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2016 - 2017 MLB Off-Season  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Thu Mar 30th, 2017 02:40 am
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DUNEDIN, Fla. - New York Yankees prospect Aaron Judge could begin the season in the minors so he can play more.

Judge and Aaron Hicks are competing for the starting job in right field in New York.

''He needs to play, that's the bottom line,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday about Judge. ''When you look at Aaron Judge, you don't want him to sit (on the bench).''

Judge broke into the majors last year and hit .179 with four homers and 10 RBIs in 27 games. There could be enough at-bats for Judge if the Yankees go with a platoon situation in right.

''Can't worry about that,'' Judge said. ''If I go to Double-A, High-A, it doesn't matter. I'll go out there, play baseball and have fun, and everything will work out the way it's supposed to.''

The 6-foot-7, 282-pound Judge has big-time power, while Hicks is considered the better defensive player.

''They both played very well,'' Girardi said. ''It's a tough decision.''

Decisions on right field and the fourth rotation spot could come Thursday.

Luis Severino, a favorite since camp began for the fourth spot in the rotation, faces Philadelphia on Thursday.

''We have an idea of what we're going to do with him for the most part,'' Girardi said.

The fifth starter is not expected to be named before the regular season begins. The Yankees won't need him until April 16.

Jordan Montgomery, who has just six Triple-A starts, finished off a strong exhibition season by allowing one run over five innings in Wednesday's 3-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. The left-hander has become a serious contender for the fifth slot.

''He's definitely in the conversion,'' Girardi said.

Girardi said neither Severino or Montgomery will be used out of the bullpen.

New York opens the regular season Sunday at Tampa Bay.

Girardi also said shortstop Didi Gregorius, expected to be out until sometime in May, is doing exercises, but won't resume any baseball activities for another five to six days. The Yankees are looking at Pete Kozma to possibly join Ronald Torreyes as replacements for Gregorius.

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 Posted: Thu Mar 30th, 2017 08:36 pm
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Few active players have a better Hall of Fame case than Ichiro Suzuki, and the Miami Marlins' outfielder said, "The way I feel, how I'm thinking, I feel like nothing can stop me (from playing into my 50's)," according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.

The 43-year-old Ichiro is in the last year of what turned out to be a two-year, $4-million deal with the Marlins after the team picked up his $2-million option for 2017. It will be interesting to see whether a team is prepared to take a chance on a 44-year-old player next offseason. While Bartolo Colon signed with the Atlanta Braves this offseason in what will be his age-44 season, a hitter that old hasn't played since Omar Vizquel played 60 games for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012 at 45 years old.

Ichiro's translator, Allen Turner, said, "There's nobody in the world that takes more swings over the course of a year than (Ichiro). Guaranteed."

Noting his translator's presumed bias, it's still worth mentioning that Ichiro's conditioning and work ethic is renowned.

"Physically, unless you have some kind of injury," Ichiro told Spencer, "you don't really need a break." He added, "when you retire from baseball, you have until the day you die to rest." Asked what he will do when the day to retire finally comes: "I think I'll just die," Ichiro responded.

Ichiro added an impressive career milestone in August by becoming just the 30th player in MLB history to collect his 3,000th hit with a triple against the Colorado Rockies. Going into the 2017 season, Ichiro sits 24th on the all-time hits list, just 23 behind Rod Carew.

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 Posted: Thu Mar 30th, 2017 08:37 pm
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The Colorado Rockies completed a $200-million deal with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District on Wednesday to remain at Coors Field for the next three decades, Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports.

The Rockies' current 22-year lease with Coors Field was set to expire on March 30. The negotiation, which spokesman for the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District Matt Sugar described as "strong and long," was finalized just one day before the previous lease's expiration.

Included in the deal, the Rockies will be allowed to "lease and develop a valuable plot of land directly south of the stadium." The Rockies will pay the District $125 million for the privilege, making the actual lease agreement for Coors Field worth $75 million - or $2.5 million per year.

The 50,398-seat venue is the most infamous hitter's haven in all of baseball, thanks primarily to the thin, mile-high air of Denver.

Coors Field, which officially opened its doors in April of 1995, will be over five decades old by the time the new lease expires.

Just the Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, and Boston Red Sox play in 50-year-old stadiums. With the Athletics looking at moving, and the Cubs undergoing serious restorations, it will be interesting to see how Coors Field holds up.

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 Posted: Thu Mar 30th, 2017 08:39 pm
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The Los Angeles Dodgers have set their rotation in advance of Monday's Opening Day contest against the San Diego Padres, and skipper Dave Roberts has picked Brandon McCarthy for the last spot while sending Alex Wood to the bullpen.

Despite filling the final hole in the rotation, McCarthy will start ahead of fifth-starter Hyun Jin Ryu.

Ryu, who is coming back from a series of injuries that held him almost completely out of the 2015 and 2016 seasons, is likely headed for the fifth spot out of caution. Furthermore, putting Ryu last in the rotation allows Roberts to stagger his right- and left-handed starters.

The 33-year-old McCarthy started four spring games, allowing seven earned runs on 14 hits and one walk over 13 innings. The right-hander seemed especially susceptible to the long ball in the spring, giving up three homers.

Wood didn't pitch much better though, allowing nine earned runs on 20 hits and three walks over 17 1/3 innings. The 26-year-old left-hander was particularly poor in his last spring start, though, which may have weighed more on Roberts.

On Tuesday against the Cincinnati Reds, Wood surrendered five earned runs on 11 hits over six innings.

Another point against Wood may have been the fact he would make the Dodgers' rotation especially lefty-heavy. If Wood beat McCarthy for the last rotation spot, the Dodgers' only right-handed starter going into the season would have been Kenta Maeda.

With McCarthy in the rotation to begin the year, the Dodgers have likely put themselves in a better position for the eventual call-up of 20-year-old phenom, Julio Urias.

Another left-hander, Urias has already been optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City but won't stay there long. With two right-handed starters in the rotation to begin the year, Urias can slide in a lot easier once Roberts has him on the big-league roster.

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 Posted: Thu Mar 30th, 2017 08:40 pm
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Another Boston Red Sox left-hander is ailing, and the regular season hasn't even started yet.

Drew Pomeranz was placed on the 10-day disabled list Thursday with a left forearm flexor strain, according to Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. This would keep him tentatively available to make his first projected start on April 9 against the Detroit Tigers, which pitching coach Carl Willis told Britton "is not out of the question."

Due to the possibility of Pomeranz making the start in Detroit, the Red Sox have not announced a replacement in the rotation. Red Sox manager John Farrell said Pomeranz will first pitch in a minor-league game on April 3, Ian Browne of MLB.com reports.

Pomeranz was sidelined early in spring training with triceps tightness, and otherwise struggled though his Grapefruit League appearances. Over 12 innings, Pomeranz accrued an 8.25 ERA and 1.75 WHIP, allowing three home runs in the process. He also issued seven walks.

The Red Sox are already poised to be without lefty David Price for an extended period of time, though Pomeranz's injury troubles may come as less of a surprise.

He has regularly missed time throughout his career, and the trade that brought him to Boston for pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza could have been reversed because of undisclosed injuries, but the Red Sox declined.

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 Posted: Thu Mar 30th, 2017 08:40 pm
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After a hotly contested battle between the powerful Aaron Judge and the defensively gifted Aaron Hicks during spring training, the New York Yankees have made their decision ahead of Opening Day.

Manager Joe Girardi announced Thursday that Judge won the competition and will enter the season as the Yankees' starting right fielder, while Hicks will be on the roster as the fourth outfielder, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.

Judge secured the spot with a strong spring, slashing .345/.406/.569 with three home runs and six RBIs in 58 at-bats.

The 24-year-old rookie - who was ranked as the No. 4 prospect in the Yankees' system according to MLB Pipeline - appeared in 27 games for the club in 2016, striking out 42 times in 84 at-bats.

Girardi also named 23-year-old right-hander Luis Severino as the team's fourth starter, with competition for the fifth spot expected to continue in the minors. Meanwhile, Ronald Torreyes will slot in as the Yankees' Opening Day shortstop, replacing the injured Didi Gregorius.

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 Posted: Thu Mar 30th, 2017 08:42 pm
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Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila continues to rid the club of underperforming veterans this spring - despite millions remaining on their contracts.

Mike Pelfrey is the most recent cut from the roster, as the Tigers gave the right-hander his unconditional release Thursday.

"I maybe kind of knew it was coming a little bit," Pelfrey said, according to Evan Woodbery of Michigan Live. "When they told me, I just apologized that I put them in that situation to make that decision."

The 33-year-old agreed to a two-year, $16-million contract prior to last season, and is still owed $8 million.

After going 4-10 with a 5.07 ERA and 1.73 WHIP across 119 innings in 2016, Pelfrey's struggles continued this spring. He posted a 7.94 ERA and 1.76 WHIP across 17 innings and failed to crack the club's rotation.

On Sunday, Avila released struggling right-handed reliever Mark Lowe, who is owed $5 million this season. Lowe agreed to his deal with the Tigers two days after Pelfrey signed in December 2015.

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 Posted: Thu Mar 30th, 2017 08:43 pm
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Kolten Wong's desire to be traded rather than be part of a platoon didn't sit well with St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak.

"I think his comments were a little tough given the fact we have other players playing well," Mozeliak said, according to Mark Saxon of ESPN. "Starting Sunday, we're playing to win. Whenever a player is trying to accomplish something in spring training, that can't be an excuse for why things aren't going well."

Wong said earlier this week that he would "100 percent" rather be traded than not be an everyday player for the Cardinals, and didn't understand why the club inked him to a five-year, $22-million extension last March if he wasn't going to be St. Louis' everyday second baseman.

The comments came in response to skipper Mike Matheny's acknowledgement over the weekend that both Jedd Gyorko and Greg Garcia could see time at the position, as Wong had struggled throughout the spring. He's hitting .192/.276/.288 with 11 strikeouts in 19 games.

"Overall, we've had a very positive camp, and I certainly don't want someone's comments to bring us down," Mozeliak said.

Shortly after Wong made his thoughts public, he backtracked, saying that he wants to remain a Cardinal.

"My play speaks for itself and what kind of player I can be. I want to be that player for the Cardinals," he said. "If the worst-case scenario comes down, I understand there are a lot of good guys on this team right now. If it's my time to get moved, it's my time to get moved. But at the end of the day, I want to be a Cardinal."

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 Posted: Thu Mar 30th, 2017 08:46 pm
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The Washington Nationals have named right-handed pitcher Blake Treinen their closer to start the 2017 season, according to Mark Zuckerman of MASN Sports. He beat out fellow righties Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover for the role.

Nationals manager Dusty Baker announced the decision Thursday morning. Treinen gets the job despite throwing only 4 2/3 innings this spring, although he has yet to allow a run or a walk, and has struck out eight batters.

Glover was rumored to be in the mix, but Baker said his lack of experience was a detriment. Baker was positive that Glover would make the Opening Day roster, however, saying "Oh, hell yeah," when asked about it. The 23-year-old made his MLB debut in 2016, tossing only 19 2/3 innings with a 5.03 ERA.

Kelley temporarily took over for previous Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon in 2016. He's also been impressive this spring, allowing only one run in 6 1/3 innings.

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 Posted: Fri Mar 31st, 2017 03:06 am
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Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano recently opened up about the fact that he contemplated suicide following the death of his newborn daughter just over two years ago.

"I was lost in the world, and there was this temptation to harm myself," Sano told Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today. Sano's daugther, Angelica, died just a week after she was born in November of 2014 because of a heart defect.

Sano was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery at the time, and flew home to the Dominican Republic to be with his family - including its newest member.

When Sano returned to Fort Myers to resume his rehab, his mother called to inform him Angelica had died. Later that December, Sano got a tattoo on his right forearm which reads "R.I.P. Angelica."

Sano has a five-month-old son named Dylan Miguel, but he apparently will still "mournfully look at photos of his daugther, while at the same time reminding himself to stay strong for his wife, Daniela."

Now more than two years removed from his family tragedy and his arm surgery, the 23-year-old infielder is set for his first full season at third base.

While the tragedy had an affect on his mental health, Sano seems to be using the upcoming season as a motivating factor. Relegated to right-field duties at the beginning of the 2016 season, Sano has made improvements and "always wanted to be an infielder," according to Twins manager Paul Molitor.

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 Posted: Fri Mar 31st, 2017 03:07 am
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During the San Francisco Giants' World Series run in 2010 - which would eventually be followed by two more championships for the franchise, in 2012 and '14 - Aubrey Huff was an offensive catalyst and locker room leader for the club, but during that successful season he was apparently hiding something.

The former MLB player, who last played in the big leagues in 2012, was using Adderall, which he opened up about to ESPN's Buster Olney in a recent interview about his newly released book, "Baseball Junkie."

"I think at the end of the 2010 World - we win the World Series in 2010 (with the San Francisco Giants), I was seventh in the league in MVP voting, leader in the clubhouse, offensively I carried the team," he explained to Olney. "You know, I was having a great year, one of the best years I’ve ever had obviously with winning the World Series. The next morning I woke up next to my wife after we won the World Series, and I looked her dead in the eye and I go, ‘Huh. Now what?’ It was a feeling - I was coming down from my Adderall - it was a feeling of worthlessness and emptiness because I worked my whole life to win a World Series, but I felt so empty and so ashamed.

"So I went through that whole 2010 playing under the influence. … I think in a lot of ways, Adderall is more potent than any steroid you can take because, as you know, baseball is a game of mental toughness, and Adderall gets into your head and makes you feel invincible."

Huff's struggles with Adderall apparently took a major turn for the worse in 2014 when he contemplated suicide.

"In 2014, I found myself in my closet, on my knees, with a .357 Magnum, hammer pulled back, staring at myself in the mirror," he told Olney when asked what his low point with addiction was. "... I was ready to pull the trigger. This was a low-low point in my life. I had hit rock bottom at that moment."

Huff went on to explain he was first given Adderall by a Baltimore Orioles teammate in 2009 to cope with a hangover, which he said stemmed from his daily use of alcohol.

"I just popped it naturally and within 30 minutes ... it was a feeling of euphoria that I had never felt in all my life," Huff said. "I knew right then and there I was going to take this stuff the rest of my career."

The 40-year-old Huff later admitted his Adderall addiction also led to a gambling addiction, and nearly ended his marriage.

He told Olney he's been clean of Adderall since 2012, but has had to deal with multiple issues surrounding depression and anxiety, although his head is currently feeling the clearest it has been for some time.

Over the course of his 13 seasons in the show, Huff hit 242 home runs and recorded an OPS of .806.

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 Posted: Fri Mar 31st, 2017 03:10 am
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When right-hander Matt Shoemaker takes the mound for the Los Angeles Angels during the upcoming regular season, he'll look exactly the same on the hill, except for one subtle, but important difference.

The 30-year-old will be wearing a protective insert inside his cap after he was struck on the right side of his head by a line drive last season, which resulted in emergency brain surgery.

After experimenting with a number of options, the hurler told Outside the Lines he decided on the Safer Sports Technologies Pro Performance carbon-fiber head guard, according to ESPN.

The head guard insert slides into the cap's sweatband and weighs just 1.7 ounces.

"It's comfortable to the point that I don't know it's there," Shoemaker explained.

Houston Astros pitcher Collin McHugh has worn the same head protection for several seasons and was the first one to tell Shoemaker about the product.

Shoemaker is among several candidates on the Angels staff who could start Opening Day after he struck out 21 in 17 innings during the spring.

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 Posted: Fri Mar 31st, 2017 03:11 am
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ARLINGTON, Texas - Second baseman Rougned Odor and the Texas Rangers have agreed to a new six-year contract that includes a club option for 2023.

The team announced the deal Thursday and planned a news conference later in the day.

At 23, Odor is already going into his fourth season with the Rangers. He hit .271 with 33 home runs and 88 RBIs last year, when he also became known to many when he punched Toronto slugger Jose Bautista during a game May 15 in the finale of a contentious series. Odor served a seven-game suspension for that.

Odor was the youngest player in the majors when he made his Rangers debut in May 2014. He has hit .265 with 58 homers and 197 RBIs in his career.

He played for Venezuela this spring in the World Baseball Classic.

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 Posted: Fri Mar 31st, 2017 03:12 am
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lobo316 wrote: ARLINGTON, Texas - Second baseman Rougned Odor and the Texas Rangers have agreed to a new six-year contract that includes a club option for 2023.

The team announced the deal Thursday and planned a news conference later in the day.

At 23, Odor is already going into his fourth season with the Rangers. He hit .271 with 33 home runs and 88 RBIs last year, when he also became known to many when he punched Toronto slugger Jose Bautista during a game May 15 in the finale of a contentious series. Odor served a seven-game suspension for that.

Odor was the youngest player in the majors when he made his Rangers debut in May 2014. He has hit .265 with 58 homers and 197 RBIs in his career.

He played for Venezuela this spring in the World Baseball Classic.





Rougned Odor wouldn't talk extension with the Texas Rangers until they would very literally pony up with the offer.
As part of Odor's six-year extension, officially announced Thursday, the second baseman will also receive two elite horses, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Odor raises horses in his spare time.
In a press conference Thursday, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told reporters they "sealed it with a couple of horses."
These are in fact the horses that sealed the Odor deal. This is not a joke pic.twitter.com/O0Ka03RXRb
— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) March 30, 2017
Presumably, offers failing to include the equine portion of the agreement were met with a resounding neigh from Odor's party. It is, however, unlikely to curb horseplay around the clubhouse.
The 23-year-old Venezuelan broke out huge in 2016, hitting 33 home runs and 33 doubles in 150 games, leading to the Rangers locking him up through his arbitration years. He was set to be eligible for free agency in 2021, and his new contract keeps him with Texas through 2023 should they exercise a team option.

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 Posted: Fri Mar 31st, 2017 08:08 pm
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Rob Manfred isn't holding his breath about Major League Baseball in Montreal, but he isn't saying no.

Following a report Wednesday that a group of investors had satisfied the league's conditions to bring a team back to the city, Manfred revealed Thursday the idea of a resurgence in Montreal has weighed on his mind.

"We've thought about Montreal a lot. We've had conversations with potential owners. The mayor of Montreal, I think, could be fairly characterized as a rabid baseball fan," Manfred said on CBS Sports Radio's "Tiki and Tierney" show. "I'm not closed to the idea that we could return to Montreal - again, in the event that we get to relocation or expansion. I’m certainly open to that idea.

"But obviously the issues, largely facility issues, that led to the Expos leaving would have to be addressed before we’d be comfortable returning."

The Expos played in Montreal for 35 years before uprooting in 2004 to Washington D.C. where they became the Nationals. As Manfred alludes, however, the franchise's final seasons were plagued by mismanagement as the club failed to find funding for a new ballpark, leading to the league taking over the franchise outright in 2002 and then playing some home games in Puerto Rico in 2003.

Baseball fans in Montreal will get another taste of big-league action this weekend, as the Toronto Blue Jays and Pittsburgh Pirates will visit the city to begin a two-game series Friday at Olympic Stadium.

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