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2016 - 2017 MLB Off-Season  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Sun Mar 19th, 2017 12:44 am
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lobo316



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Tim Tebow isn't going down without a fight.

The much-discussed former NFL quarterback turned professional baseball player has been playing with the New York Mets major-league squad for the past several games, and while his stop was supposed to be brief, Tebow hasn't worn out his welcome as of yet.

Manager Terry Collins, who initially said Tebow would be sent back down to the minors, has apparently reconsidered the move, saying the 29-year-old may remain with the big club - for now.

"He's worked very hard, not only in the minor leagues, but with our guys over here," Collins said, according to Abbey Mastracco of NJ.com. "And that's what we're here for, we're here to help him get better.

"We'll try to get him over a few more times, I don't know how many more it's going to be, but I think he'll get a lot out of playing here and being around these guys at this level to see what it is to be a big league player. He can hopefully carry that into where he will start the year."

Saturday marked the second time Collins said he wouldn't have Tebow penciled in the starting lineup for Grapefruit League games and changed his mind ahead of game time.

The Mets' flip-flopping on Tebow follows a recent run of success at the plate, as the former Heisman Trophy winner has combined for three hits in his past two games, including a pair of fine defensive plays in the outfield.

Tebow's extended stay with the Mets is largely due to the World Baseball Classic, as many regular major-league players are attending the tournament.

In 17 at-bats, Tebow has four hits but has also struck out five times.

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 Posted: Sun Mar 19th, 2017 12:49 am
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lobo316



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The Dominican Republic will be without slugger Jose Bautista for its must-win game against the United States on Saturday.

Dominican manager Tony Pena told Mary Rivera of ESPN that Bautista is dealing with slight back stiffness. Gregory Polanco will start in place of Bautista in left field, while Starling Marte will serve as the club's center fielder.

Team Dominican Republic lineup pic.twitter.com/nfwDSmKNnC

— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 19, 2017
It's been an impressive tournament for Bautista, who is hitting .333/.435/.500 with one home run and five RBIs while playing in every one of the Dominican's five games. He also made a game-saving play at the plate in the first round when he threw out what would have been the winning run in the ninth inning against Colombia.

The reigning champion Dominican Republic needs to beat the United States in order to advance to the semifinals.

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 Posted: Sun Mar 19th, 2017 12:52 am
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lobo316



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The Baltimore Orioles are inching closer to having starting pitcher Chris Tillman available for game action, but he still won't be ready for the start of the season. Tillman received a cortisone shot earlier this week and is scheduled to start a long-toss program Wednesday, Rich Dubroff of MLB.com reports.

The 28-year-old right-hander has not appeared in a spring training game, but his expected extended absence has not come as a surprise to Orioles manager Buck Showalter. He suffered setbacks postponing his last bullpen session.

"I've been planning since Chris had some trouble last time," Showalter said. "I wasn't counting on him, anyway. All my plans have been without him there for April."

Showalter and the Orioles have a schedule for Tillman in place, including five planned rehab starts. They're being cautious with him to ensure he's ready to pitch through to the end of the season, so missing a few April starts is not a huge concern for the Baltimore skipper.

Tillman, though, wants to take the mound as soon as possible.

"It's frustrating for him, especially when you're talking about a guy who's been an Opening Day starter for us. He knows what he means to the club. Never have I had a feeling that anything's crept in there as far as his (free-agent) status at the start of the season," Showalter said.

Tillman, a free agent at season's end, has been a workhorse for the Orioles, starting at least 30 games in four consecutive seasons. He went 16-6 with a 3.77 ERA in 172 innings in 2016. His injury will break his streak of three straight seasons as the Orioles' Opening Day starter.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 20th, 2017 01:15 am
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Jason Kipnis' recovery timetable may be longer than what Cleveland Indians fans wanted to hear.

Ailing from shoulder inflammation that has shut down the second baseman for the majority of spring training, the Indians announced Sunday they believe Kipnis is still four-to-five weeks away from appearing in a major-league game, courtesy of MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.

Kipnis was originally shut down for two weeks on March 12, jeopardizing the possibility he would be ready for Opening Day. After getting a second opinion from Dr. Keith Meister on Friday, however, the Indians may be without Kipnis for the entire month of April.

The 29-year-old is expected to resume hitting and throwing programs in one week's time, according to the team.

In 156 games in 2016, Kipnis slashed .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs for Cleveland.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 20th, 2017 01:16 am
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The Cleveland Indians will be without Cody Anderson for the entire 2017 season, as the 26-year-old right-hander has opted to undergo Tommy John surgery after getting a second opinion on his wonky ulnar collateral ligament, the team announced Sunday.

In November, shortly after the Indians coughed up a 3-1 lead in the World Series, Anderson underwent surgery to repair an impingement in the back of his elbow joint, but he complained of renewed discomfort in early March and was diagnosed with a sprained UCL after being sent for an MRI.

Anderson posted a 6.68 ERA in 60 2/3 innings with Cleveland in 2016, getting relegated to the bullpen after eight brutal starts over the first couple months of the season, and was expected to provide rotation depth at Triple-A Columbus to open the campaign.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 20th, 2017 01:18 am
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Jeremy Hellickson will kick off the regular season on the mound for his second consecutive Opening Day with the Philadelphia Phillies, as the club has tabbed the right-hander to start against the Cincinnati Reds, according to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly.

While not exactly a surprising choice, the Phillies weren't short of potential candidates for the April 3 nod, including touted youngsters Aaron Nola and Vince Velasquez. Hellickson, though, is the Phillies' top starter on paper, and is expected to lead the rotation again for 2017. The 29-year-old crafted a 3.71 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 32 starts last season with Philadelphia.

He signed a $17.2-million qualifying offer to return to Philadelphia in the offseason.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 20th, 2017 01:20 am
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The Atlanta Braves are sending a familiar face to the mound for Opening Day.

For the fourth consecutive season, the Braves will roll with right-hander Julio Teheran as their Opening Day starter, the team announced Sunday. Teheran will likely square off against New York Mets fireballer Noah Syndergaard.

According to the Braves, only two other pitchers have started four straight Opening Days for the club: Rick Mahler, from 1985-88, and Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, from 1993-96.

Teheran made 30 starts for Atlanta last season, posting a 3.21 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 188 innings.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 20th, 2017 05:02 pm
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If Team Netherlands is finally going to win the World Baseball Classic, it will have to do so without one of its biggest stars in the tournament's final round.

Shortstop Didi Gregorius has left the national team and returned to the New York Yankees' camp with a right shoulder injury, Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced Monday, according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.

Girardi revealed that Gregorius suffered a hematoma of the subcapsular muscle in his right shoulder, and said the 27-year-old will undergo further testing Tuesday.

"It's obviously not what you want to hear, but hopefully it's something short," Girardi told Randy Miller of NJ.com. "But again, we have not seen him. The evaluation from the doctor was his strength was really good. But we've got to see him.

"We'll keep our fingers crossed that it's not much."

Gregorius had been one of the Netherlands' best hitters in an infield filled with major-league stars. The Amsterdam native slashed .385/.652/.348 with five extra-base hits, eight RBIs, and five runs scored across six games in the first two rounds while splitting time between shortstop and DH. He reportedly felt some pain in his shoulder during the Dutch side's exhibition game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday, according to Newsday's Anthony Rieber.

Candidates to take over at shortstop should Gregorius not be ready for Opening Day include backup Ronald Torreyes and minor-league free-agent signing Ruben Tejada - both of whom have several years of big-league experience - as well as prospect Tyler Wade, who's had an impressive spring to date.

In his second season with the Yankees in 2016, Gregorius hit .276/.304/.447 over 153 games and reached career highs in home runs (20) and doubles (32).

The Dutch will square off with Puerto Rico in the first WBC semifinal Monday night at Dodger Stadium.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 20th, 2017 11:06 pm
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Tim Tebow's time with the New York Mets' major-league side is officially coming to an end. For real this time.

After constantly changing their mind regarding the former NFL quarterback, the Mets revealed Monday that Tebow will open the upcoming season in Single-A with the Columbia Fireflies in the South Atlantic League.

"Sending him to a full season club is what we hoped to be able to do," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told Marc Carig of Newsday on Monday. "And based on what he’s done in spring training, and his whole body of work since last fall, we feel comfortable with him going to Columbia."

After signing a minor-league deal with the Mets last season, the club assigned the 29-year-old to the Arizona Fall League where he mustered a .194/.296/.242 slash line in 62 at-bats, but the Fireflies look excited to have his name in their locker room for the upcoming campaign:

pic.twitter.com/XfeRNEO3Pa

— Columbia Fireflies (@ColaFireflies) March 20, 2017
This spring, Tebow recorded just four hits in 18 plate appearances while with the big-league side, though Alderson was satisfied with his performance both at the plate and in the outfield.

"He's obviously very athletic and he has adapted very quickly," Alderson said, according to Carig. "His approach at the plate is very solid. He doesn't chase pitches. People might say his swing is a little long but the swing is professional. When he's made contact, it's often been hard contact ... Defensively, it's still a work in progress but it's adequate. He's made some nice plays, again demonstrating the athleticism that everybody's seen he has."

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 Posted: Mon Mar 20th, 2017 11:07 pm
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The Chicago White Sox are looking to lock down part of its middle infield by extending shortstop Tim Anderson, as a source confirmed the sides are discussing a multi-year commitment to Scott Merkin of MLB.com.

Extending a promising young player before reaching free agency is nothing new for the White Sox. Chicago extended Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, and Jose Quintana to multi-year deals over the past three preseasons. Anderson could be 2017's edition.

Both Sale and Eaton have since been traded - and Quintana has been mentioned in trade rumors - but the 23-year-old infielder seems poised to be part of the White Sox's rebuilding efforts. He will likely be paired with second baseman Yoan Moncada to form a young core up the middle.

Anderson didn't play in any of the White Sox's weekend games, though manager Rick Renteria confirmed it was due to a personal matter and not an injury.

In his rookie campaign in 2016, Anderson hit .283 with nine home runs and 10 stolen bases in 99 games with the White Sox.

The White Sox declined comment.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 20th, 2017 11:08 pm
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At times last season, the Boston Red Sox had more arms in their rotation than they knew what to do with.

Now, they may not even have five healthy starters.

After Drew Pomeranz's triceps tightness Sunday added a new concern to a rotation that may already be without David Price to begin the 2017 season, Red Sox manager John Farrell revealed Monday the team is continuing to scour the market for some needed starting pitching depth.

"That’s ongoing," Farrell told Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald.

Boston's rotation currently looks to be spearheaded by reigning Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, followed by December's blockbuster acquisition, Chris Sale. After Price, Eduardo Rodriguez and knuckleballer Steven Wright are expected to round out the bottom half of the pitching corps, while Pomeranz, who was still attempting to return to 100-percent health after receiving a stem-cell injection in October, was expected to slot in as the occasional sixth starter before his setback.

Due to their predicament, Farrell may have to rely on minor-league signee Kyle Kendrick as a depth starter from time to time, despite the veteran not having pitched in MLB since 2015, though Farrell admits he would've liked to see the Red Sox add another arm like the 32-year-old.

"Ideally, but I know every effort was made to try to sign that type of pitcher," he told Mastrodonato. "That tells you the demand for pitching around baseball. We were able to have one type of starter like this in Kendrick."

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 Posted: Tue Mar 21st, 2017 09:53 pm
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The rebuilding Chicago White Sox have locked up one of the biggest pieces of their future in record-setting fashion.

The South Siders officially announced the signing of shortstop Tim Anderson to a six-year, $25-million contract extension on Tuesday. The deal also includes a pair of option years valued at $12.5 million and $14 million respectively, according to Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago; if exercised, they'd keep Anderson in a White Sox uniform through 2024, covering his first two years of free agency.

Anderson's contract is now the largest ever given to a player with less than 100 days of big-league service time, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, surpassing the guaranteed $20-million deal Chris Archer signed with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2014.

Anderson, a first-round pick (17th overall) of the White Sox in the 2013 draft, blitzed through the club's farm system and made his big-league debut June 10 of last year. The 23-year-old immediately became the White Sox starting shortstop; in just 431 big-league plate appearances he hit .283/.306/.432 with nine homers, 30 RBIs, 22 doubles, and 10 stolen bases - numbers good enough for a seventh-place finish in AL Rookie of the Year voting. He also proved to be defensively sound at shortstop, compiling 10.8 defensive WAR and six defensive runs saved.

Despite his solid entrance to the majors, Anderson did show a proclivity for striking out in his rookie year, doing so 117 times while taking just 13 walks. That made him only the 13th player in the modern era to strike out over 100 times and walk less than 15 in a season with at least 400 plate appearances.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 21st, 2017 09:53 pm
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The Toronto Blue Jays reportedly agreed to a two-year extension with manager John Gibbons that includes an option for 2020, a source told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 21st, 2017 09:54 pm
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The New York Yankees won't have Didi Gregorius in their lineup Opening Day, as the 27-year-old shortstop has been diagnosed with a right shoulder strain and will be shut down from baseball activity for the next two weeks, manager Joe Girardi told Andrew Marchand of ESPN on Tuesday.

Gregorius, who suffered a hematoma of the subscapularis muscle in his shoulder while representing the Netherlands at the World Baseball Classic, could even be out until May, general manager Brian Cashman added, potentially creating a huge void in the Yankees' middle infield for the first month of the regular season.

"They are shooting for probably six weeks total," Cashman said. "That's a guesstimate, so don't hold me to it.".

In Gregorius' absence, the Yankees could have Starlin Castro temporarily shift back to shortstop, his old position, after spending the last year-plus at second base, though the club will also have Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade, and Ruben Tejada take some reps at shortstop before camp breaks.

"That's a big loss," Girardi told Kevin Kernan and George A. King III from the New York Post as the Yankees awaited the results of the MRI that Gregorius underwent Monday in Tampa. "We saw the strides he took last year."

In 2016, his second season in the Bronx, Gregorius enjoyed a breakout campaign offensively, setting career highs in OPS (.751), home runs (20), doubles (32), and stolen bases (seven) while managing 2.7 WAR in 153 games.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 21st, 2017 09:55 pm
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The Minnesota Twins have granted veteran pitcher Ryan Vogelsong his unconditional release from the club.

Vogelsong had spoken with Twins manager Paul Molitor earlier Tuesday to discuss his role with the team, according to MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger, though he requested to be released following the discussion.

A 12-year veteran, Vogelsong had previously split time in the majors between the San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates. The 39-year-old hurler was auditioning for a bullpen role with the Twins, though he's also made 179 starts in his career. He owns a 4.41 ERA in the rotation as well as a 4.81 ERA in 110 relief appearances.

Vogelsong had signed a minor-league deal with Minnesota in January.

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