No. 3 spot that Pujols has dutifully occupied for the last three seasons.

"I don't have any problem with that," Pujols told Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. "The key is you have to find someone in front of Trouty that can get on base and set the table like Kole (Calhoun). It's tough to find someone like that …

"This is not about me. No matter if I hit second, third, fourth, fifth, eighth or whatever. I’m going to go out and do my job."

After battling plantar fasciitis for much of 2013, Pujols rebounded nicely last season, blasting 28 home runs with a 125 OPS+ over 159 games. Pujols also became a member of the exclusive 500-homer club, but stressed that the season was still something of a letdown.

"It was a disappointing season," Pujols said. "We didn't change our mission, and our mission is to win. That's my mission, and I can speak for those guys, because I've been around those guys the last three years and see their attitude about winning. If we don't accomplish our job, it doesn't matter whether we won MVP or Cy Young, you know there's unfinished business."

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When Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. began to dismantle his roster earlier this offseason, the executive publicly remarked that his rebuilding club would be better off without first baseman Ryan Howard.

Months later, however, Amaro called the three-time All-Star into his office to offer him an apology.

"Frankly, I apologized for those comments that I made that were public," Amaro told Ryan Lawrence of Philly.com. "And I think he appreciated that. Other than that, I want to keep the conversation private. It was a good talk."

This winter, Amaro began to jettison some of his aging team's veteran players, and hoped to unload Howard - and the $60 million remaining on his contract - before the season, as well.

Despite Amaro's efforts, Howard is poised to begin his 12th season with the Phillies barring an improbable trade over the next few weeks. Though Howard no longer resembles the player who averaged 44 home runs and a 139 OPS+ from 2006 to 2011, Amaro remains impressed by the aging slugger's work ethic even as his production wanes.

"I think he's motivated (all the time)," Amaro said. "He's a competitive guy, he wants to do well for the Phillies. He wants to help us win. And I think that’s never really changed - he's always been that guy. … He plays with passion, he wants to do well. I think people have to understand that. This is not somebody that is a negative force. This is a guy who's always been a very positive person. Great teammate. Good person for the younger players to be around. Never had any issues."

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Brett Cecil has emerged over the last two seasons as one of baseball's elite relief pitchers, and the 28-year-old wants the opportunity in 2015 to handle the ninth inning for the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays are expected to consider both Cecil and prospect Aaron Sanchez this spring for the vacant closer role, and the bespectacled left-hander emphasized Sunday his desire to land the gig.

"Absolutely, I want it," Cecil told MLB.com's Gregor Chisolm. "I don't think I necessarily have to prove anything. I can't go out there and tank spring training, but I think they know I can do it."

Though Cecil struggled as a starter earlier in his career, the former first-round pick has thrived since converting to a relief role in 2013. Over last two seasons, Cecil boasts a 30.2 percent strikeout rate that ranks 15th-best among relievers while posting a 2.76 ERA (146 ERA+) across 126 relief appearances.

Cecil has also ameliorated the platoon splits that contributed to his struggles as a starter, as the southpaw limited right-handed batters to a .569 OPS last season and didn't surrender a single home run in 143 plate appearances.

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The Boston Red Sox have reportedly landed highly touted Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada with a signing bonus in the $30-million range, according to multiple reports.

Moncada, considered the best prospect to leave Cuba in years, was being pursued by several big-market teams, including the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Under terms of baseball's international signing guidelines, Boston's acquisition of Moncada comes at a hefty price - the team will be subject to a 100 percent penalty tax for exceeding their bonus pool for current signing period.

From MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez:

According to those guidelines, clubs are penalized during the upcoming 2015-16 signing period if they exceed their bonus pools by certain amounts. The Red Sox had already exceeded their bonus pool before this signing and been given the maximum penalty. It's a severe measure that includes a 100-percent tax on their pool overage and prohibits them from signing any pool-eligible player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods. Including the penalty for exceeding their bonus pool, Moncada's deal will cost the Red Sox approximately $60 million -- the bonus plus the penalty.

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CC Sabathia is looking to regain his old form. Literally.

The New York Yankees left-hander reported to camp Friday at 305 pounds, the same weight he was at when he won the 2007 Cy Young with the Cleveland Indians, and 30 pounds more than he tipped the scales at last spring.

Sabathia, who said he put on 25 pounds while rehabbing his surgically repaired knee last season, admitted the weight gain was by design.

"I lost a bunch of weight drastically, pretty quick, two years ago and was kind of off-balance," Sabathia told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News on Saturday. "I didn't know really how my body was working. I feel like this is a good weight. I feel a little stronger. I feel my legs under me, being a lot stronger, and being able to push off the mound."

Manager Joe Girardi said he's comfortable with Sabathia's weight after the pitcher consulted with team doctor Chris Ahmad and the club's medical trainers this offseason in an effort to return the six-time All-Star to his previous form.

"He's probably had success at a lot of different weights," Girardi said. "The big thing for us is to keep him out there."

The 34-year-old lefty was hobbled by a degenerative cartilage problem in his right knee last season and was done after having surgery in July. He's expected to receive regular injections and fluid drainage as needed.

''It's a bum knee,'' Sabathia said Friday. ''But it feels good right now. It's something I'm excited about this spring.''

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Dioner Navarro admitted Monday he asked to be traded after the Toronto Blue Jays signed free agent Russell Martin, and said he's disappointed the team has yet to accommodate his request.

Navarro, speaking to reporters at the Blue Jays' spring training complex in Dunedin, Fla., said he remains hopeful the club will move him so he'll have the opportunity to start everyday.

"I signed a two-year deal here to catch everyday and unfortunately they felt like they needed to make a move," Navarro said, according to MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. "I asked for a trade right away and up to today that's still my goal. I would like to go to a place where I can play everyday."

The Blue Jays landed Martin on a five-year, $82-million contract this winter to be the club's new starting catcher after Navarro hit 12 homers with a .712 OPS in 2014.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Navarro will compete with Danny Valencia and Justin Smoak for at-bats at the designated hitter position this season.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to terms with free-agent pitcher Dustin McGowan on a one-year deal, the team announced Monday.

McGowan's deal is reportedly a minimum-salary based contract with a $1 million bonus for making the roster and an additional $1.5 million in incentives, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.

The 32-year-old logged 82 innings for Toronto last season after a spate of injuries limited him to just 30 appearance from 2009 to 2013. His expected signing was first reported Sunday by MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.

McGowan opened the 2014 campaign in Toronto's rotation but was relegated to the bullpen in May after stumbling to a 5.08 ERA over eight starts. Across 45 relief appearances, McGowan managed a 3.35 ERA with a 2.25 strikeout-to-walk ratio and made it through the season without requiring a stint on the disabled list.

Though McGowan wasn't exactly dominant in relief - he yielded eight home runs over 43 innings (1.67 per nine innings) after being consigned to the bullpen - the Dodgers' bullpen depth was compromised after closer Kenley Jansen underwent foot surgery Tuesday.

McGowan, who had spent his entire career with the Toronto Blue Jays, was selected with the 33rd pick of the 2000 draft.

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Speculation surrounding Sean Nolin's potential spot in the Oakland Athletics' starting rotation will have to wait after a concerning throwing session Saturday.

Manager Bob Melvin told reporters Nolin will be shut down for an unspecified amount of time after a flat-ground throwing session caused the 25-year-old pain. The soreness could be attributed to his offseason sports hernia surgery, according to John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group.

"He's still feeling a little tug," Melvin said.

Melvin indicated there's no timetable for his return and the injury has moved him further behind several other candidates on the Athletics.

Nolin arrived in Oakland from the Toronto Blue Jays during the winter as part of the trade that sent Josh Donaldson north of the border.

Nolin, who has 2.1 major-league innings to his name, registered a 3.50 ERA during 17 starts with the Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons, in 2014.

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lobo316 wrote: The Boston Red Sox have reportedly landed highly touted Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada with a signing bonus in the $30-million range, according to multiple reports.

Red Sox fans are freaking out over this signing. :)

Ben Badler@BenBadler
Once it's official, Yoan Moncada immediately becomes Boston's new No. 1 prospect, and the No. 10 prospect in baseball.
6:45 AM - 23 Feb 2015




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Less than one month into his tenure as commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred instituted changes designed to hasten the game's pace of play.

The newly appointed commissioner remarked Monday that he'd be open to shortening the season, as well.

"I don't think length of season is a topic that can't ever be discussed," Manfred told ESPN's Darren Rovell. "I don't think it would be impossible to go back to 154 (games)."

Manfred, however, noted that amending the length of the season is not among his priorities, while any change to the schedule would have to be approved by the players' union.

Though baseball used a 154-game schedule for years, the American League adopted the 162-game schedule in 1961 before the National League followed suit one year later.

"We already have some of our record books which reflect a 154-game season and obviously some of it reflects a 162-game season," Manfred said. "So there's some natural flexibility there. But if anyone suggests to go to something like 110 games, then there's a real problem. That will throw all our numbers out of whack."

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FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Minnesota Twins have slotted Phil Hughes as their opening day starter.
Manager Paul Molitor said Monday that Hughes has been ''penciled in'' to take the mound on April 6 when the Twins play at Detroit, provided the right-hander stays healthy through spring training. That's according to the throwing schedule set up by pitching coach Neil Allen plotted out for the next six weeks.
Molitor downplayed the significance of his confirmation and said ''if that's newsworthy, then so be it.'' The selection of Hughes to lead the rotation would hardly be construed as a surprise, considering the season he had for the Twins in 2014.
Hughes was 16-10 with a 3.52 ERA in 32 starts last year, setting a major league record with an 11.63 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He threw 73 percent of pitches for strikes, tops among pitchers who faced 500 or more batters.

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CanadianHorseman wrote: lobo316 wrote: The Boston Red Sox have reportedly landed highly touted Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada with a signing bonus in the $30-million range, according to multiple reports.

Red Sox fans are freaking out over this signing. :)

Ben Badler@BenBadler
Once it's official, Yoan Moncada immediately becomes Boston's new No. 1 prospect, and the No. 10 prospect in baseball.
6:45 AM - 23 Feb 2015




Fantastic signing relative to what he is perceived to be.  He could have been the #1 pick in the amateur draft from many reports. The Steinbrenner brothers suck balls and Cashman is a fucking puppet. 


I'm not taking the Yankees seriously for the next few seasons, until the bad contracts are off the books.  Maybe, by then, the Stein kid$$$$$ will sell the team or let their puppet go but to expect something good of this current outfit would just be stupid.  As such, I'll be posting pictures of famous Pinstripe failures for a "serenity now" check.

Last edited on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 07:20 am by HBF

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The Detroit Tigers are bringing back free-agent reliever Joba Chamberlain.

Chamberlain and the team agreed to terms on a one-year deal, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski announced Tuesday to reporters at the club's spring training complex in Florida. The deal is worth $1 million, plus incentives, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

"He really wanted to come back," Dombrowski said, before adding Chamberlain turned down offers from other clubs worth more money.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were among several teams that had reportedly expressed interest in the veteran right-hander.

Chamberlain worked primarily out of an eighth-inning, set-up role in Detroit last year and excelled, providing stability for a Tigers bullpen that struggled to find consistent results during the regular season. He pitched to a 3.57 ERA with 59 strikeouts over 63 innings, though his success waned following the All-Star break.

The hard-throwing reliever bombed in his only two postseason appearances, allowing a combined four earned runs and three hits in just 1/3 innings during the club's AL Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles.

Chamberlain was especially ineffective in Game 2 of the series after entering the content in the eighth with a three-run lead and leaving one out later with the bases loaded. The Orioles went on to win the game and sweep Detroit out of the playoffs.

Despite his struggles, the Tigers have long held interest in bringing the 29-year-old pitcher back to provide insurance behind a volatile group that includes closer Joe Nathan.

"We have unfinished business as a team and I personally do," Chamberlain said Tuesday. "That was a big factor."

Dombrowski said following the season that Chamberlain's second-half meltdown – he limited opponents to a .590 OPS prior to the break compared to a .726 OPS post – was in part a result of his ailing mother's condition.

The former top prospect spent his first seven seasons as a member of the New York Yankees before signing with the Tigers as a free agent last winter.

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Newly appointed MLB commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed Monday that his office will reach a decision shortly regarding tampering allegations that arose when the Chicago Cubs hired Joe Maddon just days after the veteran manager opted out of his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays.

“We will have the Maddon situation resolved before the season begins,” Manfred told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s easy to do a quick investigation and reach a quick decision.

“Our preference here, because it’s a very important issue in terms of the way the clubs interact with each other, was to do a very, very thorough investigation and make sure we make the right decision.”

Maddon's opt-out clause was triggered after general manager Andrew Friedman left the Rays in October for a position with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the 61-year-old signed a five-year, $25-million deal with the Cubs shortly thereafter. Maddon's hiring came almost immediately after the Cubs dismissed Rick Renteria, who led the club to a 73-89 record in his first and only season as manager.

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer, however, doesn't seem overly concerned about the allegations.

“We’re not going to comment on it directly,” Hoyer said Monday. “But we’re confident in the outcome, and we’ve obviously cooperated fully.

“Obviously, we’d like a resolution soon. But at the same time it’s not something that distracts us, and we’re confident in the outcome.”

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Manny Ramirez will serve as a hitting consultant for the Chicago Cubs this season, the club announced Tuesday, reuniting the 12-time All-Star with a trio of contributors from the World Series-winning Boston Red Sox teams.

President of baseball operations Theo Epstein hired his former player to help mentor the club's young group of hitters after Ramirez found success in a similar role last season with the Cubs' Triple-A affiliate in Iowa.

"Manny got rave reviews from everyone he worked with," Epstein said following the announcement.

Ramirez, who turns 43 this spring, served as a player-coach for the Iowa Cubs in 2014 and was credited with helping Cuban power-hitter Jorge Soler's ascension to the majors last summer.

"I learned a lot from Manny," Soler told Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago in August. "He's always talking with me about hitting, about personality stuff, what I'm doing on the field, off the field. Again, he's a tremendous person."

Ramirez, who won two titles with the Red Sox under Epstein's reign as general manager, will be joined by former teammate Kevin Youkilis, whom the Cubs also officially named as part of their front office Tuesday. Youkilis will consult on scouting and player development.

Epstein said he expects Ramirez to be in uniform at Wrigley Field helping hitters one homestand per month.

The hiring of Ramirez and Youkilis also reunites the pair with Cubs' offseason acquisition Jon Lester. Ramirez and Youkilis were members of Boston's 2004 World Series-winning team, while Lester won with the pair in 2007.

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Andrew Bailey hasn't thrown a pitch in a major-league game since July of 2013, before shoulder problems derailed his promising career, but the resilient 30-year-old nevertheless remains confident he can earn a spot this spring in the New York Yankees' bullpen.

"Everything feels great," Bailey told MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. "I'm with the team and doing everything as I would normally and if I need a little extra work here or there, that's fine, too. I'm here to compete and earn a spot."

Bailey, a two-time All-Star, signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees last February after being non-tendered by the Boston Red Sox several months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn capsule and damaged labrum in his right shoulder.

Bailey, however, encountered numerous setbacks and was eventually shut down for the remainder of the campaign in August before the Yankees declined his 2015 option at season's end. The Yankees, though, offered him a new minor-league deal in November that could finally enable the 30-year-old to revive his career.

"Compared to where he was last year to where he is, there's significant improvement," manager Joe Girardi said. "I don't know exactly what we'll see as far as games, and his bullpens are a little more spread out than some of the other relievers, but that's on purpose right now. Our hope is that we can catch him up and keep him healthy."

Earning a spot in the New York's bullpen should prove challenging for Bailey, who's expected to start facing live hitters shortly, as the Yankees bolstered their relief corps this winter by adding Andrew Miller, David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve.

Over parts of six seasons in the majors, Bailey owns a 2.64 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP in 206 career appearances, managing a 3.29 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 218 innings. The former first-round pick collected 75 saves with a 205 ERA+ for the Oakland Athletics over his first three seasons in the majors before battling injuries and inconsistency with the Red Sox from 2012 to 2013.

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New York Mets fans have clamored for an upgrade at shortstop all winter long, but they can finally take solace knowing their general manager put forth his best effort.

He said so in a court of law.

Sandy Alderson and his wife, Linda, reported to jury duty earlier this month in New York, and the 67-year-old GM entertained the courtroom with this playful exchange during the selection process, according to Jared Diamond of The Wall Street Journal:

Question: What do you do for a living?
Alderson: I'm the general manager of the New York Mets.

Question: What does your spouse do?
Alderson: Actually, my wife's sitting right behind me.

Question: What do you do in your free time?
Alderson: Well, now I'm looking for a shortstop.

The courtroom burst into laughter. (Alderson emphasized that he meant his remark as a joke.)

At that point, Alderson didn't expect to be put on the jury. He certainly didn't expect both him and his wife to be put on the same jury. But after facing inquiries about whether he and his wife always agree on everything (they don't) and whether they could avoid discussing the case at home (they could), Sandy and Linda were both chosen and wound up serving together.

Alderson, who spent three days on the jury before joining his team in Port St. Lucie for spring training, called it an interesting experience.

"I didn't feel I was entitled to get out of it," he said. "I just happened to get put in the jury box and answered questions, and they didn't challenge me for whatever reason. I had to be matter of fact as to what I did."

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David Ortiz, the nine-time All-Star who's cavorted in three World Series parades since coming to Boston in 2003, need not worry that he has just one guaranteed season left on his contract with the Red Sox.

"David knows he's going to be a Red Sox (player) as long as he wants to be a Red Sox (player)," general manager Ben Cherington told ESPN's Gordon Edes on Tuesday.

The Red Sox haven't recently approached Ortiz to discuss his future with the club - the 39-year-old's contract has a vesting option for 2016 and a team option for the following season - but Cherington reaffirmed his importance to both the team and the city of Boston.

"There's been no discussion on it recently," Cherington said. "Honestly, we're just happy he's here. He's a huge part of what we're doing on the field. I think, given his stature and personality, I know he means a lot to people off the field, too. He's part of the Red Sox legacy, part of the Boston pro sports legacy. He's also a DH who hits in the middle of the lineup. That's what we're focused on. We're happy to keep him there as long as he keeps doing it. There hasn't been any conversation."

Ortiz's option for next season vests with 425 plate appearances in 2015 - an easily attainable figure barring any serious injury - but his $10-million salary could constitute a bargain considering how he's managed to defy the aging curve.

Only five qualified hitters have managed a greater on-base plus slugging than Ortiz since 2013 - he boasts a gaudy .286/.375/.541 line over that span - and though his batting average dropped considerably last season, he still managed 35 home runs - his most since 2007.

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Adam Wainwright is returning to St. Louis to see a specialist Thursday after experiencing abdominal pain during workouts in Jupiter, Fla.

Wainwright, who is on a delayed throwing program this spring, said the soreness has limited his workouts, but not his ability to pitch.

"It shouldn't effect him at that point, or any more beyond that point," general manager John Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Tuesday. "I would say (the level of concern) is a medium at this point."

Wainwright was noticeably absent from Tuesday's workout while he received additional treatment and testing from the club's medical staff. Mozeliak said the 33-year-old will return to St. Louis to see Dr. Michael Brunt at Washington University for further evaluation.

"We want him to see a specialist," Mozeliak said, noting it would be incorrect to label the injury as a sports hernia. "So we have a better idea."

The Cardinals had already planned to proceed with caution this spring after Wainwright underwent a minor procedure on his surgically repaired right elbow during the offseason.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Anti-smoking advocates are hoping to strike out chewing tobacco at California baseball games.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids announced Tuesday that it will sponsor legislation to ban all tobacco products at baseball venues, including Major League Baseball and organized league games.

MLB says it supports banning smokeless tobacco and the spirit of the proposal. Using chewing tobacco, known as dipping, is already prohibited in minor leagues.

The issue was highlighted by the death last June of former San Diego Padres all-star Tony Gwynn, who believed his oral cancer was linked to longtime chewing tobacco use.

''Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product,'' said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in a news release.

His group's push is one of several proposals in the California Legislature this year to limit the use of tobacco products, including using e-cigarettes in public and increasing the legal age to buy cigarettes to 21. Public health advocates fear the rise of alternatives to traditional cigarettes undermines the success of anti-smoking campaigns.

Tobacco groups in recent years have successfully opposed less sweeping legislation in California. A bill to ban e-cigarette vending machine sales could not pass the Legislature last year.

Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, will carry the proposed baseball tobacco ban, which would apply to players and fans for games across all levels.

Major League Baseball negotiates chewing tobacco rules with the players' union, which previously agreed to ban carrying tobacco tins during games and dipping during interviews. Union spokesman Greg Bouris says tobacco use is discouraged, but the union has no comment on the proposed legislation.

The union has signaled it's open to discussing a ban when it negotiates a new contract in two years.

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who resorted to hypnosis to break his chewing tobacco habit, credited internal efforts to reduce tobacco use in Major League Baseball.

''You learn to play with it,'' he said Tuesday during spring training in Arizona. ''To force that, to ban it, it's going to be difficult. It's something you have to want to, you really do.''

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Major League Baseball began educating teams this week about the new rules implemented to improve pace-of-play this season, detailing the new policies along with potential penalties for violators.

"I thought they did a great job of presenting it," Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Tuesday after his team's meeting with MLB officials. "I thought it was a good meeting. I don't think that there was anything I was alarmed by.... I think some of these changes are going to be subtle. Like anything, you'll have proponents and you'll have people who are against it. But I'm all in favor. I think it's a great thing. And I love that they're being proactive about it."

ESPN's Jayson Stark provided an itemized list of the changes as relayed by Peter Woodfork, the league's senior vice president of baseball operations, and other sources:

• The timers in ballparks that are used to count down between-inning commercial breaks will also be used during pitching changes in the same way. When a reliever leaves the bullpen and reaches the field, the timer will be activated - starting at 2 minutes, 25 seconds on local TV games, 2:45 on national games. The reliever will have that amount of time to reach the mound and throw his warmup pitches. As with between-inning breaks, relievers are supposed to throw their final warmup pitch with 30 seconds left on the clock.

• When players violate one of the new rules - by not being ready to pitch or hit when the clock counts down or when a hitter leaves the batter's box between pitches - they are subject to fines up to $500 per violation.

• If a player is a habitual violator, particularly of the batter's box rule, umpires are expected to have some leeway to handle those situations differently. But for the most part, league officials will speak to habitual violators afterward, off the field. In general, umpires are likely to be urged to avoid confrontations over violations of the pace-of-game rules.

• Hitters who keep one foot in the box but maintain lengthy routines of adjusting batting gloves and other pre-pitch rituals will not be considered to be in violation of the new rules, even though it runs contrary to the spirit of them.

• While managers will be encouraged to signal for replay reviews from the dugout area, umpires and league officials understand that won't be possible in every case. In fact, it's expected that most replays will still require the manager to inform the umpire verbally of exactly what he is challenging.

• Managers are being told they can still wait for their video consultants to let them know whether to challenge a play and that they won't necessarily be under any pressure to challenge plays more quickly.

• Although there won't be a pitch clock in the major leagues this year, MLB will be supplying information to all clubs about how long each pitcher takes between pitches.

Though the league expects at least a little resistance to some of the new rules, Woodfork emphasized that these changes were implemented to improve game tempo - regular-season games averaged a record 3 hours, 8 minutes in 2014 - without compromising the game's integrity.

"We're trying to do something overall to help improve the game," Woodfork said. "The program will be effective with the co-operation of players, umpires and the clubs all working together. The goal is for everyone to get on the same page and try to make things better."

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Alex Rodriguez, first baseman. It's possible.

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he plans to talk to Rodriguez Wednesday about moving across the diamond.

I'll talk to him about taking some grounders over there just to be prepared, if I need to give a guy a day off or however we chose to do it. But yeah, I'm going to talk to him about it and see how comfortable he is.

The Yankees originally floated Rodriguez at first base as a contingency plan back in October, and with A-Rod officially back in the fold Wednesday, when players report, it's time for action.

Asked about the possibility Monday, Rodriguez sounded hesitant, but willing.

Umm, I haven't taken any (grounders at first), I don't think, in my life. I'm willing to try whatever Joe wants me to try.

Rodriguez has spent his entire career at shortstop and third base. He broke into the league at short with the Seattle Mariners, but moved to third base as a Yankee, since the position belonged to now-retired Derek Jeter. The move across the diamond is harder than people think, according to Girardi:

Ground balls aren't going to be a problem, and throwing the baseball isn't going to be a problem. It’s the nuances of first. Holding a guy. Coming off the bag. The bunt plays. Understanding your responsibilities, because now he's on the other side. Making the 3-6-3 double play, or the 3-6-1. It's a completely different throw than he's ever made, for the most part. Understanding the cuts and where you're supposed to be. When you go over there, it's not as simple as people think. It's a pretty complicated position.

Mark Teixeira is the Yankees' everyday first baseman, and Girardi's got Garrett Jones on the bench, too. But the Yankees' skip has to find a way to get and keep A-Rod in the lineup, whether that's spelling Chase Headley at third base, or Teixeira at first, or using him as the designated hitter.

While a position change may be in the cards, it's A-Rod's bat that will ultimately decide his fate in the Bronx.

Girardi concluded:

To me, the most important thing is getting him at-bats. I'm going to take it week by week, see where he's at physically and how he's responding, make sure he's getting enough at-bats.

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The Tigers signed Joba Chamberlain for 1 year, 1 million.
Going to purchase World Series tickets right now.....*sarcasm*... will this emoticon work?? :cool:

Last edited on Wed Feb 25th, 2015 09:34 pm by chrob61

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The New York Yankees are attempting to teach an old dog some new tricks.

Manager Joe Girardi has spoken to Alex Rodriguez about learning how to play first base, and A-Rod is open to the idea of learning a new position at the age of 39.

Rodriguez, who usually serves as a third baseman or designated hitter, will have some additional support from one of his teammates this spring.

"I'll enjoy working with him over there," Mark Teixeira told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. "He got to teach me some things; now I'm going to be able to teach him some things at first."

Teixeira's wonky wrist forced the Yankees to play catcher Brian McCann at first base 16 times last season due to the team's lack of depth at the position.

"We need him," Teixeira added. "We need him in the middle of the order. I'd love to see him be healthy and play a full season - however many games a full season is for him nowadays. Alex loves playing baseball and he's going to do everything possible to get himself back to being a productive player."

Girardi isn't concerned about Rodriguez's general fielding ability, but acknowledges the position will present new challenges for the veteran.

"It's the nuances of first; holding a guy, coming off the bag, the bunt plays," Girardi said. "Understanding your responsibilities, because now he's on the other side."

Girardi plans to get Rodriguez into one of the team's first two spring games in early March, barring any physical setbacks.

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What's worse than PED's ?




Josh Hamilton appears to be in hot water with Major League Baseball, again.

The Los Angeles Angels slugger met with MLB officials Wednesday about a disciplinary issue, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

The team is bracing for possible penalties, but general manager Jerry Dipoto is not tipping his cap regarding what the meeting was about.

"I can say that Josh is going to meet with league officials in New York," Dipoto said. "At this point I have no other information to offer."

Hamilton's locker at the team's spring training facility is vacant, and the outfielder is rehabilitating from February shoulder surgery at a friend's ranch in Houston. It was already reported Hamilton would miss at least the first month of the season due to the injury.

Hamilton has a history of addiction problems with cocaine and alcohol, which resulted in multiple suspensions and rehabilitation stints. There is no indication, however, at least at this point, that Hamilton is being disciplined due to a drug violation.

The situation appears to be serious, though, according to a tweet from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal:

Asked a baseball executive if Hamilton’s discipline was for PEDs. His response: “Worse.” The executive declined to elaborate.

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 25, 2015
The news could be potentially very troubling for the Angels because of their sizable financial investment in Hamilton.

Angels have only paid Josh Hamilton $34M of his $125M contract. Owe him $25.4M in 2015, $32.4M in 2016, and another $32.4M in 2017.

— Drew Silva (@drewsilv) February 25, 2015

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Bryce Harper, the obnoxiously talented 22-year-old with a pair of All-Star appearances on his resume already, made his long-term goals with the Washington Nationals clear Wednesday in Florida.

"I'm not done here," Harper told Mark Zuckerman of Comcast SportsNet. "I'm going to bring a title to DC, no matter what. I don't care how long it takes me."

Selected first overall in the 2010 draft, Harper has played an invaluable role in reviving the Nationals, leading the club to two division titles in his three seasons in Washington while enduring the kind of scrutiny befitting the most aggressively hyped prospect in history.

Injuries have limited Harper to 218 games over the last two seasons, but the youngster's production through the nascent stages of his career still stand out in a historical context. Harper, the National League Rookie of the Year in 2012, remains just one of 14 players to compile at least 50 home runs with an on-base plus slugging greater than .815 before celebrating his 22nd birthday.

Despite battling a thumb injury and some regression last season, Harper still helped the Nationals to a 96-66 record, though the club was ousted in the NL Division Series by the San Francisco Giants.

The scrutiny on Harper likely won't relent in 2015 as the Nationals attempt to defend their division crown, though he'll share this burden with offseason addition Max Scherzer, whose arrival in Washington inspired even more optimism in Harper.

"I just started laughing," recalled Harper. "I'm like: 'Where's my ring?'"

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The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed right-hander Chad Gaudin to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, general manager Farhan Zaidi announced Wednesday.

Gaudin signed a minor-league pact with the Philadelphia Phillies in January 2014, but was released a few weeks later after failing a physical.

The 30-year-old last pitched for the San Francisco Giants in 2013, going 5-2 with a 3.06 ERA in 30 appearances.

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The San Diego Padres are looking for ways to get Carlos Quentin's bat into their revamped lineup, and one scenario involves working him out at a new position for the first time in his career.

Quentin will see time at first base this spring, manager Bud Black confirmed Tuesday, after suggesting the change last week in an effort to reclaim a starting spot on the Padres roster.

"I'm looking forward to that challenge," Quentin said Tuesday, according to Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego. "You're an outfielder your entire career, you do the same thing over and over. I'm excited to do something different."

Not that he has a choice.

Quentin, 32, figures to be the odd man out in a crowded outfield that features new additions Justin Upton, Wil Myers and Matt Kemp. After undergoing three surgeries on his right knee and failing to play 90 games in a season since joining the Padres in 2012, Quentin is eager to provide a return on San Diego's investment.

"A lot of things are up in the air. I think everyone's well aware of that," he said. "Revamped outfield. It's understood by me. I'm a professional, and I understand that my health record has not been good. It's been hard for the Padres to count on it."

Quentin is owed $8 million this season with a mutual option valued at $10 million next year.

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Toronto Blue Jays newcomer Russell Martin began Wednesday to familiarize himself with the signature pitch of R.A. Dickey, holding himself at the mercy of the 40-year-old's fluttering knuckleball in their first bullpen session of the spring.

As the two got acquainted with one another on a foggy morning in Dunedin, Fla., Martin - who signed a five-year, $82-million deal with the Blue Jays in November - offered a wonderfully blunt assessment of Dickey's floater.

"That's filthy, man."

Though Josh Thole caught Dickey's first bullpen session of spring training - the 28-year-old has served as Dickey's personal catcher since their days with the New York Mets - manager John Gibbons said Monday that Martin will catch Dickey for the remainder of spring training.

“It’s definitely not an easy task, but if you focus and you follow the ball into the glove, it’s doable," Martin told Sportnset's Shi Davidi after his inaugural session with Dickey.

Martin, who implored Dickey to vary the velocity on his knuckleball without forewarning, received a strong endorsement from his batterymate afterwards.

"He's got a real willingness and desire to unpack what it takes to catch it well," Dickey told TSN's Scott MacArthur. "I don't anticipate us having trouble. I think he's going to be able to do it."

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lobo316 wrote: What's worse than PED's ?




Josh Hamilton appears to be in hot water with Major League Baseball, again.

The Los Angeles Angels slugger met with MLB officials Wednesday about a disciplinary issue, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

The team is bracing for possible penalties, but general manager Jerry Dipoto is not tipping his cap regarding what the meeting was about.

"I can say that Josh is going to meet with league officials in New York," Dipoto said. "At this point I have no other information to offer."

Hamilton's locker at the team's spring training facility is vacant, and the outfielder is rehabilitating from February shoulder surgery at a friend's ranch in Houston. It was already reported Hamilton would miss at least the first month of the season due to the injury.

Hamilton has a history of addiction problems with cocaine and alcohol, which resulted in multiple suspensions and rehabilitation stints. There is no indication, however, at least at this point, that Hamilton is being disciplined due to a drug violation.

The situation appears to be serious, though, according to a tweet from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal:

Asked a baseball executive if Hamilton’s discipline was for PEDs. His response: “Worse.” The executive declined to elaborate.

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 25, 2015
The news could be potentially very troubling for the Angels because of their sizable financial investment in Hamilton.

Angels have only paid Josh Hamilton $34M of his $125M contract. Owe him $25.4M in 2015, $32.4M in 2016, and another $32.4M in 2017.

— Drew Silva (@drewsilv) February 25, 2015


 

 

Josh Hamilton appears to be in hot water with Major League Baseball, again.

The Los Angeles Angels' slugger met with MLB officials Wednesday about a disciplinary issue, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, Hamilton, who has a history of addiction problems with cocaine and alcohol, had a relapse involving "at least cocaine," and informed baseball officials. 

The Angels are bracing for possible penalties, but general manager Jerry Dipoto refused to tip his cap regarding what the meeting was about.

"I can say that Josh is going to meet with league officials in New York," Dipoto said. "At this point I have no other information to offer."

Hamilton's locker at the team's spring training facility is vacant, and the outfielder is rehabilitating from February shoulder surgery at a friend's ranch in Houston. It was already reported Hamilton would miss at least the first month of the season due to the injury.

Hamilton's substance abuse issues have resulted in multiple suspensions and rehabilitation stints throughout his career. Drafted in 1999, he didn't make his MLB debut until 2007, after being suspended from 2004-06. He had alcohol relapses in 2009 and 2012. 

Heyman adds that there's no word Hamilton failed a drug test, and that he would be placed in baseball's drug program as a first-time offender. 



#MLB discipline for Josh Hamilton would be at commissioner's discretion. He is outside standard program because of failed tests in minors.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 26, 2015
Earlier Wednesday, a tweet from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal suggested the situation was quite serious:



Asked a baseball executive if Hamilton’s discipline was for PEDs. His response: “Worse.” The executive declined to elaborate.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 25, 2015
Hamilton's father-in-law also offered a vague response when asked about the situation:



Josh Hamilton's father-in-law Michael Chadwick said player has ``hit a bump in the road, keep him in your prayers.''
— steven marcus (@newsdaymarcus) February 25, 2015
Hypothetically, if Hamilton was suspended for 50 games or the season for a drug relapse, the Angels would not be liable for his $25.4-million salary.

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Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders will miss the first half of the season after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.

Saunders will require surgery and is not expected to return until after the All-Star break.

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Free-agent second baseman Mark Ellis has decided to retire.

"It was definitely time," Ellis told The San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday. "My kids are getting older and I kind of realized it was time to do something else."

Spending the majority of his time with the Oakland Athletics, Ellis finishes his playing career with a .991 fielding percentage, good for fifth all time.

"That's cool, I took a lot of pride in my defense," Ellis said. "That’s what kept me in the big leagues. All those great pitching staffs I played behind, I tried to do anything I could to help them win."

After moving on from Oakland in 2007, Ellis spent time with the Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers and, most recently, the St. Louis Cardinals.

Ellis's most memorable season was 2006, when he established a .997 fielding percentage - a then-MLB record. He was an extremely reliable fielder, but retires with a .262 lifetime batting average.

A's general manager Billy Beane gave Ellis a glowing review, expressing a desire to bring Ellis back to the team in an off-field capacity.

"Mark was the consummate professional, both on and off the field," Beane said. "He brought a work ethic and consistency that you want all young players to emulate. In my 18 years as a GM, we have had a lot of players I have been particularly fond of; Mark was one of those.

"After some deserved time with Sarah and his children, I’m hopeful, when he is ready, Mark will continue his baseball career with the A's."

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The Milwaukee Brewers are reportedly bringing back All-Star closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Multiple reports say Rodriguez and the team have agreed to terms on a two-year contract with a club option for 2017. The deal will pay the right-hander $3 million this season and $6 million in 2016, according to Todd Rosiak of the Journal Sentinel.

Rodriguez had reportedly generated interest from several teams this winter, including the Miami Marlins, after finishing a league-high 66 games for the Brewers in 2014. He was said to be seeking a two-year deal worth around $20 million.

The 32-year-old reliever parlayed an impressive first half into the fifth All-Star appearance of his career last season, recording 27 of his 44 saves prior to the break with a sparkling 0.90 WHIP.

Despite a decline in fastball velocity, Rodriguez is still missing bats thanks to a greater emphasis on his sinker. The 13-year veteran posted a 9.7 K/9 rate last season, striking out 73 batters in 68 innings.

Rodriguez, who holds the single-season record with 62 saves, has a 3.11 ERA and 1.11 WHIP during his four seasons in Milwaukee.

The Brewers were heavily rumored this offseason to be in pursuit of Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, who's owed a potential $26 million over the next two seasons.

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Nick Markakis is burning bridges on his way out of Maryland.

The former Baltimore Orioles outfielder agreed to a four-year, $44-million deal with the Atlanta Braves this offseason, spurning the team he'd spent his entire nine-year career with.

Markakis appeared a lock to re-sign with the O's in November before talks fell apart, and he acknowledged the breakdown was due to the team's concerns regarding an impending neck surgery.

"Don't believe a word they say," Markakis told Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports. "It was all because of my neck. They can say what they want to make them look good. It's all B.S.''

The signing caught former teammate Adam Jones by surprise at the time, who said the Orioles must have had something else planned after not signing Markakis. However, after Baltimore failed to allocate that money elsewhere, Jones would appreciate an answer from the team following Markakis's comments.

"If (the neck) the real reason he's not here, I hope someone can man up and say it," Jones told Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. "Let's say it when everybody wants to know then and now. It always comes out later."

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Mariano Rivera is back with the New York Yankees as a guest spring training instructor.

Rivera, baseball's career saves leader, arrived at Steinbrenner Field on Wednesday. He retired as a player following the 2013 season.

''I've decided to comeback,'' the 45-year-old joked.

Rivera wore a batting practice uniform with his old No. 42 on it and white pinstripe pants as he worked with pitchers.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi joked with Rivera that when Andy Pettitte retired after the 2010 season and came back as an instructor for spring training in 2012, he soon decided to pitch again.

''I said the last time a guy like you came to spring training, made two days of coaches' meetings, went home for three days and decided he wanted to pitch again,'' Girardi said. ''I'm just curious how long you're going to make it in our meetings.''

Rivera is expected to be in camp for about 10 days,

''He has free reign to help out as much as he can,'' Girardi said. ''And I think the advice he'll give young players should be something they'll listen to.''

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I wonder if the Angels can void the rest of Hamilton's contract now.

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Principal_Raditch wrote: I wonder if the Angels can void the rest of Hamilton's contract now.

 

The union would never let a player  sign a contract that allows a team to void a player's contract for drug use.
However, the Angels wouldn't have to pay him during a suspension.

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The Toronto Blue Jays have signed left-hander Johan Santana to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, the team announced Thursday.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner hasn't pitched in the majors since 2012 due to numerous injuries, but has tremendous upside as a buy-low option.

The veteran just resumed a throwing program after his troublesome throwing shoulder forced him to sit out the championship series of the Venezuelan Winter League playoffs.

The 35-year-old's latest comeback bid in 2014 was derailed in June after he tore his Achilles in an extended spring training game. Santana also has a long history of shoulder problems.

Santana will provide organizational starter depth for Toronto, but with a strong spring, he could be a long shot to compete for the fifth and final spot in the rotation behind Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey, Drew Hutchison and Marcus Stroman.

Santana owns a 3.20 ERA with a 3.51 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 12 seasons in the bigs, but hasn't thrown 200 or more innings since 2008.

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JUPITER, Fla. - Giancarlo Stanton saw his first live pitches since his beaning back in September. The Miami Marlins will have to wait at least one more day to watch Stanton take his first swing.

While other members of his hitting group swung freely Thursday during the Miami's first live batting practice sessions of the spring, Stanton - wearing a traditional-style batting helmet - tracked all 10 pitches he saw, five from Henderson Alvarez and five from Brad Hand, into the catcher's mitt.

Stanton did, however, try on his new customized helmet, which he's expected to wear for the 2015 season. The helmet features a face guard intended to protect the left side of his face:

Yeah, @Giancarlo818 – The faceguard plays. pic.twitter.com/cn3B4Cv9Xh

— MLB (@MLB) February 26, 2015
The 25-year-old Stanton says he didn't experience any anxiety stepping into the batter's box for the first time since a Mike Fiers fastball broke his orbital bone and damaged five teeth during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers in September.

He says, ''It was just like any other spring training.''

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Shane Victorino is willing to do anything to separate himself from the logjam of outfielders in Boston.

The Boston Red Sox right fielder is attempting a return to switch-hitting this spring, he revealed to WEEI's Rob Bradford.

"Everything feels great," Victorino said about his transition back to hitting from both sides of the plate. "It's something I've been successful at and that I would like to go back to. The body feels good, and we'll go from there. It's a good thing to have in your back pocket, being able to switch-hit."

Victorino abandoned hitting from the left side in 2013 due to hamstring and thumb injuries, but he obviously knows a return to switch-hitting could make it tougher on manager John Farrell to exclude him from the lineup. Farrell has declared the right field job is Victorino's to lose, but young stud Mookie Betts is also vying for playing time.

Victorino's numbers suggest he's a superior hitter from the ride side (.865 OPS) compared to the left (.724). New hitting coach Chili Davis, who was also a switch-hitter during his playing days, is optimistic Victorino can regain his previous form.

"It's probably going to come back quicker than he thinks," Davis declared.

Victorino will have a short leash in right field as Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley Jr., Allen Craig, Daniel Nava and Betts can all play the position and will be hungry for at-bats.

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Los Angeles Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton is facing at least a 25-game suspension - but less than a full-season suspension - after a reported relapse involving cocaine and alcohol, write Fox Sports' Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal.

Major League Baseball officials are still weighing Hamilton's punishment but want to show compassion, as Hamilton until recently had abided by the terms of his 2006 reinstatement, after previous struggles with addiction and a two-year suspension.

Morosi and Rosenthal add:

Because of various complexities, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is not close to a decision. Moreover, the MLB Players Association, acting on Hamilton's behalf, would appeal any penalty it deems to be too harsh. ...

The punishment for a player's first failure to comply with a treatment program is a suspension of at least 15 but not more than 25 games. Yet, this is not Hamilton's first offense. The suspension he served while in the minor leagues —€” from Feb. 18, 2004 through June 1, 2006 — was for a succession of violations.

Additionally, MLB classifies the 2004-06 suspension as a major-league violation, because the Tampa Bay Devil Rays had placed him on their 40-man roster before it began. So, Hamilton is now a repeat offender at the major-league level even though he did not debut with the Cincinnati Reds until 2007.

The Fox journalists' sources add that Manfred is "concerned" about punishing Hamilton too harshly, but leniency won't be granted because Hamilton approached MLB officials about his relapse, since the 33-year-old may have known a failed drug test was in his future.

Hamilton, who hasn't reported to spring training due to shoulder surgery, has struggled staying sober in the past when he's been away from the game. He was expected to be out until at least Opening Day, but his future now is even more uncertain.

It's unclear whether Hamilton - who will earn $25 million this season - will have to forfeit his salary during a potential suspension.

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Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez is preparing for his final season in the majors.

Ramirez, a three-time All-Star, will likely retire following the 2015 season, he told reporters at training camp Friday. The 17-year veteran is in the option year of a three-year, $36-million contract signed in 2012. He'll make $14 million this season.

The Dominican native remains among the top performers at his position when healthy, posting the fourth-highest slugging percentage and OPS since 2012.

Ramirez began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who signed him as an amateur free agent in 1994. He spent six seasons in Pittsburgh before establishing himself as one of the game's top power-hitting third basemen with the Chicago Cubs.

Ramirez averaged 35 home runs, 105 RBIs and posted a .929 OPS with the Cubs during the most productive three-year run of his career from 2004-2006.

Ramirez, who hasn't appeared in more than 150 games since 2006, enjoyed a resurgence during his first year in Milwaukee, hitting a league-leading 50 doubles and finishing in the top 10 in NL MVP voting.

His 369 home runs rank 12th all-time among third basemen.

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lobo316 wrote: It's unclear whether Hamilton - who will earn $25 million this season - will have to forfeit his salary during a potential suspension.
As I recalled his money was backloaded. He would be missing the larger part of his contract.

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Juan Pierre, the diminutive outfielder who logged 614 stolen bases over 14 major-league seasons, announced his retirement Friday, reports Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.

Selected by the Colorado Rockies in the 13th round of the 1998 draft, Pierre spent much of his career as one of baseball's foremost leadoff hitters. Across stints with six different teams, Pierre compiled 23.2 wins above replacement with a .295 batting average while leading his league in stolen bases on three separate occasions.

Pierre, 37, also proved remarkably durable throughout his career, appearing in 162 games in every season from 2003 to 2007. Throughout that span, Pierre hit .299/.345/.375 with 289 stolen bases while helping the Florida Marlins to a World Series championship in 2003.

Pierre last appeared in the majors in 2013, when he hit .247/.284/.305 with 23 steals over 113 games with the Miami Marlins.

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Benlen wrote: lobo316 wrote: It's unclear whether Hamilton - who will earn $25 million this season - will have to forfeit his salary during a potential suspension.
As I recalled his money was backloaded. He would be missing the larger part of his contract.


We can always hope.

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Yunel Escobar is eager to find out if the grass is greener on the other side of the bag.

Escobar, who boasts over 1,000 games at shortstop, admits he was caught by surprise when the Washington Nationals traded for him this winter with the intention of switching him to second base. After expressing initial concern, Escobar said he's on board with the move to his left.

"(My) mind's clear," Escobar told reporters through an interpreter. "(I) understand and am 100 percent committed to playing second base. (I'm) willing to put all the effort and all the workload that is needed to play that position."

The 32-year-old veteran comes to Washington well-regarded for his glove work, but with just 21 career appearances at second base. Escobar says it wasn't until a meeting this week with general manager Mike Rizzo and Nationals skipper Matt Williams that he became convinced he's up for the challenge.

"I'm determined to be one of the best second basemen in the National League," Escobar told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. "After what they expressed to me and what their vision is, I feel more comfortable. I am going to play second base with an open mind."

Less than a week in at his new digs, Escobar is already impressing coaches with his footwork and athletic ability. It's got him and the Nationals excited for a double-play combo that includes All-Star Ian Desmond.

"(Desmond) is one of the best shortstops in baseball," Escobar told the James Wagner of the Washington Post. “I'm asking that people have a bit of patience with me. “I'm getting a little bit more confidence every day. It's new to me in my career. I want to do my best there."

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Melvin Upton Jr. will have to watch the rest of spring training from the dugout.

The Atlanta Braves announced Friday that a foot injury will consign the 30-year-old to a cast for the next two weeks after which Upton will wear a walking boot for four-to-six weeks. The former first-round pick could resume baseball activities in early April.

According to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Upton was diagnosed Friday with sesamoiditis (inflammation in the bone behind ball of foot) after experiencing discomfort in his left foot during his team's first full-squad workout Thursday in Orlando.

Upton, who will earn $14.45 million in 2015, hit .208/.287/.333 (75 OPS+) with 12 home runs and 173 strikeouts over 141 games last season. In his absence, the Braves will likely have Zoilo Almonte, Todd Cunningham and Eury Perez compete for playing time in center field.

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New York Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia removed a brace from his surgically-repaired right knee after tossing a 41-pitch bullpen session Friday and said he'll probably wear the brace when he pitches during the regular season, as well.

"It's nothing to worry about, just preventative," Sabathia told ESPN's Wallace Matthews from his club's spring training facility in Tampa.

Sabathia was limited to just eight starts in 2014 after tests revealed degenerative changes in his knee and prompted season-ending surgery for the 34-year-old. The portly veteran reported "no problems" after Friday's bullpen - his third of the spring - and manager Joe Girardi has no issues with Sabathia wearing a brace throughout the campaign.

"Whatever he needs to do, whatever he's comfortable doing, that's what we want him to do," Girardi said. "The fact that he's wearing a brace or not wearing a brace doesn't concern me anymore. If they feel that he'll stay healthier wearing the brace, then I would tell him, wear the brace."

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When Jose Bautista surveys the new faces around the clubhouse at the Toronto Blue Jays' spring training facility, the decorated outfielder sees a hunger that didn't exist in some of the players he used to share the field with.

"We have some guys in here now that are an uptick or two more competitive than some guys who were here in the past," Bautista told Sportsnet's Arden Zwelling on Friday.

Following rumors of clubhouse dysfunction in 2014, the Blue Jays bolstered their roster this offseason with the additions of Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson, a pair of players widely lauded for their clubhouse impact and competitive spirit. The club also parted ways with a handful of long-tenured veterans, including first baseman Adam Lind and closer Casey Janssen.

Bautista, a five-time All-Star, intimated that some of his teammates over the last few years didn't seem all that perturbed by negative results on the field.

"You walk around after a loss, a bad beating that you took, and sometimes you see people and you don't know what they're thinking," Bautista said. "I can't say that I can read minds and I can't say that I thought that guy doesn't care. But if I don't know, it makes me think."

Bautista's assessment was effectively endorsed by manager John Gibbons, who himself mentioned in late September it would behoove the club to bring in some "fresh faces."

"(Bautista) knows what's going on out there," Gibbons said. "When he speaks, there's some truth to it."

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale suffered a foot injury in an accident at his home and will miss at least three weeks of preparation time for the regular season.

Sale suffered an avulsion fracture to the lateral side of his right foot Friday at his spring training residence in Arizona, but the pitcher declined to reveal how the injury happened.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Sale landed "awkwardly when he got off the back of his truck," while unloading items.

"It was really just a freak incident," Sale said. "I've just done it a million times and this time it didn't work out so well."

The White Sox say the left-hander's status for Opening Day will be determined at a later date. Sale already was scheduled to pitch in the first game of the season, but a return on March 21 would leave him just 16 days to prepare for the season opener at Kansas City.

"We'll have to assess how much arm strength he can build up prior to the opener," Hahn said. "Due to off days early in the season, we do not need a fifth starter -- so to speak -- potentially until April 12, so that would buy you another week before going to that spot.

"But we'll see. The most important thing is that this should heal completely in three weeks and then we'll go from there."

With his foot wrapped in ice and covered by an elastic bandage, Sale remained easygoing while talking about the injury, even joking that he fought off an intruder in grand superhero fashion.

"I mean, it's essentially a sprained ankle; I'll be fine," Sale said. "They aren't going to have to cut it off. It's still here. I'll be walking on it in a few days and just doing therapy."

Sale finished third in the American league Cy Young Award voting last season, going 12-4 with a 2.17 ERA. He pitched in just 174 innings after missing time early in the season with a forearm flexor strain.

Sale has dealt with an ailment early in each of his first three seasons as a White Sox starter, referring to them as no more than hiccups. His injury last season was the only one to force him to the disabled list.

"The [actual] best-case scenario [with the foot injury] would have been October 1, but I guess it's as good as it can possibly be," Sale said. "It's early, three weeks -- worst case, maybe a touch or two longer than that. But we are still here in spring. I don't see this trickling on into the regular season at all."

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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- It isn't unusual for players to work on their stroke in spring training. But that phrase has a whole different meaning for Tampa Bay Rays reliever Ronald Belisario, who will miss the start of the season with a fractured left shoulder which he suffered getting out of a swimming pool.

The Rays' president of baseball operations, Matt Silverman, announced Saturday that Belisario would not be able to throw "for several weeks" because of the injury to his non-pitching shoulder, which occurred at his home in Venezuela before he reported to spring training.

"He said he had an accident a month ago getting out of a swimming pool," Silverman said. "And it hadn't been checked out until he got here. It's going to push him back several weeks. We don't expect him to be ready for the beginning of the season."

Belisario signed a minor-league contract with the Rays this winter, with an invitation to spring training. He had been regarded as having a strong chance to make their big-league bullpen.

The 32-year-old right-hander spent last season with the White Sox after pitching for the Dodgers from 2009-13. He served as the White Sox closer for a few weeks in May and June but pitched himself out of that role and finished with a 5.56 ERA in 62 appearances.

"He was competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster," Silverman said. "We have a number of relievers in the same situation. So the competition will be even more fierce among that group."

Manager Kevin Cash said he didn't expect the Rays to look outside their current roster for bullpen help as a result of Belisario's injury.

"At this point, I know coming in we felt very strong about the competition, about who was competing for those spots," Cash said. "So I don't see anything coming. But that could change tomorrow. We like the guys that we have in camp for sure. And we would have liked to have him ready. But we'll adjust a little bit."

Belisario left the Rays' spring-training complex after receiving treatment and was not available for comment Saturday.

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In 2011, Jose Reyes believed he was grooming Ruben Tejada to be his replacement at shortstop for the New York Mets.

Four years later, the shortstop position for the Mets remains unsettled and the current Toronto Blue Jay has been critical of Tejada's missed opportunity.

"I said, 'Man, this position is going to be yours now for a long time,'" Reyes told Anthony Rieber of Newsday. "'Do the right stuff, work hard and you're going to be here in New York. Because the talent is there. You're so young. Twenty-one years old and you play already at a high level in the big leagues. Don't let that ever go away.' And now he's in a tough position because he doesn't even have a position."

Tejada has appeared in 176 games over the past two seasons, hitting .224/.313/.291 with five home runs and 97 strikeouts.

"Something's wrong," Reyes said.

"Every time I talk to him, I try to give him some advice," Reyes said. "What can I do? I try to push him to do stuff. I don't know if he gets it or not ... You have to work, man. When you're younger, you think you have everything there for you. But if you do something wrong, it's going to go away. Quick."

The Mets spent their offseason searching for a shortstop, as they were reportedly linked to Troy Tulowitzki and Ian Desmond. However, their pursuit fell short and now the team, who has postseason aspirations, is likely to open the season with Wilmer Flores at the position.

Tejada opted to take the high road in response to his former teammate's comments.

"I don't really pay attention to too much," Tejada told Mike Vorkunov of NJ.com. "If I try to pay attention to everybody, it would make me crazy. I try to do my best and come here every day to work hard."

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With a new organization comes the possibility of a new position for Rickie Weeks.

After spending the first 11 years of his career with the Milwaukee Brewers playing second base, Weeks agreed to a one-year deal with the Seattle Mariners this offseason, and his new team has him in uncharted territory early on in spring training.

"It brought me back to high school," Weeks told Jose M. Romero of the Associated Press. "That was the last time I played outfield fully."

Weeks has exclusively been a second baseman in the majors, logging 1,044 games there since getting his feet wet as a 20-year-old in 2003. Manager Lloyd McClendon, though, is looking to use the former All-Star in a super utility role with stops at second base, third base, left field and possibly first base.

"I've watched Rickie for the last three days," McClendon said Friday. "I've been fairly impressed with the way he's moving around out there. Listen, I made the transition from catcher to (outfield). Rickie is certainly a much better athlete than I ever was. I don't see the major concern that most people see. I think he's going to adapt real easily."

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DUNEDIN, Fla. – Dayan Viciedo and the Toronto Blue Jays reached agreement on a minor-league deal that will pay the Cuban slugger $2.5 million if he makes the team, industry sources told Sportsnet.

The move, first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, adds outfield depth after the team suffered a scare with left-fielder Michael Saunders, who tore the meniscus in his left knee this week and was initially slated to miss four months, but is now expected back by mid-April.

The sides began discussing a deal after the injury, but things cooled when Saunders’ timeline was shortened. Ultimately, Viciedo decided the Blue Jays still presented a good opportunity for him.

Viciedo, a 25-year-old, right-handed hitting Cuban, will be looked at in left field, third base and first base during spring training.

Last year with the Chicago White Sox, he hit 21 home runs with 22 doubles and 58 RBIs but also struck out 122 times in 523 at-bats. In 487 career plate appearances against left-handed pitchers, he has an OPS of .837.

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) -- The most noticeable thing is the hair. Gone are the long dreadlocks that were once a Rickie Weeks staple.

He'd worn them since 2008, but said he grew tired of the hair style.

''It's just one of those things,'' Weeks said.

Weeks also made more major changes. After 12 seasons in the Milwaukee organization, he signed a one-year contract with the Seattle Mariners.

And the 32-year-old veteran won't be strictly be playing second base, his longtime position with the Brewers. The Mariners are trying him out in the outfield.

That's where Weeks, a second baseman for more than 1,000 games with the Brewers, could make his biggest contribution this season.

Weeks hasn't played outfield in the major leagues, but for the past few days he's been taking fly balls and said it comes naturally to him.

''It brought me back to high school,'' Weeks said. ''That was the last time I played outfield fully.''

Not to say Weeks won't be exclusively used in left field for the Mariners. Manager Lloyd McClendon has said that Weeks will play second base and third base, and possibly first, on occasion.

That makes Weeks the Mariners' second utility player expected to be on the opening day roster, along with Willie Bloomquist. Weeks could also find himself sharing playing time with Dustin Ackley in left field.

''The first week, outfield, and then maybe work myself back to infield the second week,'' Weeks said of his plan for spring training.

McClendon likes what he's seen so far.

''I've watched Rickie for the last three days,'' McClendon said Friday. ''I've been fairly impressed with the way he's moving around out there. Listen, I made the transition from catcher to (outfield). Rickie is certainly a much better athlete than I ever was. I don't see the major concern that most people see. I think he's going to adapt real easily.''

After an All-Star season in 2011, Weeks' numbers slipped to a .230 batting average in 2012 and .209 in 2013. The Brewers opted for a platoon at second base with Weeks and Scooter Gennett.

Weeks ended up with about 200 fewer at-bats then Gennett in 2014. Weeks hit .274 with eight homers and 29 RBIs in 121 games.

A hamstring injury had cost him the last two months of the 2013 season. Following the 2014 season, the Brewers decided to move on, declining his contract option for this year.

There were no takers for Weeks, though, until the Mariners and general manager Jack Zduriencik signed him for a year and $2 million. Zduriencik and Weeks go back a long way - Zduriencik approved the drafting and signing of Weeks while serving as the Brewers' director of scouting in 2003.

After years of reporting to Brewers' camp in the nearby Maryvale neighborhood of Phoenix, Weeks said there isn't much difference switching facilities.

''When you show up somewhere, you just do it,'' Weeks said. ''I don't have any regrets, or how is it here compared to there. I don't go through anything like that.''

Weeks compared his first Mariners workout earlier this week to a first day of school.

''New teacher, new guys in the clubhouse,'' he said. ''You're trying to learn names. That's probably the hardest part.''

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The Los Angeles Angels may catch a break with the potential suspension of Josh Hamilton following his drug relapse.

Hamilton would begin serving his suspension regardless of whether he would've started the season on the disabled list, reports MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez.

The outfielder was already projected to miss at least the first month of the regular season as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery. Major League Baseball has yet to announce a punishment for the troubled veteran, and is not going to rush to a conclusion. However, if MLB decides to hand down a 25-game suspension, Hamilton may not miss any additional games as he can serve the penalty while on the disabled list.

The Angels do not have to pay Hamilton while he's suspended and could save $125,683.06 for every day he's banned. A 50-game suspension could save the Halos roughly $6.3 million.

Hamilton's drug and alcohol problems resulted in a previous hiatus from baseball from 2003-2006.

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Oakland Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp will have his season disrupted due to a bout with conjunctivitis (pinkeye) for the second time in three years.

Crisp was sent home from camp Friday and is expected to miss a few more days.

"We're hoping we've caught it early," manager Bob Melvin told John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group. "He came in with it yesterday and we've got him at home now hoping this resolves itself quickly."

Crisp, whose had trouble staying healthy his entire career, missed five games in September 2012 with the same ailment.

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The Colorado Rockies selected the contract on right-hander John Axford on Sunday.

Axford agreed to a minor-league deal earlier this month, but is set to earn $2.6 milliion this season following his addition to the Rockies' 40-man roster.

The soon-to-be 32-year-old recorded 46 saves for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011, but has struggled with consistency over the past three seasons in stops with three different organizations.

Axford made 62 appearances last season split between the Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates, posting a 3.95 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings.

In a corresponding move, the Rockies placed right-hander Tyler Chatwood on the 60-day disabled list.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers will entertain another veteran reliever in camp after reportedly agreeing to a minor-league deal with right-hander Mike Adams.

Adams was limited to 22 appearances last season with the Philadelphia Phillies, as a shoulder injury cost him two and a half months of the season. In 18 2/3 innings, the 36-year-old posted a 2.89 ERA and 21 strikeouts while holding right-handers to a .176 average.

The 10-year veteran has had trouble staying healthy in recent years but has been effective when on the mound. Since 2011, Adams owns a 2.55 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 169 2/3 innings.

"We just look at it as high-upside," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. "When this guy has been healthy, he's really, really good. We'll get a chance to take a look at him at camp, see what he looks like and go from there."

The Dodgers will have no shortage of arms competing for a roster spot this spring, with David Aardsma, Erik Bedard, Chad Gaudin, David Huff and Sergio Santos all on minor-league deals.

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Another player with a freak injury.



Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Corey Hart has battled knee injuries over the past few seasons, but Sunday's injury probably was a first.

According to multiple reports, the 32-year-old Hart injured his foot on a hot tub at the team's spring training complex. Manager Clint Hurdle said Hart needed three stitches and he will sidelined for a few days.

Hart, who turns 33 later this month, signed a one-year deal worth $2.5 million to back up Pedro Alvarez at first base. He was with the Seattle Mariners last season after spending the first nine seasons of his career with the Milwaukee Brewers.

But surgery on both knees forced him to miss the entire 2013 season.

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Tony Gwynn Jr. will have a shot at remaining in the National League East as the outfielder agreed to a minor-league deal with the Washington Nationals.

"So happy and grateful for the opportunity to continue to play the game I love," Gwynn posted on his Twitter account.

The 32-year-old spent last season as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, posting a disappointing .152/.264/.190 line with a pair of doubles and three stolen bases in 105 at-bats across 80 games.

He has appeared in all three outfield positions during his eight-year career, but spent the majority of time in center field.

The left-handed hitter owns a career .238/.309/.310 line with seven home runs and 80 stolen bases in 685 games.

Gwynn's opportunity to land a spot on the Nationals' roster likely depends on the health of outfielders Nate McLouth and Jayson Werth, who are both dealing with injuries but are expected to be ready for Opening Day.

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Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard finally broke his self-imposed silence this spring, telling reporters Tuesday that he lost 15-20 pounds after dropping sugar from his diet during the offseason.

Howard, who's owed $60 million over the next three seasons, found himself the subject of persistent trade rumors this winter and is now competing to keep his spot in the starting lineup. For his part, the beleaguered slugger insists he's just happy to get back onto the field.

"It's good, you get the nerves out, get game situations," Howard told reporters after going 2-for-2 with a game-tying RBI his first game of the spring Tuesday. "There's always nerves. There's always nerves. It felt good just getting into a game situation, and go from there.

Howard, who hit 23 homers but posted a career-low .690 OPS in 2014, said he's made adjustments to his approach this season, including standing taller in the box and tweaking the placement of his hands. He added that his trimmed-down physique is already having a positive effect at the plate.

"It's definitely a great feeling," Howard said. "I'm confident in my ability, now it's getting the reps, getting the work in the game type situation and putting it all together."

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TAMPA, Fla. - The New York Yankees say they have fired a part-time ticker seller accused by Curt Schilling of making offensive comments on Twitter about the daughter of the former Boston pitcher.

Schilling congratulated his daughter on Twitter last week after she was accepted into Salve Regina University, where she'll play softball next year. Multiple people posted vulgar and sexually explicit comments about her.

Schilling wrote on his blog Sunday that he was astounded by the ignorance and lack of morals. He reposted tweets and identified some of the people responsible, pointing them out to employers and other organizations he believed they are affiliated with.

Yankees spokesman Jason Zillo said said Tuesday the team has ''zero tolerance for anything like this. We've terminated him.''

The Twitter account linked to the former Yankees employee has been deactivated.

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Jimmy Rollins will be setting the table for the Los Angeles Dodgers offense this season.

"That's the one guy that I think that we are pretty sure about," manager Don Mattingly told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. "Jimmy's really kind of that leadoff guy."

Acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies this offseason, Rollins will move into his more comfortable slot in the batting order after spending the majority of last season in the two-hole.

"It feels like the game starts later for you," Rollins said of hitting second. "I was accustomed to being the leadoff hitter, where you're thrown into the fire. I just like that feeling of having to go out there and lead the way.

"So to be back there, as of now, you feel like you're that fire-starter again, like you'll be that sparkplug that gets things going."

Part of the reason as to why Rollins has over 6,000 at-bats hitting from the leadoff position is because of his speed, and while the 36-year-old understands his days of stealing 40-plus bags are behind him, he still feels his legs will play a major role in his game this season.

"I was disappointed with 28 bases (last season), but it's what it was," Rollins said. "I always set a goal. It used to be that 30 was the minimum. Now, I've kind of cut that back to 25 with aspirations to get to 30."

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Joel Hanrahan spent the last 21 months trying to claw his way back to the major leagues following Tommy John surgery that halted his career during the nascent stages of the 2013 campaign.

The 33-year-old reliever learned this week, however, that his efforts were for naught.

Hanrahan left spring training with the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday to meet with Dr. Keith Meister, a Texas-based orthopedist, who determined the two-time All-Star would require a second Tommy John surgery, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck. The veteran was compelled to see Meister after lingering soreness in his surgically-repaired right elbow hampered his throwing in camp for more than a week.

Despite failing to appear in a game last season after inking a one-year deal with the Tigers in May, Hanrahan received a minor-league deal with Detroit in November that included an invitation to spring training. Hanrahan is scheduled to undergo surgery March 18 and was released by the Tigers on Tuesday.

Hanrahan's future in baseball remains decidedly uncertain following this week's diagnosis, as his absence from the major leagues will now extend at least one more full season. His last stint in the big leagues came in May 2013, when he stumbled to a 9.82 ERA over nine appearances for the Boston Red Sox before undergoing surgery.

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After more than a decade patrolling center field in the major leagues, Coco Crisp will try to adjust to a different position this spring.

Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin told reporters Wednesday that the club will try the 35-year-old in left field in an effort to keep him on the field this season. Although Crisp had some questions when Melvin first approached him earlier this spring about the possibility of changing positions, the veteran outfielder is willing to give it a try.

"There's also a pride factor involved for a guy who is one of the premier center fielders," Melvin added.

Crisp hasn't logged more than 136 games in a season since 2007, battling myriad injuries - both minor and major - that precipitated five trips to the disabled list in the last six years.

Melvin said the decision to try Crisp in left field was aided by the presence of both Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry, two players with considerable experience playing center. Through 13 seasons in the majors, Crisp has managed 27 defensive runs saved over 1,982 innings (218 starts) in left field, though he hasn't played the position since 2012.

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy will no longer address his religious beliefs and will stick to baseball, a team spokesman said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, MLB ambassador for inclusion Billy Bean addressed Mets players after general manager Sandy Alderson invited him. Murphy subsequently told media that day that while he would embrace Bean as a teammate, he does not approve of his homosexuality. Bean concealed his sexual orientation during his playing career and later said that he was gay.

"I disagree with his lifestyle," Murphy told NJ.com on Tuesday. "I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn't mean I can't still invest in him and get to know him. I don't think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them, but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent."

Bean responded to Murphy's comments, writing Wednesday in a story for MLB.com that he has "tremendous admiration and respect for Daniel Murphy as a family man," referencing the second baseman's decision to miss Opening Day last year for his son's birth, a decision that made him the target of criticism by the New York media.

Bean wrote that expecting his message of inclusion to be supported by everyone "is simply not realistic."

"If you asked anyone who has competed in high-level men's professional sports, I believe they would agree with me. This doesn't change the way I go about my business, or my belief in what I am doing, but it's reality," he wrote.

Murphy added to the newspaper: "Maybe, as a Christian ... we haven't been as articulate enough in describing what our actual stance is on homosexuality. We love the people. We disagree [with] the lifestyle. That's the way I would describe it for me.

"It's the same way that there are aspects of my life that I'm trying to surrender to Christ in my own life. There's a great deal of many things, like my pride. I just think that as a believer trying to articulate it in a way that says just because I disagree with the lifestyle doesn't mean I'm just never going to speak to Billy Bean every time he walks through the door. That's not love. That's not love at all."

Asked early Tuesday about how his message is received by players who object on religious grounds, Bean said: "What's important is that if we have one or two people on a team that we might have exposed them to something they hadn't thought about before. I'm not here to change anybody or tell them that they're wrong. This is our country. We're allowed to be who and what we want.

"But I think the important thing is understanding the big picture -- that if you are a player on the Mets or in a big league uniform, there's a huge responsibility that goes with that. And I think they can understand that regardless of what their personal opinion is of me. I can't be everybody's best friend."

The Mets have dealt with players' religious beliefs conflicting with the viewpoint of a portion of their fan base before. In 2012, right-hander Jeremy Hefner tweeted his support for the chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A's stance against gay marriage.

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An arbitrator will reportedly decide the fate of Josh Hamilton after a four-person panel failed to agree on how to proceed with the player's relapse of substance abuse.

MLB officials are also considering whether to classify Hamilton as a fourth-time offender, which would result in at least a one-year suspension, according to Mike Digiovanna and Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.

The panel, which consists of two attorneys and two physicians, was to determine whether Hamilton violated the league's drug policy and if he should enter a rehabilitation program. After reaching a split decision, the Times has learned an arbitrator will join the committee in an effort to break the tie.

Related: Hamilton's potential suspension can coincide with DL

The Los Angeles Angels outfielder met with MLB officials in New York last week after a reported relapse involving cocaine and alcohol.

Hamilton has battled with addiction throughout his career, resulting in a three-year suspension as a minor leaguer in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. The five-time All-Star overcame his struggles to win the 2010 AL MVP as a member of the Texas Rangers, but suffered alcohol relapses in 2009 and 2012.

It remains unclear whether Hamilton's previous indiscretions will be factored into any potential discipline.

From the Times:

Violators face a range of penalties, starting at 15 to 25 games for a first offense, 25 to 50 games for a second offense, 50 to 75 games for a third offense and at least one full season for a fourth offense. Commissioner Rob Manfred would have the final say on the length of a suspension.

The 33-year-old has remained in Houston this winter recovering from shoulder surgery. He was expected to miss at least six weeks of the regular season.

Hamilton, who is owed $25 million in 2015, is entering the third season of a five-year, $125-million deal with the Angels. He would not be entitled to payment if he's suspended.

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Oakland Athletics right-hander Pat Venditte retired the only batter he faced Tuesday in his Cactus League debut, inducing an inning-ending groundout from Justin Maxwell of the San Francisco Giants to end the third frame.

Shortly thereafter, Oakland Athletics left-hander Pat Venditte took the mound and did his job with similar aplomb, striking out first baseman Brandon Belt before being replaced.

Vying this spring for a job in the Athletics' bullpen, the ambidextrous anomaly made a favorable impression against the Giants on Tuesday, though his unique talents caught teammate Ben Zobrist momentarily off guard.

"I didn't realize it was him when he started throwing, so it kind of tripped me out there for a second," Zobrist told MLB.com's Jane Lee. "Obviously he does it well. It's not like he's weaker from one side than the other. Obviously he's able to throw all of his pitches and spot up from both sides. It's really fun to watch. It's an anomaly for sure."

Venditte, a natural right-hander, hasn't thrown a pitch in the major leagues since being selected by the New York Yankees in the 20th round of the 2008 draft. The 29-year-old could find a home in Oakland, where his ability to capitalize on platoon advantages could appeal to a team with an acute eye for marginal competitive gains.

"Any time you get to a new team and begin a new season," Venditte said, "you want to start out on a good note, and I felt I was able to do that today."

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Rusney Castillo downplayed the seriousness of an injury while speaking to reporters Wednesday.

The Boston Red Sox outfielder is out indefinitely with a strained left oblique, manager John Farrell announced.

"He's going to be down for some time," Farrell told ESPN's Gordon Edes. "I don't have a time frame to give you or a projected length, but he's going through some treatment to calm down the strain right now, and he'll do rotational exercises and rehab when he's ready for it."

Castillo said the injury wasn't serious earlier Wednesday and that he was hopeful to play Thursday. His manager and the team's medical stuff obviously don't feel the same way.

The injury opens the door for Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. to get some additional playing time in center field. Betts could displace Castillo as the starting center fielder with a strong spring, or bump Shane Victorino from right field. Betts can also play second base, but veteran Dustin Pedroia has a firm grasp on the position.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers are so determined to move outfielder Andre Ethier, they're reportedly willing to pay a competitor to take him.

Sources tell Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that the Dodgers are willing to absorb close to half of the $56 million remaining on Ethier's contract in any potential trade.

Ethier's slated to earn $18 million in each of the next two seasons, followed by a salary of $17.5 million in 2017. His $17.5 million vesting option for 2018 can be bought out for $2.5 million.

Despite the club's best efforts to deal Ethier this winter, the nine-year veteran arrived at camp expressing a desire to start or be traded. The former appears increasingly unlikely with the emergence of top prospect Joc Pederson, who's considered a front-runner to secure the starting center field job this spring.

Carl Crawford is also expected to join Yasiel Puig in the outfield this season.

Ethier posted a career-low .691 OPS with four homers in 380 plate appearances last season.

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A deep-rooted New York Yankees tradition may be coming to an end.

Derek Jeter could be the last Captain in the team's storied history, according to general manager Brian Cashman.

"As far as I'm concerned, and I'm not the decision maker on this, that captaincy should be retired with No. 2," Cashman said on The Mike Lupica Show on ESPN Radio on Thursday. "I wouldn't give up another captain's title to anyone else."

Jeter, who was named team Captain in June 2003, retired as the 16th Captain in team history, according to the team's media guide. His five World Series rings and 3,465 career hits make him a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame when eligible.

No official date has been set to retire Jeter's No. 2, so the debate will rage on until a ceremony is scheduled.

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The Chicago Cubs added another candidate to compete for a spot in their bullpen Thursday by agreeing to a minor-league deal with left-hander Phil Coke, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

Coke, who spent the last five seasons with the Detroit Tigers, reportedly drew offseason interest from the Texas Rangers, Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays, but proved unable to secure the guaranteed contract he was seeking.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein overhauled his team's roster dramatically this winter, but their tentative 2015 bullpen features just one left-hander: Felix Doubront. Coke, then, will likely compete with fellow non-roster invitees Francisley Bueno and Hunter Cervenka to be the second left-hander in Chicago's bullpen this season.

Coke has struggled in recent years though he managed a 3.88 ERA over 62 appearances last season. The 32-year-old posted a meager 16 percent strikeout rate over 58 innings in 2014, though, and surrendered an .871 OPS against right-handed hitters (.691 OPS vs. left-handers).

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San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence will miss the next six-to-eight weeks after suffering a non-displaced fracture in his left forearm.

The Giants feared the worst after Pence was hit by a fastball in the sixth inning of Thursday's game against the Chicago Cubs.

Pence, who was struck by Cubs pitcher Corey Black, was immediately removed from the game after appearing to take a pitch on the hands. The fracture is just above Pence's left wrist.

The remarkably durable outfielder has played all 162 games in each of the last two seasons. Pence's 383 consecutive appearance streak is the third-longest in franchise history.

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The Major League Baseball Players Association is throwing its support behind embattled slugger Josh Hamilton.

The union issued a statement Thursday regarding the firestorm of news leaks that have emerged following Hamilton's latest relapse, which allegedly involved cocaine and alcohol.

Multiple reports claim that officials are considering whether to classify the Los Angeles Angels outfielder as a fourth-time offender under the league's drug policy, a designation that could result in a one-year suspension.

"It is regrettable that people who want to see Josh Hamilton hurt personally and professionally have started leaking information about the status of his treatment program and the confidential processes under our Joint Drug Agreement," the statement read, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. "These anonymous leaks are cowardly, undermine the integrity of our collectively bargained agreements and in some instances have been wholly inaccurate."

The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that an arbitrator will decide whether Hamilton should enter a rehab program after a four-person panel failed to reach an agreement on a course of treatment.

Hamilton, who's currently recovering from shoulder surgery, could also face punishment if MLB officials decide he violated terms of the drug policy.

The MLBPA ended its statement by reiterating its support for Hamilton, who has battled addiction throughout his career.

"The Major League Baseball Players Association will use every right we have under the collective bargaining agreement to make sure Josh gets the help he needs, and the fair and confidential process to which he is entitled.”

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lobo316 wrote: The Major League Baseball Players Association is throwing its support behind embattled slugger Josh Hamilton.

The union issued a statement Thursday regarding the firestorm of news leaks that have emerged following Hamilton's latest relapse, which allegedly involved cocaine and alcohol.

Multiple reports claim that officials are considering whether to classify the Los Angeles Angels outfielder as a fourth-time offender under the league's drug policy, a designation that could result in a one-year suspension.

"It is regrettable that people who want to see Josh Hamilton hurt personally and professionally have started leaking information about the status of his treatment program and the confidential processes under our Joint Drug Agreement," the statement read, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. "These anonymous leaks are cowardly, undermine the integrity of our collectively bargained agreements and in some instances have been wholly inaccurate."

The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that an arbitrator will decide whether Hamilton should enter a rehab program after a four-person panel failed to reach an agreement on a course of treatment.

Hamilton, who's currently recovering from shoulder surgery, could also face punishment if MLB officials decide he violated terms of the drug policy.

The MLBPA ended its statement by reiterating its support for Hamilton, who has battled addiction throughout his career.

"The Major League Baseball Players Association will use every right we have under the collective bargaining agreement to make sure Josh gets the help he needs, and the fair and confidential process to which he is entitled.”

Where were they when Steve Howe was basically run out of the league on a rail?  It's not like Hamilton is the first guy to battle drug problems repeatedly.  He's just one of the most high-profile. 

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lobo316 wrote: A deep-rooted New York Yankees tradition may be coming to an end.

Derek Jeter could be the last Captain in the team's storied history, according to general manager Brian Cashman.

"As far as I'm concerned, and I'm not the decision maker on this, that captaincy should be retired with No. 2," Cashman said on The Mike Lupica Show on ESPN Radio on Thursday. "I wouldn't give up another captain's title to anyone else."

Jeter, who was named team Captain in June 2003, retired as the 16th Captain in team history, according to the team's media guide. His five World Series rings and 3,465 career hits make him a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame when eligible.

No official date has been set to retire Jeter's No. 2, so the debate will rage on until a ceremony is scheduled.

That's ridiculous.  Clearly there is no current player who should be named captain and the title should be vacant for a few years, but someone else will come along who deserves it.  It will happen organically when the time is right.  The captaincy was vacant for nearly 40 years after Gehrig, so suffice it to say there's no rush.  Between Mattingly and Jeter, it was vacant for almost a decade.  But to say it should be retired with Jeter is bullshit, and Cashamn shouldn't be around too much longer to have any say in the matter anyway. 

Last edited on Fri Mar 6th, 2015 07:26 pm by srossi

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The Texas Rangers are hoping they don't lose their ace for a significant period of time.

Yu Darvish will undergo an MRI on Friday, just one day after being removed from his first spring start due to right triceps tightness, reports MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez.

Darvish reported feeling much better Friday after throwing just 12 pitches over an inning of work the previous day. The team said his exit was precautionary.

Darvish said he feels much better this morning. Had a massage treatment. Still hasn't seen Dr. Meister yet though

— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) March 6, 2015
Darvish, who went 10-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 22 starts last season, was shut down at the end of the campaign due to right elbow inflammation.

The results of the MRI should be announced Saturday.

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The Kansas City Royals have signed first baseman Casey Kotchman to a minor-league contract, according to Baseball America's Matt Eddy.

The 32-year-old didn't play in 2014 after an injury-plagued 2013 campaign with the Miami Marlins.

Kotchman is a career .260 hitter with 71 home runs and 388 RBIs in 939 big-league games.

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The Texas Rangers added some bullpen depth Friday.

The club signed left-hander Joe Beimel to a one-year, major-league contract, according to ESPN Dallas.

If Beimel does make the #Rangers, salary goes to $1.5 million with ability to earn more in incentives.

— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) March 6, 2015
Beimel, 37, went 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 56 appearances for the Seattle Mariners last season in his return from Tommy John surgery.

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The Kansas City Royals may be short a left-handed reliever for the 2015 season after receiving some bad news Friday.

An MRI on Tim Collins, who was injured in his first Cactus League outing Wednesday, revealed ligament damage in his throwing elbow, reports MLB.com's Jeffrey Flanagan. He is seeking a second opinion before opting for surgery.

Collins posted an 0-3 record with a 3.86 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 22 appearances for the Royals.

The injury means fellow lefty Brandon Finnegan could play a bigger role out of the bullpen moving forward.

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Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz firmly believes when you've been around the league as long as he has, you've earned the right to add a little more flare to your home run celebration. 

"The way that works, basically, is how much time you have at this level," Ortiz told Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald. "If you've got two days in the big leagues, I don't agree with you doing crazy stuff out there. But you have 19 years in the big leagues like I do, you can do whatever the hell you want - because you’ve earned that."

A veteran of over 2,100 major-league games and sitting 34 home runs away from the elusive 500 mark, Ortiz thinks the fans come to the park expecting a little showmanship. 

"The bottom line is, it's not that bad," Ortiz said. "It's part of what people come and want to see. People want to come to the field, and the power hitters, they want to watch them hit homers."

Ortiz has drawn the ire of a number of pitchers over his career, but arguably none more so than Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Chris Archerlast July. 

''I never saw Hank Aaron flip his bat,'' Archer said following the game. ''I'm not comparing the two, but they're obviously in the same class of players as far what they accomplished.''

While opposing pitchers may hate Ortiz's theatrics, one of his own has no problem with it. 

"If you've earned the right to pimp a home run, you can pimp a home run," right-hander Clay Buchholz said. "And David Ortiz has earned the right to pimp a home run if he wants to."

Last edited on Sat Mar 7th, 2015 07:50 am by lobo316

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Maybe Price is gay.



New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy is considered day-to-day after getting hit by a pitch in the second inning of Friday's exhibition game against the Detroit Tigers.

Murphy was struck by the David Price fastball on the top of his right hand and initially stayed in the game before exiting at the end of the inning. The Mets are calling the injury a right hand contusion, but will release an official diagnosis after Murphy undergoes X-rays.

Murphy's found himself embroiled in a firestorm of controversy this spring after commenting on MLB ambassador of inclusion Billy Bean's visit to the team's training camp this week.

The Mets and Murphy avoided arbitration this winter by agreeing on a one-year, $8-million deal. He's set to hit free agency at the end of the 2015 season.

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lobo316 wrote: The Texas Rangers are hoping they don't lose their ace for a significant period of time.

Yu Darvish will undergo an MRI on Friday, just one day after being removed from his first spring start due to right triceps tightness, reports MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez.

Darvish reported feeling much better Friday after throwing just 12 pitches over an inning of work the previous day. The team said his exit was precautionary.

Darvish said he feels much better this morning. Had a massage treatment. Still hasn't seen Dr. Meister yet though

— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) March 6, 2015
Darvish, who went 10-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 22 starts last season, was shut down at the end of the campaign due to right elbow inflammation.

The results of the MRI should be announced Saturday.


 

 

 

The Texas Rangers received some potentially disastrous injury news Saturday.

An MRI on staff ace Yu Darvish's pitching elbow revealed a sprained UCL, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.

Darvish issued the following statement regarding the devastating news:

"I will be disappointed if I have to miss the season but want to look at all options, including getting a second opinion."

General manager Jon Daniels also addressed the situation:



Jon Daniels says 3 options for Darvish: 1) pitch thru it "not a good option" 2) rest/rehab "which we did in fall" 3) Tommy John surgery
— Bill Jones (@CBS11BillJones) March 7, 2015
Daniels projects Darvish would be out for at least four months even if he elects to forego season-ending Tommy John surgery and rehab the injury. Darvish will visit New York-based specialist Dr. David Altchek on Tuesday for a second opinion.

Darvish was shut down at the end of last season due to elbow inflammation, and left his first spring start this week after 12 pitches and only one inning of work due to right triceps tightness.

The Rangers, who previously had in-depth talks with the Philadelphia Phillies about acquiring lefty Cole Hamels, may now be more aggressive in their pursuit with the news of the Darvish injury. New York Mets right-hander Dillon Gee could also be another trade target, according to ESPN's Adam Rubin.

Darvish, who isn't slated to become a free agent until 2018 and is owed $31 million by the Rangers, went 10-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 22 starts last season.

The Rangers pitching staff was devastated by injuries a year ago, which led to a miserable 67-95 campaign.

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale suffered a foot injury in an accident at his home and will miss at least three weeks of preparation time for the regular season.

Sale suffered an avulsion fracture to the lateral side of his right foot Friday at his spring training residence in Arizona, but the pitcher declined to reveal how the injury happened.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Sale landed "awkwardly when he got off the back of his truck," while unloading items.

"It was really just a freak incident," Sale said. "I've just done it a million times and this time it didn't work out so well."

The White Sox say the left-hander's status for Opening Day will be determined at a later date. Sale already was scheduled to pitch in the first game of the season, but a return on March 21 would leave him just 16 days to prepare for the season opener at Kansas City.

"We'll have to assess how much arm strength he can build up prior to the opener," Hahn said. "Due to off days early in the season, we do not need a fifth starter -- so to speak -- potentially until April 12, so that would buy you another week before going to that spot.

"But we'll see. The most important thing is that this should heal completely in three weeks and then we'll go from there."

With his foot wrapped in ice and covered by an elastic bandage, Sale remained easygoing while talking about the injury, even joking that he fought off an intruder in grand superhero fashion.

"I mean, it's essentially a sprained ankle; I'll be fine," Sale said. "They aren't going to have to cut it off. It's still here. I'll be walking on it in a few days and just doing therapy."

Sale finished third in the American league Cy Young Award voting last season, going 12-4 with a 2.17 ERA. He pitched in just 174 innings after missing time early in the season with a forearm flexor strain.

Sale has dealt with an ailment early in each of his first three seasons as a White Sox starter, referring to them as no more than hiccups. His injury last season was the only one to force him to the disabled list.

"The [actual] best-case scenario [with the foot injury] would have been October 1, but I guess it's as good as it can possibly be," Sale said. "It's early, three weeks -- worst case, maybe a touch or two longer than that. But we are still here in spring. I don't see this trickling on into the regular season at all."


 

 

 

Chris Sale is dealing with not one injury, but two.

The Chicago White Sox left-hander has an ankle sprain in addition to an avulsion fracture in his right foot, according to David Just of the Chicago Sun-Times.

The injury isn't expected to tack on any additional time to his initial three-week timeline for a return to action, however. 

Sale, who finished third in AL Cy Young Award voting last season, is doing his best to keep his upper body in shape by throwing from his knees. He reports his arm is fine and is shooting to be ready for Opening Day.

Top prospect Carlos Rodon has assumed Sale's spot in the spring rotation for the time being.

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Don't expect Josh Reddick to be in the Opening Day lineup.

The Oakland Athletics outfielder is expected to miss four-to-six weeks with a right oblique strain, reports John Hickey of the Oakland Tribune.

Manager Bob Melvin said Reddick will be completely shut down for two weeks before attempting to resume baseball activities.

"You have to start from zero again," Melvin noted. "I would think Opening Day would be a stretch, but he has been a quicker healer."

Reddick, who hit .264 with 12 homers and 54 RBIs in 109 games last season, suffered the injury while participating in defensive drills in the outfield Friday.

Melvin is contemplating moving first baseman Ike Davis to right field to replace Reddick.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. - The Kansas City Royals added depth to their starting rotation Saturday by signing veteran right-hander Chris Young to an incentive-laden, one-year contract.

Young will make $675,000 in base salary, but he's eligible for $1 million in roster bonuses based on active dads on the roster. He is also eligible for $1.975 million in bonuses for innings pitched, and $2.35 million in bonuses for games pitched.

The 35-year-old Young was 12-9 with a 3.65 ERA for the Mariners last season. He was voted the American League's comeback player of the year after missing most of the previous season because of surgery to correct a nerve issue in his neck and shoulder.

The Royals' five-man starting rotation is largely set with Yordano Ventura, Edinson Volquez, Danny Duffy, Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas.

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Colby Rasmus sometimes doesn't have fun playing baseball anymore.

The outfielder, who inked a one-year, $8-million contract with the Houston Astros this winter, wants to play this season, and three more before calling it a career. He's looking forward to retiring and spending time with his family at his newly purchased cattle ranch in Alabama.

“I’m getting a little older now,” the 28-year-old told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I’ve been taking a beating on this body. I’m a lot older than I used to be. Playing on that turf in Toronto was pretty tough. It has a nice slab of concrete underneath and I was diving on it. I didn’t baby myself and take it easy.

“It’s a tough game. A lot of stuff goes on. I haven’t got much more in me.”

Rasmus played for the Toronto Blue Jays for three-plus seasons - but not by choice - after being dealt by the St. Louis Cardinals as part of a multi-player deal prior to the trade deadline in 2011. Rasmus posted solid numbers in his first two years north of the border, but his average dipped to .225 as he battled a hamstring problem for much of last year.

Rasmus will be a free agent in 2016, and has been ripped by former teammates for not being the most pleasant player in the clubhouse. Regardless of his past, the Astros are hoping Rasmus can provide leadership to their young squad this year.

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The closer battle in Toronto is officially on.

Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil will be held out of action for 10 days after an MRI revealed inflammation in this throwing shoulder, reports Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star.

Manager John Gibbons responded to the news by suggesting he may need to re-think how righty Aaron Sanchez is used this season. The 22-year-old could start, come out of the bullpen, or even as the team's closer if Cecil encounters an injury setback.

Cecil, who's considered the front-runner to close games for Toronto, had his scheduled appearance Friday called off as a result of the shoulder soreness.

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lobo316 wrote: Colby Rasmus sometimes doesn't have fun playing baseball anymore.

The outfielder, who inked a one-year, $8-million contract with the Houston Astros this winter, wants to play this season, and three more before calling it a career. He's looking forward to retiring and spending time with his family at his newly purchased cattle ranch in Alabama.

“I’m getting a little older now,” the 28-year-old told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I’ve been taking a beating on this body. I’m a lot older than I used to be. Playing on that turf in Toronto was pretty tough. It has a nice slab of concrete underneath and I was diving on it. I didn’t baby myself and take it easy.

“It’s a tough game. A lot of stuff goes on. I haven’t got much more in me.”

Rasmus played for the Toronto Blue Jays for three-plus seasons - but not by choice - after being dealt by the St. Louis Cardinals as part of a multi-player deal prior to the trade deadline in 2011. Rasmus posted solid numbers in his first two years north of the border, but his average dipped to .225 as he battled a hamstring problem for much of last year.

Rasmus will be a free agent in 2016, and has been ripped by former teammates for not being the most pleasant player in the clubhouse. Regardless of his past, the Astros are hoping Rasmus can provide leadership to their young squad this year.
Lot of talent that is trumped by a 10 cent head.

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A new, deep-pocketed suitor has emerged for Cole Hamels' services.

The New York Yankees have come the closest to pulling off a trade for the Philadelphia Phillies left-hander, reports The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has offered a package of prospects - which is what Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has been seeking - to at least set the framework for a potential deal.

Also, Amaro said one team has "stepped up" its pursuit of Hamels. In last couple days, he said.

— Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) March 8, 2015
There's no word on which Yankees prospects have been discussed. The top-five prospects in the New York farm system, according to MLB.com, include: right-hander Luis Severino, catcher Gary Sanchez, third baseman Eric Jagielo, lefty Ian Clarkin and outfielder Aaron Judge. Infielder Robert Refsnyder, the team's sixth-ranked prospect, could also be a player of interest if the Phillies end up moving veteran second baseman Chase Utley.

The Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers have also been linked to Hamels, who has four years remaining on his current contract and is owed $94 million.

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The Philadelphia Phillies have temporarily shut down Cliff Lee after the veteran left-hander felt renewed discomfort in his pitching elbow.

The Phillies announced Sunday that Lee, who started only 13 games last season due to an elbow strain, underwent an MRI on Friday.

The exam did not indicate any ligament damage, but the Phillies have decided to scratch Lee from his next scheduled spring start Tuesday. The former Cy Young Award winner is expected to resume throwing Monday, although the team stated that his throwing program will progress "as tolerated."

"Any time it's the elbow, you have to be concerned," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters. "We have to be concerned because it's the area he felt something before.

"We don't think it's acute, but we have to be cautious."

The Phillies also have sent the MRI results to renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion. Andrews is expected to review the results either Monday or Tuesday.

Lee, 36, went 4-5 with a 3.65 ERA last year after pitching at least 200 innings in eight of the previous nine seasons. The four-time All-Star made his spring training debut last Thursday, allowing two hits in two innings.

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If the Yankees do that deal and trade a bunch of prospects for Hamels, I am done until the Steins sell the team.

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Washington Nationals outfielder Denard Span will be sidelined after undergoing surgery to repair a right core muscle injury on Monday.

The Nationals have yet to release a timetable for his return.

It's the second surgery in four months for the 30-year-old, who underwent a procedure to repair a sports hernia in December.

Span was exceptional last season for the Nationals, hitting .302/.355/.416 with a career-high 184 hits and 31 stolen bases in 147 games.

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HBF wrote: If the Yankees do that deal and trade a bunch of prospects for Hamels, I am done until the Steins sell the team.
I wish they'd blow up this team and we'd finish last for the next 3 years while replenishing the farm system, but that's just not realistic.  They're going to keep doing things like this, with or without Cashman as GM.  But I would take 3 years of being awful while rebuilding over 12 more years of mediocrity where we squeeze into the playoffs or barely miss it but there's never a real sense that we can win it all. 

Last edited on Mon Mar 9th, 2015 05:25 pm by srossi

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An altercation with his wife allegedly fueled Los Angeles Angels star Josh Hamilton's drug relapse.

Hamilton reportedly got into a fight with his wife around Super Bowl weekend in late January, early February, which set off a chain of events that ended with the 2010 American League MVP using cocaine at a strip club, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

The Angels outfielder, who is not allowed to carry money or credit cards on him because of his drug addiction, wrote himself a check to cash before using the stimulant, Passan noted.

Hamilton met with Major League Baseball officials in New York City shortly after admitting to his relapse and prior to his next scheduled drug test. His fate now reportedly rests in an arbitrator's hands, and he could potentially face a severe suspension if he's found to violate his treatment program.

The 33-year-old must undergo three drug tests per week for past infractions, for which he served three suspensions and a three-year ban from the sport.

Hamilton, recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, is entering the third year of a five-year pact he signed with the Angels in December 2012.

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Toronto Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion will be out for upward of a week after an MRI revealed inflammation in his lower right back.

Encarnacion felt tightness in his back and opted to get it checked out for precautionary reasons. He didn't play in any of the team's split-squad games Monday.

"It's something I want to make sure is right and I want to make sure before I continue," he said.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Encarnacion will rest for four of five days, and he expects him to miss a week or so.

Encarnacion has missed time in the past - including last season - with minor back issues, but never anything serious enough to warrant a stint on the disabled list.

The 32-year-old hit .268/.354/.547 with 34 homers and 98 RBIs a season ago, and was rewarded with his second consecutive All-Star appearance.

Encarnacion is under contract for $10 million this season, and Toronto holds a $10-million option on him, with a $2-million buyout, for 2016.

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Gavin Floyd has been dealt another blow.

The oft-injured Cleveland Indians right-hander suffered a stress fracture in his right elbow and is out indefinitely.

It's the same injury that forced Floyd to undergo season-ending surgery in 2014 while he was a member of the Atlanta Braves after he was diagnosed with an olecranon fracture in his elbow.

The Indians said they're exploring treatment options and that surgery hasn't been ruled out. Either way, Indians manager Terry Francona confirmed the obvious.

"Safe to say he's going to miss a significant amount of time," Francona told reporters Tuesday.

Floyd rebounded from 2013 Tommy John surgery to pitch to a 2.65 ERA over nine starts with the Braves last season before going on the shelf. He's been limited to 78 2/3 innings the last two seasons after proving to be a durable arm over a five-year span with the Chicago White Sox from 2008-12, averaging just shy of 190 frames per season.

The Indians signed Floyd to a one-year, $4-million deal in the offseason. He was expected to assume a spot in the team's starting rotation.

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New York Mets left-hander Josh Edgin will undergo an MRI on Tuesday after experiencing discomfort in the elbow and biceps of his throwing arm.

The arm-related issue is particularly worrisome after the southpaw dealt with a similar feeling last season before being diagnosed with tendinitis and receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection to help with the healing.

"There is concern any time your elbow is concerned," Edgin told Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News.

Fear arose after Edgin's fastball velocity dipped to 88-91 mph in Grapefruit League action Monday against the Miami Marlins, according to Ackert. The 28-year-old's average fastball velocity was 93-plus mph last season, reaching as high as 95, according to Brooks Baseball.

Edgin, expected to be the primary left-hander out of the Mets' bullpen, was lights out in 2014, his third season in the big leagues. He posted a 1.32 ERA and struck out 9.22 batters per nine innings over 47 appearances.

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Renowned surgeon James Andrews confirmed a near-worst-case diagnosis Tuesday on Cliff Lee.

The Philadelphia Phillies' left-hander has a tear in the common flexor tendon of his pitching arm - a discovery Andrews agreed with the team about after Lee underwent an MRI.

Lee, who complained of discomfort last week during his first start of the spring, will head for surgery if he experiences further pain, which would sideline him for six-to-eight months. The tear is not to his ulnar collateral ligament, meaning he wouldn't need Tommy John surgery, but it would cost him his age-36 season and possibly his career.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is preparing to not have Lee at his disposal this season after the four-time All-Star's last rehab attempt proved unsuccessful.

"We're not terribly optimistic, but there is still the possibility he can come back and throw and throw with a minimal amount of discomfort," Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters. "But, we've tried to do this, rehab him non-surgically twice now, and the next order of progression I guess would be to have a surgery if it doesn't pan out, or at least that would, I think, be the suggestion from the doctors. Again, we're not to that point yet because we have to see how he does with his throwing progression here moving forward."

Bracing for the worst, Lee admitted after his Friday start that surgery could force him out of baseball for good. He was limited to 13 starts a season ago with a flexor tendon strain to the same area, breaking up a string of six consecutive 200-plus-inning seasons.

Lee is owed $25 million this season and the Phillies have a $27.5-million club option on him for 2016 that comes with a $12.5-million buyout. The option would become guaranteed - which isn't likely - if Lee's not on the disabled list at the end of this season for a left elbow or shoulder injury, or if he logs 200 innings in 2015 or 400 frames combined in 2014-15

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Blue Jays Marcus Stroman out for the season with a torn ACL.

Last edited on Tue Mar 10th, 2015 10:45 pm by lobo316

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Atlanta Braves left-hander Mike Minor will start the season on the disabled list because of inflammation in his pitching shoulder's rotator cuff.

Minor had an injection in his shoulder -- he said he didn't know exactly what was injected -- and won't throw for two weeks.

"It's just frustrating more than anything," Minor said Tuesday.

Minor was bothered by shoulder soreness last spring and didn't make his first big league start until May 2. He finished 6-12 with a 4.77 ERA in 25 starts.

He developed tightness after throwing batting practice last week, and the Braves scratched him from what was to be his first exhibition start Sunday against Houston. An MRI showed inflammation, and Minor was examined Monday by Dr. James Andrews in Gulf Breeze, Florida.

"They say there is nothing wrong structurally," Minor said. "Hopefully, the stretching and shoulder exercises will knock it out. ... There is no tearing or frays. It is just weak, and that is causing it to pinch."

Braves president of baseball operations John Hart called the diagnosis "about as good of news as we could have had."

Atlanta already had an open spot in its rotation behind Julio Teheran, Alex Wood and Shelby Miller. Competing for the openings are Wandy Rodriguez, Eric Stults, Mike Foltynewicz, Manny Banuelos and Cody Martin.

"I'm glad we have depth," Hart said.

Minor pitched 145 1/3 innings last season despite missing April and needing several injections during the season.

"I don't think this is like what Mike went through last year," Hart said. "It's an entirely different situation."

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Cincinnati Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco is sidelined indefinitely because of a mild concussion that he suffered when a foul ball hit him on the mask.

Mesoraco was hit on Saturday during a spring training game against Kansas City and was held out of a game the following day. Mesoraco said on Monday that it's a mild concussion and has left him a little hazy.

He's being tested daily and is confined to riding a stationary bicycle and walking on a treadmill to stay in shape.

"It is tough for me to sit around, but that's what you have to do," Mesoraco said. "Right now I want to get back to work and I can't do it. I did 20 minutes on the bike today. Tomorrow, I'll walk on the treadmill."

It's his third concussion as a professional. The other two came on collisions at home plate. Mesoraco says this one isn't as bad as the others, which happened in 2010 and 2012. It's unclear when he'll be allowed to resume a full range of activities.

"This was different than the first two," Mesoraco said. "I had more headaches the last time. With this one everything is just hazy."

He's considering changing his equipment to protect against another concussion.

"We may try a heavier-grade mask," Mesoraco said. "We will maybe put some stuff in my helmet."

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San Diego Padres catcher Tim Federowicz is expected to undergo arthroscopic surgery after an MRI revealed a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee.

Federowicz, who suffered the injury during Sunday's game against the Colorado Rockies, was competing for the backup job behind Derek Norris this spring.

Padres manager Bud Black indicated that the team will provide an estimated timetable for recovery after surgery.

"We'll huddle with the doctors and (general manager A.J. Preller) tomorrow and see what the next course of action is," Black told reporters. "It depends on the significance of the tear."

Federowicz was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the December trade involving Matt Kemp.

Wil Nieves will likely assume backup duties in Federowicz's absence. The 37-year-old veteran signed a minor-league deal with the Padres this winter.

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lobo316 wrote: Blue Jays Marcus Stroman out for the season with a torn ACL.

 


Toronto Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman will likely miss the season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Blue Jays manager Alex Anthopoulos says the promising pitcher suffered the injury while fielding a bunt during batting practice when he felt a pop.

Anthopoulos says they will seek a second opinion but don't expect the diagnosis to change.

Big things were expected from Stroman this season after the year he had in 2014. The argument could easily be made he was the Blue Jays’ most effective pitcher during the last four months of the campaign when he went 10-6 with a 3.18 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 124 1/3 innings pitched.

Stroman gave up two hits, walked two and struck out three in 2 2-3 innings of work in a split-squad loss to the Astros on Monday.

It's the second significant injury to hit the Blue Jays lineup this spring. Outfielder Michael Saunders had 60 per cent of the meniscus removed from his left knee last week after a freak accident that saw him step on a sprinkler head indentation at the Jays’ training complex. The initial prognosis was he would be out until the all-star break in mid-July but following surgery that was adjusted to five-to-six weeks.

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lobo316 wrote: lobo316 wrote: Blue Jays Marcus Stroman out for the season with a torn ACL. 
 F**K !

cdewar19

 

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Fuckity fuck fuck.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates are down a versatile arm as right-hander Brandon Cumpton underwent Tommy John surgery Tuesday.

Cumpton experienced pain in his elbow while throwing live batting practice last week and met with Dr. James Andrews on Monday before undergoing the procedure.

The 26-year-old made 10 starts in 16 appearances for the Pirates last season, posting a 4.89 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 70 innings.

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SARASOTA, Fla. - Former New York Yankees star Hideki Matsui has been hired by the team as a special adviser to general manager Brian Cashman.

The Yankees said Tuesday that the 2009 World Series MVP will work with Cashman and player development vice president Gary Denbo. Matsui will spend most of the season traveling in the team's minor league system to discuss hitting with managers, batting coaches and players.

Now 40, Matsui hit .292 with New York from 2003-09 with 140 homers and 597 RBIs. He hit .615 (8 for 13) with three homers and eight RBIs, then went on to finish his playing career with the Los Angeles Angels (2010), Oakland (2011) and Tampa Bay (2012).

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The Chicago Cubs have shut down starting candidate Jacob Turner after an MRI revealed structural damage in his right pitching elbow.

Turner has a mild flexor strain and bone bruise in the joint, but no ligament damage, according to various reports.

He will seek a second opinion, but is expected to start the season on the disabled list.

Turner split time with the Cubs and Miami Marlins last season, authoring a 6.13 ERA and 1.60 WHIP in 18 starts and 28 total appearances.

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the squared circle wrote: lobo316 wrote: lobo316 wrote: Blue Jays Marcus Stroman out for the season with a torn ACL. 
 F**K !


 

Treatment for torn ACL's include using tendons from the patient, or from dead people.
So, if square circle or I die today, maybe, just maybe tendons from our corpses
could be used to repair Stroman's ACL.

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Baseball fans planning to attend some spring training games in Arizona on Thursday will have some added incentive to come to the ballpark.

Actor Will Ferrell is planning a wacky stunt, which should add some serious entertainment value across the Cactus League, according to USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale.

Comedian and actor Will Farrell plans to play all nine positions in Cactus League games Thursday, shuttled by helicopter to different parks.

— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 10, 2015
There are eight games on the Thursday schedule, so he'll have to double up at one venue.

Ferrell has a history of starring in sports films, and his antics around the diamond are well documented. Perhaps his most famous baseball spoof is his appearance as Ray "Rojo" Johnson during a minor-league game.

Ferrell is currently promoting his next film, "Get Hard," which also features Kevin Hart.

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The Tampa Bay Rays have signed left-hander Jonny Venters to a two-year minors deal, reported Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Venters, who hasn't appeared in a major-league game since 2012, is recovering from his third Tommy John surgery last September.

The former 2011 All-Star was one of the most dominant relievers in the game for the Atlanta Braves before suffering multiple elbow injuries. He boasts a career 2.23 ERA over 230 appearances.

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The fate of Yu Darvish is still undetermined, but now there's a likely course of action.

Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Wednesday Darvish will likely opt for surgery on his throwing elbow and a final decision will be made later this week. Dr. James Andrews is scheduled to review Darvish's scans before a conclusion is made.

Jon Daniels: #Rangers are not currently talking with other clubs about acquiring pitching help. "Our plan is to fill from within," he said.

— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilson_FWST) March 11, 2015
An MRI on Saturday revealed a sprained UCL in the righty's pitching elbow, prompting the three-time All-Star to seek a second opinion from Dr. David Altchek on Tuesday.

Darvish could attempt to rehab the injury without surgery - which would keep him out of action for roughly four months - or undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. The Rangers ace was shut down at the end of last season due to elbow inflammation, which suggests rehabbing might not be a corrective solution.

Darvish went 10-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 2014 and is owed $31 million by the club over the next three seasons.

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New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira isn't welcoming the city's expansion Major League Soccer team with open arms.

The Yankees will share Yankee Stadium with New York City Football Club this season, much to the dismay of Teixeira.

"It's going to suck," Teixeira told the New York Daily News, "but you have to deal with it. It's going to tear up the infield, but there's nothing we can do about it, so we'll deal with it."

NYCFC will play 17 regular season home games at the stadium, but games are spread out to avoid conflict for the most part, with the quickest turn around coming four days before the Yankees return home for a series.

While Teixeira voiced his concern, Yankees president Randy Levine doesn't believe the shared partnership will create much of an issue.

"We spent a lot of time going through the process to make sure that the field would be in good shape for both baseball and soccer,” Levine said. “We spent a lot of time with a lot of people, including our stadium operations and grounds crew, who we think are best in the world.

“Man City, who are soccer experts, and their crew also advised us on how to keep the field in good shape. We spoke to both leagues, and we're very comfortable in the way we've scheduled these events.”

NYCFC holds its home opener in the Bronx on Sunday.

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It's a good thing Joe Maddon doesn't manage David Ortiz.

With a young core of sluggers expecting to become permanent fixtures in the majors this season, the skipper of the Chicago Cubs is discouraging his players from exuberant home run celebrations.

"It's act like you've done it before and you can do it again," Maddon told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times. "The touchdown celebration, all that stuff, pounding your chest after dunking a basketball, all this stuff that's become part of today's generation of athletes - whether you agree with it being right or wrong doesn't matter.

"I would just prefer that our guys would act like they've done it before and that they're going to do it again."

That expectation might fall on deaf ears in Boston, as the Red Sox' slugger stated last week that he had the right to "pimp" his home runs and that fans come to the ballpark expecting some theatrics.

"The way that works, basically, is how much time you have at this level," Ortiz told Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald. "If you've got two days in the big leagues, I don't agree with you doing crazy stuff out there. But you have 19 years in the big leagues like I do, you can do whatever the hell you want - because you've earned that."

Given the pop that Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez have displayed early on in this spring, it's good that Maddon is making his stance known early.

However, it's interesting to note that the Cubs employ Manny Ramirez, who's never met a home run he couldn't celebrate, as a hitting consultant.

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The Kansas City Royals bullpen is down an arm as left-hander Tim Collins underwent Tommy John surgery Wednesday and is out for the season.

"It's obviously very disappointing," general manager Dayton Moore told Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. "Timmy's been a very important part of our bullpen. We expected him to have a terrific year. So it's a disappointment. We're just going to have to cover it."

Collins departed last Thursday's outing after experiencing tightness and soreness in his elbow and an MRI revealed ligament damage.

The 25-year-old split his time between the majors and Triple-A last season, posting a 3.86 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 21 innings with Kansas City. He made four postseason appearances, allowing a pair of runs in 5 2/3 innings.

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. - Cincinnati Reds minor leaguer Tanner Rahier was suspended without pay by the commissioner's office Wednesday for his arrest on assault charges.

Rahier was arrested over the weekend and charged with assaulting a woman outside a restaurant in Glendale, Arizona. He has been released from jail. He'll remain suspended pending an investigation of the charges. He faces further discipline from Major League Baseball depending upon the outcome of his case.

The 21-year-old third baseman was a second round pick in the June 2012 draft. He played for Class A Dayton last season, batting .238 with nine homers and 54 RBIs in 117 games. He committed 16 errors.

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New York Yankees left-hander Chris Capuano is likely out until May after suffering a Grade 2 quad strain while covering first base on a grounder Wednesday.

Capuano, who was expected to be the club's fifth starter, received a platelet-rich plasma injection Thursday and won't resume activities for at least two weeks.

''It's pretty stiff and sore today,'' he said. ''Would love to be ready for the start of the season, but it might be a week or two in."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi was less optimistic, telling reporters he expects Capuano to remain sidelined through April.

Girardi, who was already considering a six-man rotation for the opening month of the season, said there are a number of candidates auditioning for the vacant spot, including Adam Warren, Chase Whitley and Esmil Rogers.

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First-year skipper Kevin Cash apparently has plenty of time to grow into his new job.

The Tampa Bay Rays reportedly gave Cash a staggering five-year deal to manage the team, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, despite having no previous managerial experience at any level.

The 37-year-old Cash, who was named the fifth manager in Rays history in Decemeber, is the youngest manager in the majors.

Deals for first-time skippers typically don't exceed two or three years, though it appears Cash has already matched his predecessor before he's even managed his first regular season game.

The Chicago Cubs signed former Rays manager Joe Maddon to a five-year, $25-million deal in the offseason.

Rays general manager Matt Silverman and Cash's agent Ryan Gleichowski both declined comment to CBS Sports.

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Uh-oh. Bautista got hit in the hand in today's game
with the Orioles.

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Texas Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery Tuesday.

Renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery. Andrews reviewed Darvish's latest MRI scan on his throwing elbow and concurred with two other doctors' recommendations to perform surgery.

Darvish experienced discomfort in his throwing arm during his March 5 start vs. the Kansas City Royals and left the outing with what the team called right triceps tightness.

The surgery will keep Darvish off the mound for all of the 2015 season and possibly early into the 2016 campaign. The Rangers owe him $31 million over the next three seasons before he can elect free agency following the 2017 campaign.

Yu: I was told there isn't a tear. It's more like being thinned out. If it's thinned out, there's a danger.

— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilson_FWST) March 13, 2015
Darvish, a three-time All-Star, went 10-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 22 starts for Texas in 2014 before being shut down late in the season due to elbow inflammation.

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The D-Train is making its final stop.

Dontrelle Willis told the Milwaukee Brewers that he's calling off his comeback and will retire after nine seasons.

"He just said the physical part of it, coming in and trying to get out there on the field, has worn on him," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. "He may slide in [Saturday] morning to say bye to the guys, but he's been thinking about this for a few days and struggling with what he wants to do. He still wants to compete, but he knows physically that he's having a tough time getting out there."

The 33-year-old, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2011, agreed to a minor-league deal with the Brewers in January but never made an appearance this spring because of a neck injury.

Selected in the eighth round of the 2000 draft by the Chicago Cubs, Willis was named National League Rookie of the Year in 2003 after posting a 14-6 record and 3.30 ERA in 27 starts for the World Series champion Florida Marlins.

Willis would finish 2005 with a 22-10 record and 2.63 ERA while coming second in NL Cy Young voting, but injuries would derail his career three years later.

From 2008-11, the left-hander would go 4-15 with a 6.15 ERA, while only throwing 199 innings over four seasons.

A dominant force on the mound early in his career, Willis was also one of the best hitting pitchers in the game. In 446 plate appearances he slashed .244/.287/.378 with nine home runs.

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The Chicago Cubs will be without right-hander Jacob Turner to start the season.

Turner received a second opinion on his ailing right elbow, which confirmed that he had a bone bruise and mild flexor strain but no ligament damage, reports JJ Stankevitz of CSN Chicago. The 23-year-old is expected to take the next month off to rest his arm and will open the season on the disabled list.

"It's something that, right now, is not smart to throw through, basically," Turner said. "If I try to throw through it, it's something that could be worse."

Acquired from the Miami Marlins last August, Turner posted a 2-4 record and 6.49 ERA in eight appearances (six starts) with the Cubs last season. He was expected to challenge Travis Wood for the fifth spot in the rotation this spring.

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PEORIA, Ariz. - The Milwaukee Brewers will have to find a new way to celebrate for the next few spring training games. The team has banned high fives to avoid the spread of pink eye.

Catcher Jonathan Lucroy and pitching coach Rick Kranitz became the latest victims Thursday. They will be staying home for 48 hours in hopes of stopping the spread of the annoying and highly contagious malady.

''We've been going through it for a while and it seems like a couple of more show up every day,'' manager Ron Roenicke said.

The team won't high five until the outbreak is over. The Brewers play the Mariners Friday afternoon.

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The battle for a rotation spot in Tampa Bay just got a whole lot more interesting.

Rays right-hander Alex Colome has been diagnosed with pneumonia and is out indefinitely, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Colome was expected to compete for a spot in the starting rotation after sorting out a visa issue, which delayed his reporting to camp.

The 26-year-old owns a 3-1 record with a 2.50 ERA in just under 40 innings pitched at the big-league level across two seasons.

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The Boston Red Sox officially announced the signing of prospect Yoan Moncada with a press conference Friday, and general manager Ben Cherington spoke highly of the 19-year-old Cuban phenom.

"This has been an atypical scouting and signing process for an atypical talent," Cherington said. "One of the most talented 19-year-olds in the world ... He's a developing baseball player, but an exceptionally talented one. Great athlete with speed and power."

It cost the Red Sox $31.5 million to lock down Moncada and they incurred an additional cost of $31.5 million for exceeding the international bonus spending limit.

Red Sox director of international scouting Eddie Romero revealed the team has been monitoring Moncada's progress since 2010 and said, "There was no doubt his tools stood out."

"My goal is to make it to the big leagues in one year," Moncada pronounced, also acknowledging the goal may be unrealistic.

Moncada said he feels most comfortable playing second base but isn't opposed to playing at shortstop, third base or in the outfield.

Cherington plans to initially give Moncada playing time at second in the minors with Single-A Greenville. However, it seems unlikely that he'll steal the everyday job from Dustin Pedroia, who's under contract until after the 2021 campaign, in the near future.

Moncada said he worked out for 11 teams prior to signing and narrowed his decision down to the Red Sox and New York Yankees.

"It was tough deciding ... at the end of the day, I appreciated the attention and plan the Red Sox set out for me."

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The Seattle Mariners' starting shortstop battle is over after an MRI revealed a fractured bone in Chris Taylor's right wrist.

Taylor, who suffered the break Friday when he fouled a pitch off his wrist, is expected to wear a brace for 10 days and remain sidelined for four-to-six weeks. Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik confirmed the injury Saturday.

The injury effectively ends the competition up the middle between Taylor and Brad Miller, both of whom had been playing well this spring. Miller, who received the bulk of playing time at shortstop last year, entered Saturday 6-for-15, while Taylor had eight hits in 19 at-bats prior to going down.

"They've both played extremely well," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon told reporters Saturday. "You hate to see the competition end this way. But those things happen."

Taylor, 24, hit .287/.347/.346 with eight doubles and five steals over 151 plate appearances as a rookie in 2014.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- While the Giants have been measured in their response to critical comments made by Pablo Sandoval explaining his decision to leave San Francisco and sign with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent this offseason, former teammate Aubrey Huff did not exercise similar restraint.

And Sandoval fired back Friday.

"Who is Aubrey Huff?" Sandoval asked in response to a post made by the former first baseman on Facebook. "What is important here is to see where the person who made those comments is, and where I am now, that's what counts."

Huff, who played 13 years in the big leagues, ended his career in 2012 after the Giants declined the $10 million option they held on him for the 2013 season. He currently is a assistant varsity baseball coach at Canyon Crest Academy in San Diego.

"I'm pretty sure their (sic) wasn't a tear shed on behalf of all the players, and the coaches when he signed with Boston," Huff's Facebook post from earlier in the week read. "It has always been about Pablo. He had the fans fooled but not the players! One of the biggest reasons he didn't want to come back is because the Giants made him workout on the treadmill every day! Pretty sure that was a driving force for him! Never the less [sic] he could have always been a legend in San Fran but ego always will come in to play when it comes to Pablo! Sorry for the rant just want to take up for the players who are there now holding their tongues, because they don't want to get in the middle of this! If you can't get along with guys like (Buster) Posey, (Madison) Bumgarner, (Matt) Cain, (Jeremy) Affeldt (sic), just to name a few, then maybe it's time to look in the mirror! Rant over!"

Huff was reacting to a Bleacher Report story last week in which Sandoval asserted he left the Giants because they "disrespected" his agent, and that "it is not about money, it is about how you treat the player."

Sandoval also was quoted as saying he missed only Giants manager Bruce Bochy and outfielder Hunter Pence.

"Those were completely incoherent comments," Sandoval said of Huff's post.

"I'm not selfish. I am where I am because I have worked very hard and have always done my job. Anyone can say whatever they want. I will not lose sleep or stop working my hardest because of that."

Despite the tempest caused by his initial comments, Sandoval was not backing down.

"I said what I had to say, and I'm not going to take it back," he said. "I stand by it. I was clear, and you know what they say, the truth hurts."

To Huff's assertion that he was speaking for current Giants players who are refraining from comment, Sandoval said: "Let them speak up and say whatever they want. I'm not selfish and I have always worked very hard for my team. Those are things I have proven to my teammates, especially working with young players."

Sandoval was a beloved figure in San Francisco, dubbed with one of baseball's best nicknames, Kung Fu Panda. Asked about the potential damage his comments have made to his image in the Bay Area, he said: "Yes, maybe some people will change their perception. But I felt I really had something to say, and I wanted to get it out. It's nothing against the fans or against the players; fans always supported me in good and bad times."

Sandoval said he has not kept in touch with his former Giants teammates.

"But it's nothing personal," he said. "It's time to move on and turn the page, and now I am focused on my new home with my new teammates, and have left the rest behind. I am focused on my own teammates now and spending as much time together as possible."

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New York Mets left-hander Josh Edgin has opted for the surgery.

Edgin was diagnosed with a stretched out ligament in the elbow of his pitching arm earlier this week and was debating whether to go the route of rest and rehab or undergo Tommy John surgery.

The Mets hoped Edgin would try to rehab for several weeks to see if there were any improvements, though the 28-year-old announced Sunday that he will go under the knife.

"It was the best decision for my future and my family," Edgin said in a statement. "The Mets stood behind me 100 percent. I'm disappointed, because we have a heck of a team. My mindset is to be ready to go on Opening Day 2016."

Edgin was limited to 27 1/3 innings last season after missing 14 games with elbow soreness. When he was on the mound, Edgin was impressive, posting a 1.32 ERA and 0.91 WHIP, while striking out 28.

With Edgin out for the season, the Mets will likely be in search of a left-hander for their bullpen.

"We'll continue to look at our internal options and we'll explore things externally as well," general manager Sandy Alderson told Adam Rubin of ESPN.

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Following an impressive second half of last season, Tampa Bay Rays left-hander Drew Smyly is expected to have his 2015 campaign delayed.

The 25-year-old has battled shoulder tendinitis this spring and manager Kevin Cash told reporters on Sunday that he's unlikely to be ready to start the season - even if all goes well.

Acquired in a three-team deal that saw the Rays trade ace David Price to the Detroit Tigers, Smyly was exceptional in two months in Tampa.

Across seven starts, he went 3-1 with a 1.70 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings.

Heralded as having the deepest staff in the division, the Rays' depth will be tested early on. With Smyly's return date up in the air, the team is also without Alex Colome, who's battling pneumonia, and left-hander Matt Moore isn't expected to rejoin the rotation until June following Tommy John surgery,

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I guess obliques are nothing to sneeze at.


DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar is being sidelined -- by a sneeze.

Pillar is expected to miss a week to 10 days with an oblique strain sustained while sneezing on Saturday morning.

Pillar, who is in contention for a starting spot, said he sneezed and felt a sharp pain in his right side, but opted not to tell team trainers about it until after he was pulled in the fifth inning of Toronto's win over a Yankees split squad. Following treatment, Pillar was advised to rest.

He did not play Sunday.

"I don't think this is a big deal," Pillar said. "It's something I played with (Saturday) and something I was prepared with to play today. But they're being very respectful about it and willing to give me a little bit of time."

Pillar is batting .269 with one home run and five RBIs in 26 plate appearances this spring.

"Just knowing how long obliques can linger," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos told reporters. "I remember when Rajai Davis said he had a small one and could play through it. He did for another two weeks and then it got worse and he was on the shelf for about three weeks. Take the week, get it out of the way and he'll be fine."

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Ross Ohlendorf exited after two innings with right groin tightness, Texas' fifth starting pitcher injured in spring training, and the Rangers beat a Milwaukee Brewers split squad 12-5 Sunday.

Ohlendorf joins Yu Darvish, Ross Detwiler and Anthony Ranaudo as departing starts prematurely with injuries. Derek Holland has been limited to one inning in a "B" game after experiencing a sore shoulder early in camp.

"I don't know when I'll be back," Ohlendorf said. "I'll be fine at some point soon. I hurt my groin just a little bit. It was real slight. I just felt like I would irritate it if I stayed in."

Ohlendorf, who spent all of last season on the disabled list, allowed one unearned run and one hit, while striking out four before feeling a twinge in his groin on his final pitch. He has nine strikeouts in four innings over his first two starts.

"I'm real happy with the way I'm throwing," Ohlendorf said.

The Rangers sent 10 men to the plate in a seven-run first, highlighted by Jake Smolinski's two-run triple. Mitch Moreland added a two-run single in the first and drove in another run with a third-inning single.

"I think all around it was a good day," Moreland said. "The first guy had trouble throwing strikes, so a lot of guys had some patient at-bats and we were able to scratch a few runs early and it kinda carried over throughout the game."

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jason Bourgeois is going to be out four to six weeks with a fracture in his left shoulder.

The 33-year old was trying to win a job as the Reds' fourth outfielder.

Bourgeois left the game against the Rockies on Saturday after a successful sacrifice bunt. He collapsed, holding his arm a third of the way down the first base line.

Manager Bryan Price said Bourgeois felt something in his shoulder in the Reds' first Cactus League game on March 2. He was held out a couple days and treated.

Brennan Boesch, who can play all three outfield positions, now has the inside track to win a spot on the Reds' bench.

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The Minnesota Twins aren't ready to bring outfielder Byron Buxton to the major-league level yet.

Buxton, ranked by Baseball America as the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball, was one of nine players the Twins reassigned to minor-league camp on Sunday.

The second overall pick in the 2012 draft, Buxton was limited to 31 games by numerous injuries last season. He hit .240/.313/.405 with four home runs in 124 at-bats in Single-A before sustaining a season-ending concussion on an outfield collision in his Double-A debut.

Buxton's injury woes continued in the Arizona Fall League, as he suffered a fractured middle finger while attempting a diving catch.

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Torii Hunter appears to be enjoying his reunion with the Minnesota Twins.

The outfielder, who signed a one-year deal to come back to Minnesota in the offseason, is now changing his tune on the issue of retirement. The 39-year-old said he'd play one more year if he puts up good numbers this year during an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Sunday.

Hunter contemplated calling it quits following last season, but elected to turn back the clock and return to the Twins, the organization he began his career with. He's also now had a first-hand opportunity to watch top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano in action - two players that represent the bright future of the franchise. The charismatic Hunter has surely played a mentor role in his brief time with the dynamic duo this spring.

Hunter has also previously expressed interest in joining the Twins' front office once he decides to retire, and thinks he may be a good general manager for the organization.

The 18-year veteran proved he can still produce at a high level last year with the Detroit Tigers, hitting .286 with 17 home runs and 83 RBIs.

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KISSIMMEE, FLA.—Injuries continue to plague the Toronto Blue Jays, with second baseman Ramon Santiago the latest to be sidelined.


Santiago, a non-roster invitee and a candidate for a backup job, broke a collarbone while making a diving catch in shallow centre field in the Jays’ 10-5 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Sunday. There was no immediate news on how long Santiago would be sidelined.


The Jays have already lost pitcher Marcus Stroman and outfielders Michael Saundersand Kevin Pillar. Stroman is expected to miss the season with a knee injury; Saunders, who also has a knee injury, should return before spring training concludes; and Pillar is expected to miss a week after straining his oblique this weekend while sneezing.

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Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw holds himself at a higher standard than most – one of the many reasons why he's a perennial Cy Young winner.

While the majority of pitchers wouldn't complain about surrendering one run off four hits and three walks over 3 1/3 innings in March, that type of outing Sunday against the Seattle Mariners isn't going to sit well with Kershaw.

"Today was rough," Kershaw told Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times. "I was all over the place. Had no idea where the ball was going. I'm getting worse as the spring goes on. So I've got to figure it out."

What really agitated Kershaw was the amount of free passes he issued.

"I walked three guys in three innings," Kershaw said. "I haven't done that in a long time. There's a lot of things to figure out."

While the Dodgers retained Kershaw's batterymate A.J. Ellis this offseason, Yasmani Grandal has been working with the three-time Cy Young winner this spring and the two are still trying to iron out some of the wrinkles.

"It's part of the process that you've got to go through," pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. "They'll get to know each other more. And know those little things that you feel like you can say or do to get a pitcher through the tough innings."

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Less than a month after welcoming back Matt Harvey from Tommy John surgery, the New York Mets are on the verge of losing another heralded young pitcher.

The team announced Zack Wheeler has a torn UCL in his throwing elbow and will travel to New York on Monday to seek a second opinion. Provided the diagnosis is confirmed, the hard-throwing right-hander will likely undergo season-ending surgery.

"You're always prepared for bad news," general manager Sandy Alderson told reporters Monday. "But, honestly, I have to say this kind of result is not totally unexpected."

Alderson's declaration helps explain the team's reluctance to deal from its surplus of starting pitching this offseason, perhaps because of uncertainty over the ligaments in Wheeler's elbow.

The Mets GM said the club had been forewarned as early as last year that doctors were concerned regarding the 24-year-old, and that the pitcher skipped multiple bullpen sessions between starts due to discomfort.

Wheeler was scratched from Saturday's start after experiencing tenderness in his elbow, though the team sounded unconcerned at the time.

"There are a lot of games he pitched with his elbow bothering him," manager Terry Collins said at the time. "So we know it’s been there. We know he’s had this issue before."

Z.WHEELER     K/9              GB% FB          VELO
'14 (NL Rk)    9.08 (6)          54% (3)       94.7 mph (3)
(Courtesy: Fangraphs)

Wheeler, who threw a career-high 185 1/3 innings with a team-leading 187 strikeouts in 2014, entered camp this spring with a lofty goal of reaching the 200-inning plateau.

But despite the warning signs – including Wheeler undergoing two MRIs in the offseason on his elbow and Collins saying his delivery leaves him susceptible to discomfort – Alderson insists the issues were believed to be manageable and that previous testing showed no ligament damage.

"Something we've learned is that you have to individualize the recovery for each pitcher and each injury," Alderson said Monday. "This is an industry-wide problem, and is something that baseball will continue to look at."

Harvey, who missed the entire 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, has looked sharp this spring and is expected to be ready by Opening Day.

The Mets will likely consider Dillon Gee or top prospect Noah Syndergaard to replace Wheeler in the starting rotation.

Last edited on Mon Mar 16th, 2015 09:26 pm by lobo316

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It's sometimes easy to forget just how good Jonathan Papelbon is.

The outspoken Philadelphia Phillies' closer pitches with raw emotion and his brashness rubs some the wrong way. However, while not everyone enjoys his style, it would be a disservice not to consider him as one of baseball's top closers.

Entering his 11th season in the majors, the 34-year-old sits just 33 saves behind Troy Percival for ninth on the all-time list, though Papelbon isn't looking to stop there.

"I view it like this: the day I decided to be in this closer's role, I decided to chase Mariano (Rivera), the best one," Papelbon told Rob Bradford of WEEI. "I feel like I'm on that path, and it's a tough path. Obviously, to get to that level is unheard of, but I strive to get there still."

Catching Rivera may be an insurmountable task, as Papelbon sits 327 saves behind the all-time leader, but coming off a superb 2014 season, there's no reason to think he can't eventually crack the top 5.

RANK PLAYER          (YEARS)   SAVES
1 Mariano Rivera        (19)        652
2 Trevor Hoffman       (18)        601
3 Lee Smith                (18)        478
4 John Franco              (21)       424
5 Billy Wagner            (16)        422
16 Jonathan Papelbon (10)        325


Since taking over the closer's role for the Boston Red Sox - in his first full season in the majors in 2006 - Papelbon has been able to hold down one of baseball's most volatile positions, averaging 36 saves per season.

While surpassing the former Yankees' closer remains a target, it isn't the ultimate goal for the 114th pick of the 2003 draft.

"My sights are on the Hall of Fame, and my sights are being the best I can be in every opportunity that I get to be in," Papelbon said.

"I thought about that when I was in the minor leagues. They made me fill out these pieces of paper in instructional league, and I wrote all this stuff about being an eight-time All-Star and being in the Hall of Fame. They actually brought the paper to me and said, 'This is serious. Stop messing around.' I told them I wasn't messing around. I was dead serious."

Last edited on Mon Mar 16th, 2015 09:29 pm by lobo316

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Minnesota Twins fans pining for the arrival of the club's next great slugger will have to remain patient for a little longer.

Miguel Sano was officially reassigned to minor-league camp on Monday, less than 48 hours after flexing his muscles with a towering blast in Grapefruit League action Saturday.

Sano, considered one of the top power-hitting prospects in baseball, is expected to report to Double-A Chattanooga.

The hulking 6-4, 235-pound third baseman was an unlikely candidate to make the 25-man roster this spring after missing the entire 2014 season with a torn UCL in his right elbow. Twins general manager Terry Ryan noted at the beginning of camp that the 21-year-old slugger still needs to prove himself at the hot corner before securing a spot with the major league club.

"He needs work on that, there's no question," Ryan said earlier this week, as reported by Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. "But he does have an arm. He does have agility. His hands are fine. Now it's just a matter of putting it all together."

Sano, who will join the Twins' other super prospect Byron Buxton in Chattanooga, hit 19 homers with a .915 OPS in 67 games as a 20-year-old at Double-A in 2013.

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Commissioner Rob Manfred says he'll consider reinstating Pete Rose into baseball after the all-time hits leader recently requested a meeting to review his lifetime ban.

Rose, who made the request through his representatives, was declared permanently ineligible from Major League Baseball in 1989 due to gambling on games. The 73-year-old expressed optimism last month over meeting the new commissioner and having his ban reconsidered.

"I've done my time, I've paid the price,'' Rose said in February. "Isn't it time to forgive? Isn't this country about getting second chances?"

For his part, Manfred appears willing to approach the issue with an open mind.

"I'm prepared to deal with that request on its merits," he told reporters while visiting Los Angeles Dodgers' training camp Monday.

Rose, who's one of only two players in MLB history with more than 4,000 hits (4,256), is expected to be a part of the All-Star Game festivities this summer in Cincinnati.

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Plagued by ceaseless injuries in recent years, veteran infielder Rafael Furcal will reportedly get a chance this spring to revive his career with the reigning American League champions.

The 37-year-old agreed to a minor-league deal with the Kansas City Royals on Monday, and will continue to rehab his torn left hamstring at the club's minor-league complex, according to Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star.

Furcal, who appeared in just nine games with the Miami Marlins last season after missing the entire 2013 campaign due to Tommy John surgery, suffered his latest injury while playing in the Dominican Winter League.

Furcal, a three-time All-Star, hasn't received regular playing time in the major since 2012, when he hit .264/.325/.346 with 12 stolen bases across 121 games with the St. Louis Cardinals.

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Cliff Lee's future in baseball grew increasingly dubious on Monday.

Diagnosed last week with a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow, Lee was officially shut down by the Philadelphia Phillies and placed on the 60-day disabled list due to what they called a "left forearm strain."

The four-time All-Star spent four months on the disabled list last season due to elbow and forearm problems, and experienced renewed discomfort after making his Grapefruit League debut last week.

Though surgery has been recommended for the beleaguered 36-year-old, Lee and the Phillies have once again opted for rehab, despite two failed previous attempts to fix his ailing arm without surgical intervention.

Lee, however, would miss the entire 2015 campaign if he opted for surgery, and conceded last week that elbow surgery could possibly end his career.

As such, Lee will begin a rehabilitation program shortly after a period of rest, and will undergo periodic evaluations in Philadelphia to determine when he can resume throwing. However, Lee admitted Monday that rehab probably won't fix his stubborn left arm.

"It's fairly likely that it will remain the same," Lee conceded to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.

Lee, who claimed the American League Cy Young award in 2008, is owed $25 million this season and has a $27.5-million vesting option for the following year that comes with a $12.5-million buyout.

"It's tough to stay positive about it but it kind of is what it is," Lee said. "There's nothing I can do. To me, it came down to either have the surgery, or don't. I'm going to give it a chance. The doctor wanted me to have the surgery and recommended it, but I can still do that two to three months from now if I'm not able to pitch."

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The Toronto Blue Jays reportedly augmented their rotation depth Monday evening, just days after Marcus Stroman suffered a season-ending knee injury, by agreeing to a minor-league deal with veteran left-hander Randy Wolf, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported Monday night that Wolf can opt out of his contract June 1 and will earn $800,000 if he makes the major-league roster.

Wolf, 38, logged four starts and two relief appearances for the Miami Marlins last season after missing the entire 2013 campaign due to Tommy John surgery. Though he spent the majority of the season in Triple-A, Wolf managed a 5.26 ERA with a 1.52 WHIP over 25 2/3 innings with Miami in 2014 and owns a 4.21 ERA (100 ERA+) over parts of 15 seasons in the major leagues.

While Toronto's rotation remains decidedly unsettled following Stroman's injury - Daniel Norris, Aaron Sanchez and Marco Estrada are competing for two vacant starting jobs - Wolf seems unlikely to contend for a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Instead, Wolf will likely serve as minor-league depth and provide the Blue Jays with another veteran option beyond Liam Hendriks, Jeff Francis and, if healthy, Johan Santana.

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Cleveland Indians right-hander Gavin Floyd is set for his third elbow surgery in as many years.

The 32-year-old felt soreness in his pitching arm during a throwing session last week and an MRI revealed a stress fracture in his right elbow. He will undergo surgery Tuesday, according to multiple reports.

A timetable for his return has yet to be released, though manager Terry Francona didn't sound optimistic.

"He's going to miss a good portion, if not the whole year," Francona told Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.

Floyd, who agreed to a one-year, $4-million deal, has been limited to 78 2/3 innings over the past two seasons following a pair of elbow surgeries.

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Cincinnati Reds left-hander Tony Cingrani wasn't exactly thrilled when he was scratched from Monday's scheduled start against the San Francisco Giants in favor of Raisel Iglesias.

The 25-year-old was even more disappointed, however, when he realized the implications of Monday's decision.

"It means that we're going to get Iglesias stretched out, and as of right now, we're looking at Tony as more of a relief option than as a starting option," Reds manager Bryan Price told MLB.com's Doug Miller. "We have to find a way to get out of the gates strong, and at this point in time, the feeling was that organizationally, Tony's better suited for us at the moment as a relief pitcher."

Cingrani, a third-round pick in the 2011 draft, has spent the majority of his career in a starting role and was visibly disappointed when he was informed of the club's decision to relegate him to the bullpen.

"I don't know. Whatever," Cingrani said. "That's what they're telling me to do, so that's what I got to do.

"It's their call. It's not my call."

Cingrani has logged 29 starts to just 10 relief appearances since his 2012 debut with the Reds, posting much stronger peripheral statistics out of the bullpen despite a ridiculously high walk rate.

SPLIT          ERA   WHIP   K%   BB%     HR/9
as Starter  3.50   1.22   25.8  10.4     1.49
as Reliever 3.38   1.63   30.7  17.3     0.56

Last edited on Tue Mar 17th, 2015 03:58 pm by lobo316

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MESA, Ariz. - New baseball commissioner Rob Manfred says addressing the Oakland Athletics' desire for a new ballpark is a top priority list, though he's unsure what influence his office can have on the matter.

Manfred, who replaced Bud Selig in January, met with A's players Monday as part of his spring training tour.

Selig formed a panel in March 2009 to examine the issue, but the panel never issued a public report.

Manfred says Major League Baseball will continue to be involved but prefers to let the A's and city of Oakland try to find a solution.

The Giants have prevented the A's from building a ballpark in San Jose, which is part of San Francisco's territory. San Jose's antitrust claims in a lawsuit against MLB were dismissed, and the city says it intends to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

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Union leader Tony Clark says it's time to forgive Pete Rose.

Unfortunately for Rose, it isn't Clark's decision to make.

Clark, the executive director of the players' association, said Tuesday that he'd like to see commissioner Rob Manfred lift the lifetime ban that's kept Rose out of baseball for the last 25 years.

"I would love to see Pete reinstated," Clark told reporters after visiting the Detroit Tigers' spring training complex. "He made a decision. He made a decision that was not the right decision. He made a decision that he has paid a price for."

Manfred acknowledged Monday that Rose has formally reapplied to have his ban reviewed, and the commissioner said he plans to approach the request with an open mind.

"I'm prepared to deal with that request on its merits," Manfred said in his only comments on the issue.

Clark, whose major-league career didn't begin until five years after Rose was banned for gambling on games in 1989, believes baseball's all-time hits leader has served his time.

"Yes. I would love for there to be a consideration made, on behalf of the commissioner's office, that would take that into account, in reinstating him," he said.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. - Yu Darvish had his season-ending elbow surgery Tuesday, when the torn ligament from the Texas Rangers ace's right arm was replaced with a tendon from his forearm.

The Rangers said Dr. James Andrews reported elbow ligament-replacement surgery went as expected, with no complications.

Andrews did the surgery in Gulf Breeze, Florida, where Darvish was to have a follow-up exam Wednesday. He will rejoin the Rangers in Arizona within a few days, and is expected to remain in Texas for rehab during the regular season.

Darvish tweeted in Japanese on Tuesday, a message roughly translated that surgery ended safely and he thanked everyone who was thinking about him.

The pitcher likely will be sidelined until early 2016. His right arm will be in a sling for about 7-10 days and then he will have a brace on his elbow.

Andrews was the last of three doctors to review images of the 28-year-old pitcher's elbow. Darvish announced Friday he was having Tommy John surgery, but said he had made up his mind about that after the first doctor recommended the procedure.

Darvish was first examined by Rangers team physician Dr. Keith Meister and then New York Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek before Andrews reviewed the images.

Darvish left his only Cactus League start March 5 after one inning because of tightness in his right triceps. An MRI the next day revealed a partially torn ligament and inflammation.

Altcheck concurred with Meister's recommendation for surgery after the pitcher went to New York for an exam March 10.

An All-Star in each of his three seasons since arriving from Japan, Darvish started last season on the disabled list after experiencing neck stiffness in spring training. He missed only one start then, and was 10-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 22 starts before his final appearance Aug. 9 because of elbow inflammation.

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Scott Boras is among those who want to see Kris Bryant open the season with the Chicago Cubs and not in Triple-A.

Despite Bryant's impressive performance this spring - the 23-year-old leads the majors with six home runs already - the Cubs are expected to option him to the minor leagues to open the season, a tactic employed to delay his eligibility for both salary arbitration and free agency.

Boras, who represents Bryant, isn't too enamored with this strategy. The outspoken agent accused team ownership Tuesday of making personnel decisions that run contrary to the best interests of the baseball team.

"You are damaging the ethics and brand of Major League Baseball,'' Boras told Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports. "Kris Bryant has extraordinary skills. Kris Bryant is a superstar. He has distinguished himself from all players at every level he's played.

"Everybody in baseball is saying he's a major-league player ready for the big leagues. I have players call me. Executives call me. The Cubs' people want him there. Everyone says, 'They cannot send this guy down.' It's too obvious.

"This isn't a system choice. This isn't a mandate. This is a flat ownership decision. Do they really want to win here?''

Boras' gripe with Cubs ownership dates back to last season when the club opted not to reward Bryant with a September call-up even though the former first-round pick led the minors with 43 home runs.

"He certainly believes he should have been in the big leagues last September,'' Boras said, "and he certainly believes that if his spring performance is among the best 25 players, he should be in the big leagues now.

"What this spring has illustrated is that he should have been in the big leagues last September. He could have gotten his seasoning then. Major League Baseball fans missed something. They missed the opportunity to see this man perform, and the Cubs missed the opportunity to get him acclimated and established for 2015.''

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein disputed Boras' allegations that ownership's financial concerns influenced the decision to keep Bryant in the minors.

"Ownership doesn't have anything to do with it,'' Epstein said. "We're making an organizational decision. And I'll be the one, as president of baseball operations, making the decision.

"You never have a second chance to promote somebody the first time. You want to make sure they're in the right place. In Kris' case, we know he's ready offensively, we just want to get him in a good rhythm defensively.

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The New York Yankees received some troubling injury news Wednesday.

An MRI on outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury revealed a low-grade mild oblique strain, and the team plans to shut him down for seven days, reports Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.

Ellsbury was scratched from Tuesday's spring action and the team doctor wasn't too concerned about the injury at the time.

The good news is Opening Day is still 19 days away so it should give Ellsbury enough time to recover, barring a setback.

Ellsbury hit .271 with 16 home runs and 70 RBIs while stealing 39 bases for the Bronx Bombers last season.

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Zack Wheeler reportedly pitched through more than just pain last season.

A source tells Newsday's Marc Carig that prior to suffering the torn UCL revealed earlier this week, Wheeler had a slight tendon tear in his ailing right elbow that doctors tried to treat twice this offseason with platelet-rich plasma therapy.

The New York Mets admitted Wheeler pitched through bouts of inflammation and elbow tendinitis last season, but insisted he did so at no additional risk to his health. Newsday's source supports that claim, saying doctors assured the team that the tendon tear wouldn't result in a more significant injury and that Wheeler's ability to pitch would come down to his tolerance of pain.

Wheeler, who threw a career-high 185 1/3 innings with a team-leading 187 strikeouts last year, is expected to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery after a doctor confirmed Wednesday a complete tear of his UCL. Tests also showed additional tearing of his elbow tendon, according to Newsday.

General manager Sandy Alderson, who has taken heat this week for the club's handling of the 24-year-old right-hander, fired back at critics Tuesday who suggested the team put the young pitcher in harm's way by not shutting him down last season.

"Let me just ask, why would we treat somebody like (staff ace Matt) Harvey with the kind of caution that we did and then throw somebody else under the bus – somebody of essentially equal value to us as an organization?" Alderson asked reporters this week in Florida. "That wouldn't make any sense. I understand people can debate the number of pitches and the number of innings and this and that. We simply wouldn't treat two guys that differently."

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Jose Veras is back on the free-agent market as the right-handed reliever was released by the Atlanta Braves on Thursday.

The 34-year-old agreed to a minor-league deal in February but struggled this spring. In six appearances, Veras posted an 11.81 ERA to go with seven walks while allowing opponents to hit .364 in 5 1/3 innings.

Veras split last season between the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs, authoring a 4.50 ERA and 50 strikeouts across 46 appearances.

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Bryce Harper claimed the National League Rookie of the Year award as a 19-year-old and has appeared in two All-Star games since his 2012 debut with the Washington Nationals, earning countless plaudits throughout his brief major league career.

Still, Harper's peers don't seem too enamored of his abilities.

In a poll recently conducted by ESPN The Magazine, Harper was selected by his peers - for a second successive year - as baseball's most overrated player, according to Scott Allen of the Washington Post.

Selected first overall in 2010, Harper was tabbed as the game's most overrated player by 41 percent of respondents, edging out Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, who received 21 percent of votes. Last year, Harper received only 24 percent of votes.

Though Harper missed considerable time due to injury last season, his accomplishments through the incipient stages of his career remain nothing short of historic. Only 19 players in history have compiled more WAR before the age of 22, while Harper represents one of just 11 players since 2012 to record at least 50 home runs and 30 stolen bases with an OPS above .800.

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Baseball fans will have some added incentive to book off the final day of the regular season this year.

MLB is planning to start all 15 games at 3 p.m. ET on Oct. 4 in an attempt to add some excitement to the season finales.

The scheduling adjustment will eliminate the possibility of a team being eliminated from playoff contention by a previous result in the day, and create an intense scoreboard-watching scenario for potential postseason-bound clubs.

For example, last year both the National League Central and the second American League wild card spot were decided on the final day of the season. The Pittsburgh Pirates fell to the Cincinnati Reds early in the day, which handed the Central crown to the St. Louis Cardinals who played later. The Cardinals were able to scratch staff ace Adam Wainwright with the division already under wraps and save him for the divisional series as a result.

The early feedback from players is positive.

"It's a cool little wrinkle," Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. "It will definitely make games more exciting that day."

Ethier's teammate A.J. Ellis likes the strategic implications the change will present to managers.

"If somebody is banged up, you can't risk resting him, because you haven't seen the score of the other game," Ellis noted.

Of course, MLB's experiment will only be a success if there are playoff spots still up for grabs entering the respective finales and Mother Nature doesn't force any delays or postponements.

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Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu will be shut down for a few days after receiving an inflammation-reducing injection in his left shoulder.

Ryu first experienced tightness Wednesday and reported the discomfort was similar to the inflammation that caused him to miss more than a month last season. He's been ordered to stop throwing and will be re-evaluated early next week.

The Dodgers left-hander said he did not receive an MRI on his shoulder, and that he still expects to be ready Opening Day. Manager Don Mattingly also sounded unconcerned, but admitted there's a possibility he'll open the year on the disabled list.

Ryu's performed to mixed results this spring, allowing two earned runs on three hits over five innings of work. Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reported Ryu's velocity was down in his most recent outing.

The 27-year-old missed most of May due to inflammation last year, and was slowed by shoulder fatigue during the final month of the season.

Ryu made just two starts in September, but returned to pitch Game 3 of the NL Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. He threw six innings of one-run ball in the Dodgers' 3-1 loss.

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For the first time since 2007, someone other than Justin Verlander will start Opening Day for the Detroit Tigers.

It might be David Price's only opener in a Tigers uniform, too.

Brad Ausmus announced Friday that Price will get the ball April 6 against the Minnesota Twins, snapping Verlander's run of seven-consecutive Opening Day starts. Price, who's a free agent at the end of the season, pitched the last two openers for the Tampa Bay Rays.

"Looking at it from a baseball perspective, I felt like this was the decision. It was not an easy decision," the Tigers manager told MLive's Chris Iott. "Ultimately I have to make a decision based on baseball for the 2015 Tigers, and I think I could have gone either way."

Verlander, 32, has struggled to regain his dominant form in recent years, pitching to the second-worst ERA of his career with a league-high 104 earned runs allowed in 2014.

"I want to earn opening day," Verlander admitted. "I don't want to be handed opening day. ... I know I didn't earn it."

Ausmus said he expects Verlander, who was slowed by offseason core surgery and shoulder issues last season, to bounce back in a big way in 2015.

"Quite frankly," he said, "I hope a year from now Justin Verlander has the type of year that he has to pitch Opening Day."

Price, who was acquired from the Rays at the deadline last year, is coming off a career-high and major-league leading 248 1/3 innings and 271 strikeouts.The left-hander avoided arbitration with the Tigers this winter by agreeing to a record-setting $19.75-million deal.

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The Chicago White Sox have signed outfielder Adam Eaton to a five-year contract extension with two club options, general manager Rick Hahn announced Friday.

Eaton will reportedly earn $23.5 million over the five years and can cash in $9.5 million and $10.5 million, respectively, if the club picks up his 2020 and 2021 option years. Both options have a $1.5 million buyout.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers had the biggest injury scare possible Friday afternoon during a spring game against the Oakland Athletics.

Reigning National League Cy Young Award winner and MVP Clayton Kershaw, who is making his fourth Cactus League start, was struck in the jaw by an Andy Parrino line drive in the third inning.

Training staff rushed to the aid of the left-hander, but after further medical evaluation, he was allowed to remain in the game.

The Dodgers should provide an update on his status following the game.

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General soreness ???

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is not expected to play over the weekend after missing games this week because of dehydration and general soreness.

Manager John Farrell said Ortiz is not in jeopardy of missing Opening Day, despite the fact the team begins the season in Philadelphia and the Red Sox DH may be required to play first base. Farrell also insisted the slugger's ailments are not related to lingering issues with his Achilles.

"He's under the weather,” Farrell told reporters Friday, noting he plans on getting Ortiz work in the field upon his return. “He's dealing with a couple of things. He's going to remain going through overall treatment just getting some of the general soreness out of it."

Ortiz, who needs 34 homers to reach 500, is 4-for-15 this spring with a homer and five runs batted in.

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The Chase Utley trade rumors are heating up as the regular season approaches.

The Philadelphia Phillies second baseman can be easily attained if teams are willing to take on his full contract, reported MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez.

Utley, who has a no-trade clause (10-and-5 rights), would also need to approve a potential deal. The 36-year-old is entering the final year of his guaranteed contract and will earn $15 million this season. He also has vesting options for the next three seasons (2016, 2017, 2018) that are activated if he makes at least 500 plate appearances in each of the next three campaigns.

Utley has previously stated he would welcome a trade, but is also content with staying put in Philadelphia and playing out the remainder of his contract.

The Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees are some of the teams that may be seeking an upgrade at second base.

The six-time All-Star hit .270 with 11 home runs and 78 RBIs in 155 games for the Phillies last season.

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When Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters underwent Tommy John surgery in June, the 28-year-old catcher was optimistic he'd be able to at least serve as designated hitter for the first game of the 2015 campaign.

Wieters, however, was shut down earlier this week due to tendinitis in his surgically repaired elbow and now appears likely to open the campaign on the disabled list, reports MASN's Roch Kubatko.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter added, meanwhile, that using Wieters as a designated hitter wouldn't aid the recovery process. Wieters, incidentally, remains hitless through seven Grapefruit League games and has struck out four times in 23 at-bats thus far.

"We like where it's headed but we want to make sure it has completely dissolved itself and let him catch without any mental worries," said Showalter, who refused to characterize Wieters' condition as a setback.

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Remember when Shane Victorino was a switch-hitter? And then he wasn't? But then, this winter, he decided to give it another try?

It appears the mercurial veteran has changed his mind yet again.

The Boston Red Sox outfielder decided Saturday to abort his latest attempt to hit from both sides of the plate, according to Ian Browne of MLB.com, and will hit only from the right side for the time being.

The 34-year-old hit exclusively from the right side of the plate throughout his abbreviated 2014 campaign after spending the majority of his career as a switch-hitter, but decided in February to return to switch-hitting for the upcoming season.

Victorino, however, continued to experience soreness on the left side of his body while hitting from the left side of the plate, prompting him to abandon the experiment.

Over parts of 11 seasons in the major leagues, Victorino owns a .250/.320/.398 line against right-handed pitching while hitting from the right side of the plate. Victorino, who will earn $13 million this season, is expected to open the season as Boston's regular right fielder.

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Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Maicer Izturis will undergo an MRI on Saturday after straining his groin during Friday's Grapefruit League game against the Tampa Bay Rays, but manager John Gibbons doesn't sound too optimistic about the forthcoming prognosis.

Though Izturis reported no change Saturday in his level of discomfort, Gibbons doesn't think the 34-year-old will be ready for Opening Day, according to Sportsnet's Barry Davis.

Should Izturis - who appeared in just 11 games in 2014 - be forced to open the season on the disabled list, Gibbons could install prospect Devon Travis at second base, at least temporarily. Acquired from the Detroit Tigers this offseason, Travis has impressed at the plate this spring, going 11-for-32 (.344) with four doubles and three walks through 13 games.

Travis has never played above the Double-A level, but the 24-year-old has certainly caught Gibbons' attention of late, managing a .538 batting average over his last four spring games.

"He's too good to be a platoon guy," Gibbons remarked Saturday.

Ryan Goins, an elite defender with a .531 OPS over parts of two seasons in the majors, should also receive consideration for playing time at second base if Izturis remains incapacitated.

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw needs more dental work after getting hit in the face by a line drive, but still is set to start on Opening Day.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Saturday that Kershaw had one tooth extracted and another one repaired.

Kershaw was struck by a soft liner off the bat off Oakland's Andy Parrino on Friday. The NL MVP and Cy Young Award fell in front of the mound, was examined by a trainer, threw a warmup pitch and stayed in the game.

Kershaw had dental work done Friday night.

The NL West champion Dodgers start the regular season on April 6 when they host San Diego.

Last edited on Sun Mar 22nd, 2015 09:48 am by lobo316

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The Los Angeles Dodgers will not start the season with a healthy five-man rotation.

Left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu encountered additional discomfort in his throwing shoulder during a side session Sunday and is being sent back to L.A. to consult with Dr. Neal ElAttrache, according to manager Don Mattingly.

Ryu first experienced tightness in his shoulder Wednesday, resulting in an inflammation-reducing injection. The shot has obviously proven ineffective, and now Ryu is likely to start the season on the disabled list.

Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi plans to fill the spot in the rotation internally. He's happy with the spring progressions of Joe Wieland, Carlos Frias and Mike Bolsinger who will compete for the final spot in the rotation alongside Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson.

Ryu, who went 14-7 with a 3.38 ERA in 26 starts for the Dodgers, also battled inflammation in his throwing shoulder last season.

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Some shocking news out of Colorado Rockies camp Sunday.

The team has granted right-hander Jhoulys Chacin his unconditional release.

The Rockies avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $5.5-million deal with Chacin in January, and are still on the hook for a portion of his salary.

The 27-year-old battled rotator cuff problems that limited him to only 11 starts last season. He went 1-7 with a 5.40 ERA over those outings and was trying to work his way back into the rotation this spring, but a dip in his velocity contributed to poor numbers.

The timing of the release is shocking as Chacin could have filled in for Jorge De La Rosa, who is battling a groin injury and questionable to start the team's home opener on April 10.

This could, however, boost top pitching prospect Jon Gray's chances of cracking the big league roster out of camp.

Chacin pitched six seasons in Colorado, posting a 38-48 record with a 3.78 ERA and 1.34 WHIP.

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Baltimore Orioles prospect Hunter Harvey will miss the next four-to-six weeks after a CT scan revealed a small fracture in his right fibula suffered Saturday when he took a comebacker off his ankle, general manager Dan Duquette told reporters.

Assigned to minor-league camp last week after appearing in three Grapefruit League games with the Orioles, the 20-year-old right-hander will be on crutches for the next month.

Selected with the 22nd pick of the 2013 draft, Harvey was recently ranked by Baseball America as the club's second-best prospect after posting a 3.18 ERA with a 29 percent strikeout rate over 87 2/3 innings in the Low-A South Atlantic League last season. Harvey, however, was shut down in July after an MRI revealed inflammation in his right elbow.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter noted, though, that Harvey's innings will be closely monitored this season as the 6-foot-3 hurler could be promoted to the major-league level at some point in 2015.

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After emerging over the last two seasons as one of baseball's elite relief pitchers, Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil will get to ply his trade in the ninth inning in 2015.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons confirmed Sunday that Cecil will open the season as the club's closer following the departure of Casey Janssen, who signed a one-year deal with the Washington Nationals during the offseason.

"You never know if a guy can do it, but he deserves the opportunity," Gibbons said of Cecil. "We think he can."

Though Cecil was expected to contend with Aaron Sanchez this spring for the ninth-inning job, the competition effectively ended last week when Sanchez was thrust into the rotation after Marcus Stroman suffered a season-ending knee injury. Cecil has yet to appear in a Grapefruit League contest this spring due to shoulder discomfort, but threw 15 pitches in a minor-league game Saturday without issue.

Cecil has limited ninth-inning experience on his résumé, but the 28-year-old has enjoyed immense success since becoming a full-time reliever in 2013. Only 20 relief pitchers have accrued more wins above replacement than Cecil over the last two seasons, while the bespectacled lefty managed a career-best 2.70 ERA with a 32.5 percent strikeout rate in 2014 – the 13th-best mark among qualified relievers.

YEAR  ERA+  FIP   WHIP  BB/9  SO/9
2013  147    2.88   1.10    3.4     10.4
2014  145    2.34   1.37    4.6     12.8

Cecil, a supplemental first-round pick in the 2007 draft, also managed to curtail the platoon splits that rendered him an ineffective starter, holding right-handed batters to a .569 OPS over 143 plate appearances last season.

Last edited on Mon Mar 23rd, 2015 04:23 pm by lobo316

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- New York Yankees prospect Jose Pirela sustained a concussion after crashing into the center-field wall on a play in the first inning that ended up an inside-the-park home run for the New York Mets' Juan Lagares.

Lagares' drive off CC Sabathia -- the left-hander's third pitch of the game Sunday -- was just out of Pirela's reach on the warning track. The center fielder's momentum carried him into the wall, where he appeared to crash face-first. Pirela then fell and hit the back of his head on the track. He tried sitting up but went onto his back.

Pirela, who complained of dizziness, was taken by ambulance from the complex to Tradition Medical Center, where a brain CT scan and a cervical MRI both came back negative and he was released from the hospital. But he does have a concussion, the Yankees tweeted. He will be out an indefinite period.

With manager Joe Girardi looking on earlier Sunday, a Yankees trainer examined Pirela, a versatile 25-year-old who has played several positions this spring. Pirela was able to walk and was helped into a golf cart.

"Obviously you're concerned when a player doesn't get up. He's having some tests run right now. I'm not sure how long it's going to take for him to get back, but he did not look good," Girardi said.

Girardi said he was able to talk to Yankees officials after hitting the wall but was "dizzy."

"He hit it pretty hard, so let's just see what the tests say," Girardi said.

Girardi was asked if Pirela, who was hitting .370 and had an outside shot to make the team, might be finished for the spring after Sunday's incident.

"You just don't know. Some guys respond quicker than others. You wouldn't think a second baseman has had a significant number [of concussions] like a catcher, so sometimes the response is quicker. We have to wait and see. I hope not," he said.

Before the game, Girardi said Pirela brought considerable value to the club.

"He provides excitement with his speed, and we're moving him all around. We think he could possibly help us in a lot of different spots," Girardi said. "That makes a player very valuable when he can play four or five different spots on a field. That flexibility is a great thing to have."

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to sign Cuban right-hander Pablo Millan Fernandez to an $8 million minor-league contract, according to Baseball America.

Fernandez, 25, was primarily a reliever in Cuba, where he had a 2.83 ERA with 36 strikeouts and 19 walks pitching for Holguin last season. The signing is exempt from penalties imposed on teams that exceed the international bonus pools.

The Dodgers have also continued to negotiate with the representative for Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, according to a source. Like the Fernandez deal, signing Olivera would not be subject to bonus-pool restrictions because of Olivera's professional experience and age; he is 29.

The Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics have also been linked to Olivera.

Fernandez, who figures to start his Dodgers career in the minor leagues, established residency in Haiti after leaving Cuba.

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Only two weeks remain until the New York Yankees open the regular season with a matinee against the Toronto Blue Jays in the Bronx, and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury still hasn't swung a bat or played catch since suffering an oblique strain March 15.

Though he remains somewhat incapacitated, Ellsbury is confident he'll be able to take the field April 6 at Yankee Stadium.

"I still feel good about that timetable,'' Ellsbury told reporters Monday. "Obviously I’ll talk to (manager) Joe (Girardi) when he gets back tomorrow, just sit back down with them. But as of right now, we’re heading in the right direction."

Ellsbury continues to receive treatment on his right oblique, but acknowledged that he won't be able to gauge his progress until he resumes baseball activities.

"I guess all I can tell is just how I feel each and every day,'' he said. "But until I swing a bat, until I throw, until I do really explosive stuff, that will be the real test."

Ellsbury, who has averaged 119 games per season since 2012, also conceded that his aggressive style of play makes him more susceptible to injury.

"Players who play hard, definitely you're going to get more nicks and bruises along the way," he said. "Basestealers in general are going to take a little more of a beating on their legs; being a center fielder, running. But that's my style of game. That's how I've always played. That's what the team expects out of me, is to go out there and play like that."

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Heath Bell tossed a perfect ninth inning to secure his first spring save for the Washington Nationals on Monday.

The 37-year-old wasn't exactly rewarded for his efforts, though, as the Nationals released Bell shortly after their 7-6 victory over the New York Yankees at Space Coast Stadium, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.

Bell, a three-time All-Star, signed a minor-league deal with Washington in December following a disastrous 2014 campaign in which he made just 13 appearances for the Tampa Bay Rays. Across seven spring appearances with the Nationals, though, he managed an ugly 5.68 ERA while issuing five walks over 6 1/3 innings.

Once considered among the game's premier closers, Bell has struggled in recent years to replicate the success he enjoyed earlier in his career. He fashioned a 7.27 ERA with a 1.85 WHIP with Tampa Bay last season, allowing 24 hits while yielding eight walks in 17 1/3 innings.

YEAR            ERA    WHIP   SO/9    HR/9
2004-2011    3.06    1.20    9.2       0.6
2012-2014    4.91    1.51    8.8       1.1

Last edited on Tue Mar 24th, 2015 04:57 pm by lobo316

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Over the last 15 years with the Philadelphia Phillies, veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins spent an inordinate amount of time trying to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Throughout his storied tenure in Philadelphia, Rollins took immense pleasure in defeating the Dodgers and especially relished his club's victories over Los Angeles in the 2008 and 2009 National League Championship Series.

Still, the California native admitted Monday he's enjoyed a newfound sense of freedom since his December trade to Los Angeles, where leadership responsibility won't necessarily fall upon him.

"I feel like I’m free to be myself without someone on my shoulder," Rollins told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. "Obviously, everyone has parameters and limits. You have to play within the boundaries. But when you’re a leader, rules are a little different for you. When you’re a superstar, rules are a little different. You’re held to a higher standard, which I love. But it brings added pressure. Which I love. But if someone buds, let ’em bud. Instead of trying to keep ’em within this framework. Just let ’em be who they are at that moment."

Rollins noted that the ethos of his new California locale is decidedly different from the one that pervades Philadelphia, a notoriously blue-collar city, and intimated that his exuberant personality is better suited to Los Angeles.

"The general area, the city [of Philadelphia] being blue-collar, it’s not conducive for a superstar," Rollins said. "You can be good, but you’ve got to be blue-collar along the way, keep your mouth shut, just go and work. Where obviously, this is LA. It’s almost like it’s OK to be more flamboyant. You kind of appreciate that the more you’re out there. Because LA loves a star."

Though Rollins may have occasionally felt stifled in Philadelphia, the 36-year-old still cherished his time with the Phillies and emphasized that his experiences with the club helped him improve as a professional.

"I loved playing there," he said. "There is no doubt about that. It made me who I am. Playing there — I don’t know — but it prepared me for this. This is so loose in comparison to Philly. I know how to go about my business. I know the boundaries. I won’t cross ‘em. I know what is on the other side isn’t good. But you like that feeling. I know what I can get away with. I know what I can’t get away with. Just because I can doesn’t mean I should. But I get to make that decision."

Rollins, who claimed the National League MVP award in 2007, is expected to hit leadoff for the Dodgers this season, the last of a four-year, $44-million extension he signed prior to the 2012 campaign.

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Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro could have a taker for Ryan Howard should he choose to eat the majority of the $60 million remaining on his deal.

Following a report last week that the Phillies were willing to retain $50 million of Howard's contract in a deal, the York Revolution of the Atlantic League have asked their fans to pony up and help raise $10 million in order to land the three-time All-Star.

York General Manager John Gibson issued the following statement:

If there are roughly 400,000 people living in York County, we only need $25 from each of them to have the funds necessary to put Ryan Howard in a Revolution uniform. Some dads might have to dock a kid’s allowance for a couple weeks, big deal.

Hoping the campaign will spread beyond the York area and statewide, the Revolution has lowered the donation amount they are asking for to $10. As a thank you, each fan who donates will be provided with two complimentary ticket vouchers to the Revolution’s Opening Night game at Santander Stadium in Downtown York, on Friday, April 24 against the Long Island Ducks at 6:30 p.m.

Should the Revolution fall short of the funds required to add Howard, the team has agreed to donate 83% of the funds raised to Penn-Mar Human Services, the presenting partner of the 2015 York Revolution season. Fitting, considering the Phillies are willing to pay 83% of Howard’s remaining owed salary, for him to play for someone else.

Howard, who finished with 23 home runs last season, would no doubt provide a boost to the York offense.

Make the deal, Ruben.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers are taking a chance on another Cuban.

Having already inked Yasiel Puig and Alex Guerrero​ in the last three years, the Dodgers reportedly agreed to a six-year, $62.5-million deal with infielder Hector Olivera, according to multiple reports. The agreement includes a $28-million signing bonus and is pending a physical.

The 29-year-old was expected to land a deal in the range of five-to-six years and upward of $50 million, and the Dodgers went above and beyond. The Atlanta Braves were said to be in the mix for Olivera but were not willing to offer him a six-year deal.

There were concerns about the health of Olivera's right elbow, with rumors surfacing earlier this month that he could have damage to the UCL that would require Tommy John surgery. The Dodgers requested a second MRI on his elbow two weeks ago and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports noted the plan is to assess Olivera's baseball condition and elbow.

Olivera gives the Dodgers some infield stability for the future as veterans Jimmy Rollins, Juan Uribe and Howie Kendrick each see their current deals expire at the conclusion of the season.

Where he fits in the 2015 roster remains in question.

It's unlikely Olivera unseats any of the incumbents, and the backup infielder role is likely occupied by Guerrero, who owns a clause in his contract that prevents the Dodgers from sending him to the minor leagues.

Olivera hit .316/.412/.474 over 273 plate appearances in his final season in Cuba's Serie Nacional.

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Brian Dozier's career year just landed him a $20-million raise.

Dozier and the Minnesota Twins announced Tuesday that they've reached an agreement on a new contract that buys out the second baseman's three years of arbitration and nets him a sizable increase for 2015.

The four-year deal is reportedly worth $20 million over the next four seasons.

YEAR    SALARY
2015   $2 million
2016   $3 million
2017   $6 million
2018   $9 million

Dozier, 27, is entering his final year of pre-arbitration and was slated to earn $590,000 after posting career highs last season in several offensive categories, including homers (23), stolen bases (21), OBP (.345) and OPS (.762). He's just the third player in franchise history with at least 20 homers, 20 steals and 100 runs scored in a season.

"I couldn't be more happier," Dozier said during Tuesday's press conference. "I want to play my entire career here."

The deal is team-friendly for the budget-conscious Twins, who secured their best offensive player at a fixed rate through the prime of his career. Dozier, meanwhile, gets a well-deserved raise after leading all second basemen in homers, runs and walks in 2014. The contract, which doesn't include option years, also allows Dozier to maintain his free-agent eligibility for the 2019 season.

Dozier, who was selected by the Twins in the eighth round of the 2009 draft, owns a career slash line of .241/.318/.397 with 47 homers over three seasons.

Last edited on Tue Mar 24th, 2015 10:49 pm by lobo316

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lobo316 wrote: Heath Bell tossed a perfect ninth inning to secure his first spring save for the Washington Nationals on Monday.

The 37-year-old wasn't exactly rewarded for his efforts, though, as the Nationals released Bell shortly after their 7-6 victory over the New York Yankees at Space Coast Stadium, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.

Bell, a three-time All-Star, signed a minor-league deal with Washington in December following a disastrous 2014 campaign in which he made just 13 appearances for the Tampa Bay Rays. Across seven spring appearances with the Nationals, though, he managed an ugly 5.68 ERA while issuing five walks over 6 1/3 innings.

Once considered among the game's premier closers, Bell has struggled in recent years to replicate the success he enjoyed earlier in his career. He fashioned a 7.27 ERA with a 1.85 WHIP with Tampa Bay last season, allowing 24 hits while yielding eight walks in 17 1/3 innings.

YEAR            ERA    WHIP   SO/9    HR/9
2004-2011    3.06    1.20    9.2       0.6
2012-2014    4.91    1.51    8.8       1.1


 

 

Shortly after recording his first save of the spring Monday afternoon at Space Coast Stadium, veteran reliever Heath Bell was released by theWashington Nationals.

Barely 24 hours later, the 37-year-old reliever ended his baseball career for good.

Bell, a three-time All-Star who collected 168 saves over parts of 11 seasons in the majors leagues, announced his retirement Tuesday before embarking on the longest leg of a three-day solo drive back to San Diego.

"My kids wanted me home," Bell told MLB.com's Corey Brock. "What's more important: my kids or the big leagues? I've already accomplished more than I ever dreamed of. Now it's time to help them accomplish their dreams."

During his halcyon days with the San Diego Padres, the paunchy right-hander was among the game's best closers, fashioning a 2.53 ERA (150 ERA+) with a 25.8 percent strikeout rate from 2007 to 2011. Bell, however, struggled in recent years, crafting an ugly 4.91 ERA over the last three seasons across forgettable stints with the Miami Marlins,Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays.

"I had so many good memories," Bell said. "Getting to the big leagues with the Mets, with the Padres in 2007, almost going to the playoffs, the great times with (Greg) Maddux, (Brian) GilesAdrian (Gonzalez),(Trevor Hoffman), David Wells. It's been a great ride."

"You know, (the Nationals) released me but I really believe I'm still walking away the way I wanted to walk away, for the right reasons," Bell said. "It's a really happy moment for me. I can say I'm a dad and I'm a husband. I can focus on that."

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A weak rotation just got weaker.

The Colorado Rockies are expected to be without Jorge De La Rosa to start the season, as the team's No.1 arm is dealing with a strained left groin.

"Other than playing catch right now, he's pretty much shut down," Rockies manager Walt Weiss told Nick Groke of the Denver Post.

De La Rosa had been dealing with discomfort throughout the spring and was removed from his start Friday in the third inning after re-aggravating the injury.

"It's starting to look that way," Weiss said when asked if the left-hander will start the season on the disabled list.

De La Rosa went 14-11 with a 4.10 ERA in 32 starts last season while striking out 139.

The Rockies, who finished last season with a league-worst 4.84 ERA, are already looking to fill a hole in the rotation after releasing Jhoulys Chacin on Sunday.

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The Tampa Bay Rays will honor the late Don Zimmer by retiring his No. 66 during a pregame ceremony at Tropicana Field on April 6 against the Baltimore Orioles.

This year marks baseball's first Opening Day without Zimmer since 1971. Zimmer, who either played, coached or managed for nine different organizations during his career, spent his most time (2004-2014) with the Rays, who hired him following an eight-year run with the New York Yankees.

"Don Zimmer enriched the lives of everyone in the Rays family, and he played a significant part in the growth of our organization," Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said in a statement released by the team. "Zim's presence has been a gift to the game of baseball, and his influence will be felt for years to come.

"It has been a true privilege of my stewardship of the Rays to have had Don as such an important part of our organization. It is with great pride that we honor him and the game by retiring his number."

Zimmer, who passed away June 4, 2014, will be the third person in franchise history to have their number retired above the left-field wall, joining Wade Boggs (No. 12) and Jackie Robinson (No. 42). Zimmer won six World Series rings and made the playoffs 19 times during his 66-year career.

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The thought of starting the season without closer Koji Uehara is becoming more of a reality for the Boston Red Sox.

"With each passing day he's not in a game, there's growing concern of, 'will he be ready for April 6?'" manager John Farrell told Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. "We're just working through that."

Uehara suffered a minor hamstring strain while running last week, though he has been long tossing from flat ground.

Following the injury, the right-hander said he wouldn't need to go on a rehab assignment before jumping back into the bullpen. However, Farrell appears inclined to let him see some hitters before using him in a game.

"It's important to see him in games, to evaluate the stuff, and for Koji himself to understand what he has in the moment and what he goes to the mound with from a physical standpoint," Farrell said.

Uehara, who agreed to a two-year, $18-million extension in October, posted a 2.52 ERA and 26 saves in 64 appearances last season.

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Colby Rasmus hasn't played left field since 2009, his first season in the major leagues, but the 28-year-old hasn't had too much trouble acclimating to the unfamiliar position through the first few weeks of spring training with the Houston Astros.

"I feel all right out there," Rasmus told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. "I feel pretty comfortable. I'm kind of trying to take it easy and not try to, I guess, overdo it. I guess I'm playing a little cautious. It's still early, and I don't want to overdo it by trying to make things happen that aren't there. I'm trying to kind of learn it and take it slow, but I feel good so far."

Rasmus signed a one-year, $8-million deal with Houston this winter after three-plus seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, and will likely vacillate between left and center field - his natural position - with the Astros in 2015.

"If that's what A.J. thinks will help us win, I'm fine with moving back and forth on days, or whatever he wants to do matchup-wise," Rasmus said. "I don't have a problem with it. When I get out there, I'm just going to play hard. We all make mistakes. My goal is if I do make mistakes, not dwell on it and get back out there and make the next one."

Jake Marisnick, however, appears likely to receive the majority of the starts in center field, at least to begin the season. Rasmus, incidentally, regressed defensively in center field last season, managing a career-worst -7 defensive runs saved with an ugly -9.1 Ultimate Zone Rating over 87 games at the position.

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Major League Baseball has opened an investigation into gambling allegations involving Miami Marlins pitcher Jarred Cosart, a league official confirmed Wednesday.

Pat Courtney, MLB's chief communications officer, told the Miami New Times the league is looking into accusations that surfaced over Twitter on Tuesday alleging Cosart participated in acts of gambling. It's unclear whether those allegations involve betting on baseball games.

The claims first appeared around 9 p.m. ET, when a user named @GhostFadeKillah tweeted out this screenshot of a direct message apparently sent from Cosart's account:

Lol @JarredCosart pic.twitter.com/GfMd4s7i7j

— Ghostfade Killah (@ghostfadekillah) March 25, 2015
Within hours of the tweet, Cosart reportedly deleted his Twitter account. The News Times updated its story Wednesday to reflect an apparent series of tweets sent from a new account claiming to belong to Cosart. It was no longer active minutes after posting these three tweets:

"Around two weeks ago, my Twitter account was accessed by someone else," the first tweet read. "They began to send incriminating DMs to a number of accounts (1/3) ...

" ... to make it appear that I am addicted to gambling & have bet on baseball. I did not realize that this was happening until last evening. (2/3)

"There will likely be more "screenshots" released in the coming days. I have not, nor will I ever, bet on the game of baseball."

The Marlins have since released a statement, according to Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald.

"Major League Baseball is aware and they are investigating it," Marlins spokesperson Matt Roebuck said, "and we have no further comment at this time."

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The New York Yankees continue to be the beacon of financial success in Major League Baseball.

The Bronx Bombers have topped Forbes' list of most valuable franchises for an 18th consecutive year. Forbes released the list Wednesday, which revealed that the Yankees generated an estimated $508 million in revenue last season during Derek Jeter's farewell tour.

Here's a look at the five most valuable franchises:

TEAM        VALUE  ($ MIL)    1-YR VALUE CHANGE (%)            REVENUE ($MIL)
Yankees    3200                    28                                                     508
Dodgers    2400                    20                                                     403
Red Sox    2100                    40                                                     370
Giants       2000                  100                                                     387
Cubs         1800                    50                                                      302


Forbes lists the overall average team value at $1.2 billion, an increase of 48 percent from last year.

The Tampa Bay Rays are considered the least valuable club, generating $188 million in revenue in 2014.

Last edited on Wed Mar 25th, 2015 10:56 pm by lobo316

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TAMPA, Fla. - New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler has had Tommy John surgery, which is expected to sidelined him until June 2016.

The Mets said team medical director Dr. David Altchek operated in New York on Wednesday to reconstruct the 24-year-old right-hander's ulnar collateral ligament and repair the flexor pronator tendon.

Wheeler was 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA and 187 strikeouts last year, when he threw a career-high and team-leading 185 1/3 innings. The Mets have since admitted that Wheeler pitched through tendinitis and discomfort, while reports also say he suffered a torn tendon during the season.

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How Alex Rodriguez and his surgically repaired hips perform over 162 games is anyone's guess, but this much is clear: He's already exceeding his own expectations.

Rodriguez, who famously said prior to arriving in camp that he's fighting for a roster spot this spring, continues to impress New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman in his comeback bid from hip surgery and a season-long suspension.

So much so that Cashman believes Rodriguez is worthy of a starting spot in the lineup on Opening Day.

''We'll talk about all these things, but the way he's looked so far, I'd definitely say he's pushed himself into full-time DH consideration,'' Cashman said before Wednesday's game against the New York Mets. ''He's done well. A lot of life in his bat.''

The 39-year-old is 8-for-28 (.286) this spring with a double and two homers across 12 games. He's received the majority of his playing time at DH and third base, but manager Joe Girardi expects him to see some action at first before the Yankees open their season at home against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 6.

"If you have an injury, if something happens, then it's good to have," Girardi said Tuesday. "We're not asking him to go out there every day, but just to have somewhat of an understanding of the position."

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Pittsburgh Pirates superstar Andrew McCutchen teased a big surprise Wednesday morning that turned out to be quite the shocker: He's no longer sporting his trademark dreadlocks.

Ladies and gentlemen we present...@TheCUTCH22 & the new do. pic.twitter.com/il5Rh43LMF
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) March 25, 2015
McCutchen made the big reveal on Twitter, where the 2013 NL MVP posted a video he described as the start of new beginnings. 

The Pirates center fielder said each lock will be auctioned off on MLB.com with the proceeds going to charity. Check it out:

 


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