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Thread: Cnotes MLB 2019 Spring Traning News Notes and Rumors !

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    Injured All-Star SS Lindor arrives
    February 14, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) Injured shortstop Francisco Lindor arrived at the Cleveland Indians spring training complex Thursday, exactly six weeks before their season opener.

    The three-time All-Star strained his right calf while working out recently in Florida. The team said last week the injury would keep one of baseball's best all-around players out seven to nine weeks. He won't be on the field for the start of camp.

    Manager Terry Francona said that he's ''betting on the under'' of that timetable because the 25-year-old shortstop is in good shape and works hard.

    Francona said there are no plans to slide third baseman Carlos Santana to shortstop, even though he has played 109 games at that position. Among the options are Yu Chang, Mike Freeman and Max Moroff.

    Lindor avoided salary arbitration last month by agreeing to a $10.55 million contract for 2019.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Cueto has been pitching with elbow pain
    February 14, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) For nearly three years, Johnny Cueto pitched with a stabbing pain in his right elbow. He won 18 games for San Francisco in 2016 and started the All-Star game that year dealing with the discomfort.

    How he did so, Cueto isn't sure. And the animated right-hander can now envision how great it will be once he's back on the mound and pain-free following Tommy John reconstructive surgery.

    ''It was a lot for me to deal with. It was almost three years with pain in the elbow, and strong pain,'' said Cueto, who turns 33 on Friday. ''It's not easy. Last year I started well, but it's a mental pain, it's a pain that felt like someone stuck a knife in my elbow and stabbed it over and over again. It was unbearable and I don't know how I was able to pitch and block the pain.''

    Cueto arrived in Arizona a couple of days behind the Giants pitchers and catchers because of personal reasons and had his physical Thursday. He is scheduled to throw next week for the first time since his August operation.

    The Giants' rotation was plagued by injuries for a second straight year in 2018 with Cueto, ace lefty Madison Bumgarner and right-hander Jeff Samardzija all missing significant time.

    Cueto is down about 20 pounds to 226 thanks to regular meals of salad and fish. Yet he expects to be back at 230 or more once he's ready to return - hopefully before season's end around Sept. 1, to which Cueto noted, ''If that's the case I'll be very happy.''

    ''We would love to see Johnny start. That means we probably are sitting in a pretty good position,'' manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday following a successful workout after one rainstorm, before it began pouring again. ''But we're not going to do something that doesn't make sense with our medical staff and where he's at. Because you get through that then you have another offseason to really heal up. We'll see where he's at when we get to August.''

    Cueto acknowledged he will let the experts guide him when it comes to a timeline and taking each important step along the way to come back.

    ''Right now I feel like I'm ready but I know I'm not,'' he said. ''My frustration was at the beginning when I couldn't move the arm to take a shower, but right now I feel normal and like any other pitcher. I know what my problem is. The only thing I have to do is take it easy and continue with my rehab.''

    He begins the fourth season of a $130 million, six-year contract he signed before the 2016 season.

    Cueto did his offseason rehab back home in the Dominican Republic, where one of his half-dozen horses, Popeye, just died.

    He made 25 starts in 2017 then just nine with 53 innings last year before surgery. On Friday, he plans to throw a plastic ball against a trampoline-like screen.

    When appropriate, he will embrace the chance to mentor the young pitchers, particularly those from Latin America who look up to Cueto's example in training and his accomplishments on the mound.

    ''I feel really good. I'm working out and conditioning,'' Cueto said. ''I'm working hard to return strong to help my team. ... I just want to make sure that my rehab is coming along well, that's my main concern right now.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Mets' deGrom weighs options, seeks deal
    February 14, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) Just a few hours after Jacob deGrom threw his first practice pitch of spring training, the NL Cy Young Award winner let everyone know the score.

    He hasn't received a long-term contract offer from the New York Mets and isn't sure he will before opening day.

    ''I honestly have no clue. There hasn't really been many talks,'' deGrom said Thursday. ''But that can change in one phone call. I just don't really know.''

    The 30-year-old deGrom is set to make $17 million this season and is under club control through 2020. If he doesn't get a new deal this spring, however, he didn't rule out limiting his 2019 workload to protect his personal future.

    It's an idea that was floated by his agent, Jeff Berry of CAA, in a recent memo to major leaguers during a second consecutive slow free-agent market. If teams are so hesitant to sign accomplished veterans because they come with wear and tear, maybe players should take measures themselves to assure they stay fresh.

    ''I think that's going to be a discussion that's going to have to be had with my agents,'' deGrom said, wearing a blue and orange Mets cap following the club's first scheduled workout for pitchers and catchers. ''I'm going to have to sit down with them and really see what they think is best for me moving forward.

    ''You play this game `cause you love it and then, you know, you have an opportunity to look out for your family and your future. So I think, just, you have to see what's right for you to do.''

    Adding to it all is the bizarre fact that new Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen was deGrom's agent with CAA before switching sides at the bargaining table last fall.

    Van Wagenen insisted he's not worried about deGrom taking a seat to save his arm.

    ''I don't anticipate any concerns,'' Van Wagenen said. ''We want to protect Jacob deGrom as much as Jacob deGrom and as much as his agents want to protect him because he matters to us not just during the regular season but his impact is even more important for us in October. So, as far as managing workloads with or without an extension, we're going to make sure that the player's health is considered.''

    The developing saga has already commanded much of the attention as the new-look Mets open camp with an improved roster and playoff aspirations. Teammates have spoken out in support of the humble deGrom getting financially rewarded for his consistent excellence on the mound, and the sides set an opening-day deadline for striking a deal so talks don't create a distraction during the season.

    New York opens up March 28 in Washington, and manager Mickey Callaway drew laughs from reporters when - unprovoked - he made a point to announce deGrom (quite obviously) would get the ball.

    If no contract agreement is reached by then, discussions could always resume next offseason. As of now, at least

    ''There's been plenty of conversations but no offers exchanged,'' Van Wagenen said. ''I have no doubt that the two sides will know each other's positions, if nothing else, by the end of camp, and hopefully we'll be on the same page.''

    It was Van Wagenen - on the pitcher's behalf - who suggested last July the organization should consider trading deGrom if it wasn't planning to commit to him long-term.

    ''That was just I think him trying to get something moving,'' deGrom said with a sheepish smile. ''We had heard the possibility of us talking and it's never gotten anywhere. So, I think it was just trying to get the ball rolling and seeing what was happening and seeing if I was in this team's future plans and not just right now.''

    A two-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom reiterated how much he loves playing in New York and wants to stay. He's made it clear he's interested in signing a multiyear contract now rather than testing free agency.

    Of course, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and his father, owner Fred Wilpon, would be the ones approving any lucrative deal.

    So what are the Mets waiting for?

    ''Jacob is 100 percent a part of our future now and hopefully for years to come,'' Van Wagenen said. ''Offers and contract negotiations can be complicated processes. It needs to have analysis done on the club side, it needs to have analysis done on the player's side. We are still going through our considerations on the club side and once we have those done, we'll obviously communicate some of that information to the player and his agent.''

    Last month, deGrom and the Mets agreed to a $17 million, one-year contract to avoid arbitration - a raise of $9.6 million over his 2018 salary.

    ''I think first and foremost we wanted to get the arbitration, one-year number resolved,'' Van Wagenen said. ''You never want to create contention between players and the team they play for, so that was a real priority for us.

    ''That goodwill hopefully now is shifting over to the next phase of our process,'' he added. ''Everybody knows that Jacob deGrom is great. Everybody knows that Jacob deGrom deserves to be handsomely rewarded for his performance.''

    After leading the majors with a 1.70 ERA in 217 innings last year, deGrom was a runaway winner in NL Cy Young Award balloting. He went just 10-9 with 269 strikeouts in 32 starts, receiving little support from a fourth-place team that finished 77-85.

    ''I think that Jacob's season last year, we're probably never going to see anything like it again in our lifetime,'' Callaway said.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Brewers open spring with familiar faces
    February 14, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    PHOENIX (AP) It didn't take long for the Milwaukee Brewers to start enjoying the benefits of a $60 million renovation to their spring training facility.

    As rain fell in Phoenix on Thursday, Milwaukee's pitchers and catchers headed out to new covered mounds for the first official bullpen session of the spring.

    ''It's awesome,'' Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. ''It's absolutely remarkable.''

    The upgrade is one of the few things that's new for the Brewers as they begin their quest to defend their National League Central Division title. With few exceptions - most notably catcher Yasmani Grandal - the players in the new clubhouse Thursday morning were the same ones who left the home clubhouse at Miller Park wondering what might have been after a Game 7 loss to the Dodgers in the NLCS.

    Still, Counsell was quick to point out that while last year was special, it's a new year with new challenges and goals.

    ''This team - underline `this' - hasn't accomplished anything yet,'' Counsell said. ''This is a new team and we kind of have to make our own tracks here.''

    That will include new roles for some of Milwaukee's returning players.

    Erik Kratz will open camp third on the catching depth chart behind Grandal and Manny Pina, leaving him likely to open the regular season in Triple-A. It's a difficult situation for someone who contributed down the stretch as much as Kratz did, but Counsell was confident the 39-year-old journeyman could handle the challenge.

    ''He's seen a lot, he understands a lot and he's capable of handling a lot,'' Counsell said. ''That's why he's still going strong at age 39 - because he's able to adapt.''

    Right-hander Junior Guerra will get stretched out during camp but appears headed for a bullpen role once the season begins. Guerra lost his spot in the rotation after allowing four runs over three innings of a 9-4 victory over the Nationals on Sept. 2 but closed the season strong, throwing six scoreless innings of relief and another 4 2/3 scoreless innings in the postseason.

    Nearly everybody reported to camp healthy and ready to go. Left-hander Brent Suter, recovering from Tommy John surgery, is Milwaukee's only unavailable player at this point, while right-hander Jimmy Nelson is set to throw his first official bullpen session Friday and infield prospect Mauricio Dubon is as close to full strength as possible after tearing his ACL last May.

    ''We're in a really healthy spot,'' Counsell said. ''So far, so good.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Rays praise success of their openers
    February 14, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) The Tampa Bay Rays offer a simple response to critics of the team's creative use of openers to fill out their pitching rotation.

    It works.

    And, they plan to do it again this season, when they expect to contend for a playoff berth after winning more games in 2018 than any major league club that didn't make the postseason.

    ''At the end of the day, our motives are to win games and put our players in the best position that we believe possible to help us accomplish that. ... That will continue to be our guide,'' senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager Erik Neander said.

    ''We're going to do what we feel is best for our organization and our players,'' Neander added. ''If that leads to winning games, that makes everybody happy.''

    The Rays are coming off a turnaround season in which they won 90 games, in part because of the successful use of relievers to open games on days manager Kevin Cash elected to not begin with a traditional starter.

    An opener generally faced three to nine batters, depending on matchups - primarily with a goal of getting the first three to six outs of a game.

    Cash also used ''bullpen days'' - outings started by relievers who usually worked deeper into games - when necessary after injuries and a series of salary-slashing moves left Tampa Bay without a customary five-man rotation.

    ''We're going to have very similar plans as to what we did last year,'' Cash said, citing depth and versatility as biggest strengths of not only a mostly young pitching staff led by 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, but of the entire roster.

    ''We have a lot of guys who can play different roles, that can hit in different parts of the lineup,'' Cash added. ''And we showed last year we've got a pretty special pitching staff that can pitch in different parts of the ballgame, and we're going to utilize that again.''

    The Rays, who reported to spring training this week with a projected season-opening rotation of Snell, Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow, used traditional starters 84 times last season.

    Openers took the ball first 55 times, with Tampa Bay going 32-23 in those games. The remaining 23 starts were filled with bullpen days.

    ''We have a young roster. They're willing to do, I think, whatever is asked of them and trust,'' Neander said.

    ''At the end of the day, I appreciate the trust they have in (Cash) and the staff to put them in the best position to succeed,'' the GM added. ''We saw what's possible when you have that in place.''

    Other big league teams have taken notice of Tampa Bay's success and have explored variations of the concept.

    The Rays have been the target of some criticism, too,

    While the club notes the approach to using the bullpen has contributed to the development of young pitchers such Ryne Stanek, Ryan Yarbrough, Yonny Chirinos and Jalen Beeks, skeptics argue the concept devalues the role of traditional starters and also can undermine a pitcher's earning potential.

    Cash reiterated that a big part of Tampa Bay's success was the willingness of veterans, as well as younger players, to buy in to the concept that made its debut May 19.

    From that point on, Rays pitchers had the third-best ERA (3.50) in the majors behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (3.19) and Houston Astros (3.39).

    ''We certainly value our players quite a bit. And looking at what some of these guys did, whether it was the opener or the bullpen guys who followed them, they all had pretty special seasons,'' Cash said.

    ''All those guys bought in, and we're going to need that again,'' the manager said. ''But I also think they really valued and cherished winning games. And that helped us win games.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    SIZE=4]Armadillo: Friday's six-pack[/SIZE]

    — Hofstra 99, Charleston 95— Pride is 12-1, has a 2-game lead in CAA.

    — Furman 67, NC-Greensboro 57— Spartans fall two games behind Wofford in SoCon.

    — Gonzaga 73, LMU 60— Lions played well, played their hearts out, but lost by 13.

    — Utah 83, Arizona 76— Parker Van Dyke was 7-10 behind the arc.

    — Murray State 73, Austin Peay 71— Governors’ tying hoop was split-second after the buzzer.

    — Omaha 85, South Dakota State 84— Mavericks hit a contested baseline jumper at the buzzer for the win.


    **********

    Armadillo: Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here…..

    13) In the first 7.5 months of legalized sports gambling in New Jersey, a total of $1.63B was wagered; how much did those people also spend on restaurants/shopping while they were out gambling in the Garden State? It is time for New York State to wake up and legalize sports wagering.

    12) 76ers are a combined 1-7 against Toronto, Milwaukee and the Celtics, which doesn’t bode well for the Eastern Conference playoffs this spring.

    11) Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl odds before the Flacco trade: 60-1
    Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl odds after the Flacco trade: 60-1

    The guy who is the head of the Westgate SuperBook is a Broncos’ fan, by the way.

    10) Saw a video on Twitter the other day of a woman throwing a chair off a 45th story balcony along a busy downtown Toronto street; now that woman is facing charges, She is charged with mischief endangering life, mischief endangering property and common nuisance.

    I’m watching this video and thinking “Why would someone do this?” Luckily, no one got hurt; if there had been a car accident and someone died, thats criminally negligent homicide, right?

    9) Golfer Matt Kuchar apparently paid his caddy $5,000 during his win at the Mayakoba Classic last fall, where he won $1.3M. Thats a 0.38% tip. Not good.

    Going rate for caddies is 10% if the player wins, which obviously would be $130,000.

    The caddy is not Kuchar’s normal caddy; he offered the guy an additional $15,000 later on, which the caddy (for some reason) turned down.

    Weird story that basically makes Kuchar look like a cheap bastard.

    8) Lot of times, I rattle on in this space about things I think should happen, and it is just me typing stuff that has no chance of ever happening, but every once in a while……..

    Late last month, the San Diego Padres informed MLB that starting in 2020, they’ll have new uniforms, and those uniforms’ main colors will be brown and gold!!!!!

    This is excellent, the Padres returning to their Nate Colbert/Randy Jones roots, when they had very cool uniforms. Can’t wait to see them.

    7) Donald Trump played golf with Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods couple weeks ago after not having left Washington since Thanksgiving; you know he had to have been practicing golf somewhere. Least surprising news ever: There is a golf simulator in the White House, where you can play simulated “rounds” on courses all over the world.

    The new $50,000 simulator replaced an older one that President Obama used in the White House. Stressful job, the president needs an outlet to release his frustrations, and just to have fun with.

    6) San Francisco Giants signed Gerardo Parra to a minor-league deal, which could be a signal that they’re out of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, seeing how Parra is a lefty-hitting OF, just like Harper.

    5) Oregon Ducks’ football team fired DC Jim Leavitt this week; he was making $1.75M after Willie Taggart wanted to bring him to Florida State, but Oregon boosters were mad at Taggart because he used one of their planes to fly to a job interview with FSU, so they overpaid Leavitt to prevent him from going to the Seminoles.

    4) Mississippi State DT Jeffery Simmons, projected to be a top 15-pick in the NFL Draft, suffered a knee injury during training that is thought to be a torn ACL. Simmons was already not invited to the NFL Combine; he was seen on video in 2016 striking a woman.

    3) Utah’s great point guard John Stockton missed a total of 22 games in his entire 19-year career, so I’m guessing he didn’t need “maintenance days” when the Jazz had games on consecutive nights.

    2) Unusual fact that annoys me a little; I pay for the NBA Full Court package, so I can see every NBA game live, but when games are re-broadcast late at night, those games get blacked out on the local cable channels, except for Knicks/Nets and anything on NBA TV. Since I’m paying a decent amount of money, shouldn’t I be able to watch those replays?

    I do not have the NHL package, but their late night replays aren’t blacked out, I can watch any of those games I want to- it makes no sense. Too bad I like basketball better than hockey.

    1) Last three NFL teams who appeared on HBO’s Hard Knocks went a combined 16-31-1 that season; all three of those coaches have been fired, two during the season where they were on Hard Knocks. Of course, those two coaches were also breaking in rookie QB’s that year.

    This year, looks like the final five are: Lions, Redskins, Raiders, Giants, 49ers. We’ll be seeing a lot of one of those teams next summer on HBO, and I’m guessing they’re saving the Raiders for 2020, when they move to Las Vegas.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Reliever Sergio Romo, Giants finalize $2.5M, 1-year contract
    February 15, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    MIAMI (AP) - Right-hander Sergio Romo and the Miami Marlins have finalized a one-year contract that guarantees the reliever $2.5 million.

    Romo can earn an additional $250,000 in performance bonuses for games finished as part of the deal announced Friday: $50,000 each for 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 games finished.

    The 35-year-old was 3-4 with a 4.14 ERA last year for Tampa Bay with 25 saves in 33 chances.

    Romo was an All-Star in 2013 for San Francisco and helped the Giants to World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

    He has a 2.86 career ERA in 638 relief appearances and five starts during 11 major league seasons.

    To open a roster spot, the Marlins put right-hander Julian Fernandez on the 60-day injured list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery,
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    AP source: Severino, Yanks agree to $40M, 4-year contract
    February 15, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    NEW YORK (AP) A person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press that right-hander Luis Severino avoided an arbitration hearing with the New York Yankees, agreeing to a $40 million, four-year contract.

    Severino's deal includes a team option for 2023 that could make the deal worth $52.25 million for five seasons. If the option is not exercised, Severino would be eligible for free agency after the 2022 season.

    The person spoke Friday on condition of anonymity because the agreement is subject to a successful physical.

    Severino gets a $2 million signing bonus, $4 million in 2019, $10 million in 2020 and $10.5 million in 2021 and $11 million in 2022. The team option is for $15 million with a $2.75 million buyout.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Francisco Liriano hopes return to Pirates sparks turnaround
    February 15, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) Francisco Liriano had a handful of offers during free agency that were basically the same. Teams wanted him to come to spring training on a minor league contract.

    Realizing he was not getting a major league deal, he returned to the team where he had his best run during his 13-year career. The 35-year-old left-hander agreed to terms with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Feb. 4, one week before spring training.

    In a three seasons between 2013 and 2015, Liriano was a combined 35-25 with a 3.26 ERA in 86 starts. He was the winning pitcher in the 2013 NL wild-card game - the Pirates' first postseason appearance since 1992 - when he limited Cincinnati to one run in seven innings.

    ''To be honest, that's one of the best games I remember,'' Liriano said before pitchers and catchers worked out Friday. ''I have a lot of good memories in Pittsburgh. Hopefully, it will continue this year, too. Hopefully, we can make the playoffs. You never know. You've got to go out there and play and give it everything you have.''

    Liriano didn't have much to offer the Detroit Tigers last season, going 5-12 with a 4.58 ERA in 27 games, all but one a start. He believes reuniting with manager Clint Hurdle and pitching coach Ray Searage can help get him back on track.

    ''The coaches here know me and saw me when I was at my best,'' Liriano said.

    Liriano might have a different role if he makes the team. The Pirates need left-handed relief help, and he profiles as a potential bullpen option.

    Liriano can still handle left-handed batters, limiting them to a .170 batting average and .516 OPS in 98 plate appearances last season. Opponents also batted just .221 with a .635 OPS against Liriano the first time through the order.

    The Pirates haven't ruled out Liriano as a starter. But four of the five spots are already accounted for and there are already three others who will compete for the No. 5 job - lefty Steven Brault and right-handers Nick Kingham and Jordan Lyles.

    If added to the 40-man roster, Liriano would have a $1.8 million salary while in the major leagues and $150,000 while in the minors. He could earn up to $1.5 million in performance bonuses based on a points system in which he would get one point for an appearance of less than two innings or an appearance without a game finished, two for an appearance of at least two innings or a game finished and three for an appearance of three points for an appearance of four innings or more, two for an appearance of at least four innings.

    He would get $125,000 each for 30 and 35 points, $150,000 apiece for 40, 45, 50, 55, 60 and 65, and $175,000 each for 70 and 75.

    ''I think I can do both starting and relieving, as far as spring training,'' Liriano said. ''We'll see how they want me to pitch and talk to them. I'm willing to do both. Whatever it takes.''

    The Pirates traded Liriano to the Toronto Blue Jays during the 2016 season after he struggled to a 6-11 record and 5.41 ERA in 21 starts. Now Pittsburgh might beckon again.

    ''Baseball is crazy,'' he said. ''You never know.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Athletics sign outfielder Robbie Grossman
    February 15, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    MESA, Ariz. (AP) The Oakland Athletics signed outfielder Robbie Grossman to a one-year, $2 million contract Friday.

    To make room for Grossman on the 40-man roster, right-hander Daniel Gossett was placed on the 60-day injured list.

    Grossman spent the last three seasons with the Twins. He batted .273 with five home runs and 48 RBIs last season.

    The Athletics also signed infielder Cliff Pennington to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.

    Pennington returns to the A's, where he began his big league career in 2008. He has compiled a .242 batting average in 11 seasons with the A's, Diamondbacks, Angels, Reds and Blue Jays.

    Gossett appeared in five games for the A's last year before undergoing Tommy John reconstruction surgery Aug. 1. He went 0-3 with a 5.18 ERA.
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    Infielder Solarte receives minor league contract from Giants
    February 15, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Switch-hitting, versatile infielder Yangervis Solarte has reached agreement on a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants.

    He will provide infield depth for manager Bruce Bochy. Solarte played every infield position last season for the Blue Jays, making 83 starts at third base and 28 at second.

    San Francisco dealt with significant injuries to first baseman Brandon Belt, second baseman Joe Panik and third baseman Pablo Sandoval last season and all missed extended time. Sandoval is recovering from August surgery to repair a torn right hamstring, while Belt has had repeated concussions and underwent season-ending right knee surgery in September.

    The 31-year-old Solarte batted .226 with 17 home runs and 54 RBIs in 122 games last season for Toronto. He played in the NL West the previous three-plus years with the Padres.
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    Angels add another two-way player for spring training
    February 16, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) The Los Angeles Angels seem intent on cornering the market on two-way players.

    Shohei Ohtani won AL Rookie of the Year last season as a pitcher and designated hitter. Now they're taking a look at Jared Walsh, a combination left-handed reliever-first baseman-outfielder.

    ''I'm just trying to keep it simple,'' said Walsh, a non-roster invitee to the Angels' camp. ''Just hit, just pitch and have fun, be a baseball player, really.''

    Manager Brad Ausmus saw Walsh's versatility firsthand last season in a minor league game. Ausmus, then a special assistant to Angels general manager Billy Eppler, was watching the Triple-A Salt Lake team. Walsh started at first base, then came in to get the final out to close the game, which was one of the left-hander's four pitching appearances for the minor league team.

    ''I got lucky,'' Walsh said of his outing. ''I hung a curveball and the guy popped it up to center and didn't hit it in the trees.''

    He had started as a two-way player in college at Georgia and the Angels talked to him in September about continuing his double duty this spring. Walsh jumped at the chance.

    Ohtani, currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, is a starter, while Walsh pitches in relief so the workload will be different.

    ''He's a front-line starter and I'm certainly not that,'' Walsh said. ''I don't have any blueprint per se because I've never done this before. I think the demands on him were more taxing than me for sure.

    ''He's the trendsetter,'' Walsh said. ''I'm just following his lead.''

    The plan, Ausmus said, is to have Walsh pitch, play first base and get some work in the outfield as well this spring.

    ''We feel he has a chance to do both at the major league level, especially with the season he had offensively,'' Ausmus said. ''It'll be a balance and a little easier balance because it's a relief role, especially in spring training where everything is kind of controlled but he's going to do both.''

    Walsh batted .277 with 29 home runs and 99 RBIs at three different minor league levels combined last season, including a .270 average at Salt Lake.

    Both Ausmus and Walsh expect to see more teams develop players who can multi-task.

    ''Not everybody is going to be as good as Ohtani,'' Walsh said, ''but if you can get value out of a player who can do both, I mean, he might not be a Cy Young award winner or a triple crown winner but at the same time you're getting value out of the player. I definitely think as long as they can come up with a good plan to keep the players healthy, it's something we'll see more of in the future.''

    The Rays have minor leaguer Brendan McKay, who reached the high Class A level as a first baseman and left-handed pitcher. Matt Davidson, now with the Rangers, also was considering doing both.

    ''Usually you talk about versatility in terms of playing a bunch of different positions,'' Ausmus said. ''Now, if you can play positions and pitch, now it's the ultimate versatility.''

    Walsh is willing to try.

    ''I don't think I'm any sort of a trailblazer,'' Walsh said. ''I think if you can get value out of a player who can do a little bit of both, why not give it a try?''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Braves open spring confident as East champs
    February 16, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) Atlanta Braves pitchers and catchers had their first organized workout Saturday, officially ending a relatively quiet winter for the team that won the NL East.

    It may have been a little too quiet for some critics, considering the aggressive roster moves made by their division rivals. But All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman begs to differ.

    ''Pretty much everyone came back, and we added Josh Donaldson and B-Mac (Brian McCann),'' Freeman said. ''I feel we have a 90-win team that got better, so I think we're going to be very good this year.''

    Darren O'Day was the other major winter acquisition, adding veteran depth to a bullpen that was tested last season as the Braves won the division by eight games and qualified for the postseason for the first time in five years.

    ''We've kind of gotten to the point where there's not a lot of holes, maybe one starter, and we'll take the best eight (relievers) with us north,'' said Brian Snitker, who won the NL Manager of the Year award. ''We used 33 pitchers last year. Ten guys made their debuts. We've got a long time to be down here and to sort things out. But you've got to like the depth and what we have.''

    The first priority will be finding a fifth starter behind Mike Foltynewicz, Julio Teheran, Sean Newcomb and Kevin Gausman.

    Mike Soroka, a 21-year-old right-hander who went 2-1 in five starts before shoulder pain ended his rookie season in June, is one of the leading candidates to fill the No. 5 spot.

    ''It's the moment I've been thinking about for months now, I guess since we made the decision to shut it down last year,'' said Soroka, who will not be limited this spring. ''I'm coming in ready to compete for a spot and make the team better. I know it's kind of a marathon, not a 100-meter race.''

    All of the starters are 28 or younger.

    ''Whoever has the ball that day is the ace. I truly believe everybody on this team feels that way,'' said Gausman, who went 5-3 in 10 starts after being traded from Baltimore. ''It's good, healthy competition between all of us, and seeing these young guys motivates us, too.''

    O'Day joins a bullpen that includes seven pitchers who appeared in at least 35 games for the Braves last year, plus veteran left-hander Jonny Venters, who pitched in 28 games after being acquired in late July.

    ''We don't need to look anywhere else to fill the eight bullpen spots,'' Snitker said. ''You start with eight healthy guys to take north and try to put your best foot forward, but things happen and you're going to need a bunch of `em.''

    In spite of all the noise made by their division foes, Freeman defends the Braves' decision not to add a starter.

    ''We're good,'' he said. ''You've already got four starters and then you've got dynamic young guys for the fifth spot. I'm sure some of those will go into the bullpen because that's a big part of the game now.''

    NOTES: SS Dansby Swanson, who had surgery on his left wrist in November, is in camp. ''He's obviously going to be behind a little bit,'' Snitker said, ''but I think he's going to have plenty of time.'' . . . The first full-squad workout it scheduled for Thursday . . . The Braves will play their first exhibition game Feb. 23 at Port St. Lucie against the New York Mets.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Ichiro with M's and chance to play at home
    February 16, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Ichiro Suzuki fluidly went through a variety of stretches on the floor in the Seattle Mariners clubhouse even before going onto the field. Once outside, he smoothly went through fielding, hitting and baserunning drills.

    At 45 and in spring training again, Suzuki is working toward the chance to play for his original major league team in his home country.

    ''Being able to put on the Seattle Mariners uniform as a player, being here the first day, it is just amazing, it is great,'' Suzuki said through a translator. ''Very satisfied with today and how it went, and I'm just going to take it day by day.''

    The former MVP and 10-time All-Star outfielder is in camp on a minor league deal after serving in a special assistant's role most of last year when he still worked out with the team. If he's healthy, Suzuki will be part of the Mariners' expanded 28-player roster next month for their season-opening two games in Tokyo against Oakland.

    ''My body really hasn't changed,'' he said.

    Suzuki, who said he took off only two or three days from working out during the offseason, checked in at camp with only 7 percent body fat.

    ''He looks unbelievable, like he's prepared every minute of every day to get to this time, and it's probably because he has,'' general manager Jerry Dipoto said. ''He's so focused on his goals, and right now his goal is to make sure that he is on that plane when we leave for Tokyo.''

    Large groups of fans and Japanese media followed Suzuki everywhere he went during the first workout.

    When asked how much he looked forward to the Japan series, Suzuki insisted that he's not yet thinking about that. The player with 4,367 career hits - 3,089 in the 18 big league seasons and 1,278 in nine seasons in Japan before that - is focused on his daily work.

    ''I think a 45-year-old baseball player really shouldn't be thinking about the future. It's about today,'' said Suzuki, who would be MLB's active career hits leader if he's on the big league roster, seven more than Albert Pujols since Adrian Beltre retired after last season with 3,166 hits.

    After the Japan series, it is unclear where or even if Suzuki would fit into a team that is in a rebuild mode with a focus on younger players, and 34 newcomers for the start of camp. And there will be three fewer roster spots after those first two games against the A's.

    No matter what happens, Suzuki said the Mariners uniform would be the last he will wear in the big leagues.

    Dipoto said the team is set with its primary outfielders- Mitch Haniger, Domingo Santana and newcomer Mallex Smith - along with veteran newcomer Jay Bruce, who is expected to float between the corner outfield spots, first base and designated hitter. While Smith is dealing with some right elbow discomfort, manager Scott Servais said the issue isn't serious.

    ''Today I was talking to Jay Bruce and found out that he's 31,'' Suzuki said. ''He's 14 years younger than me. I was pretty shocked about that.''

    The Mariners also have Yusei Kikuchi, a 27-year-old rookie from Japan who relishes the opportunity to play with the outfielder he watched growing up.

    ''One of my goals when I turned pro as time went by was that one day that I would play with players that were kids when I was still playing,'' Suzuki said. ''And right now I'm at the point I'm playing with guys that were in grade school when I was playing here. That was more of a goal that I had, so I think through those years working hard and being able to be where I am today definitely gives me satisfaction.''

    Suzuki was both the 2001 AL Rookie of the Year and MVP with the Mariners, and won a pair of AL batting titles. After being traded to the Yankees midway through 2012 and playing parts of three seasons in New York, he had three seasons in Miami before 44 at-bats in limited action with the Mariners early last season.

    ''He'll have as much energy, if not more, than the rest of the guys. It's just how he's wired,'' said Servais, the manager only six years older than Suzuki. ''He's always ready. Our young players are going to be blown away, like this guy is how old, how long has he been doing this. That's why he's the greatest. He's awesome.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Tebow enters Mets camp 'all in' on baseball
    February 16, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) By now, Tim Tebow has shown he belongs in professional baseball. He's fully committed to the game and much more comfortable on the field.

    Sometimes, though, he still sounds like a football player.

    On his first day at spring training with the New York Mets, the former NFL quarterback was reflecting on last year, when he injured his ankle stepping on a sprinkler head at the beginning of camp.

    ''I didn't run or I didn't play one snap of outfield,'' Tebow said Saturday, eliciting big laughs while catching his own slip-up.

    Nevertheless, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner is no fish out of shoulder pads anymore. He's not on the 40-man major league roster, but he's in big league camp for the second consecutive year and ticketed for Triple-A Syracuse in April.

    One step away.

    ''This will be like, sort of the biggest spring training for me,'' the 31-year-old Tebow said. ''This journey isn't defined by just getting there. I think, shoot, I've already enjoyed it enough to say it's worth it. The whole process. Would that be awesome? Of course it would. It would be such an amazing thing and it would be so enjoyable, but at the same time, regardless of what happens, I know that I'll enjoy it every day and I think that's the biggest thing for me.''

    In his second full season of minor league baseball, Tebow batted a respectable .273 with six home runs, 14 doubles and 36 RBIs in 84 games for Double-A Binghamton last year. The left fielder socked a three-run homer on the first pitch he saw, then hit .301 in June and .340 in 15 games during July. He even doubled in the Eastern League All-Star Game on July 11.

    Eight days later, however, he broke the hamate bone in his right hand while taking a swing. Season-ending surgery squashed any hope of a fast promotion to the majors.

    ''He did a tremendous job last year,'' Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. ''You have to give him credit for the strides he made.''

    They were evident Saturday during batting practice in a group that included top prospect Peter Alonso, a brawny slugger and fellow Florida Gators product.

    ''Means he's pretty awesome,'' said a smiling Tebow, who won two national football championships in college.

    Tebow's thick arms and muscular frame helped him launch several balls over the fence on a back field. He's been working with personal hitting coach Jay Gibbons, an ex-major leaguer who traveled with Tebow throughout the offseason while he worked his other job as a college football television analyst.

    Tebow said he took batting practice on countless college ballfields all over the country.

    ''It's hard contact. I think I need to have a talk with him about his conditioning. He's probably not strong enough,'' Callaway cracked. ''So yeah, it's raw power, it's real, and the bat moves through the zone pretty swiftly.''

    ''This kid has confidence, because he works. And I definitely see a baseball player out of Tim Tebow. Not just because he's in a uniform, but because he wants it so bad,'' the manager added.

    At the souvenir stand between Tom Seaver Curve and Willie Mays Drive, No. 15 Tebow T-shirts were on sale for $32 along with those of several other players. Tebow's shirt was gray, while the big leaguers were in blue.

    ''We're just going to get him out there as much as possible,'' Callaway said. ''We want to get him out there and see major league pitching. And I know he's going to continue to improve because that's who he is.''

    Regardless of whether he ever makes it to the majors, Tebow has come a long way in a short time on the diamond after spending 2010-12 in the NFL with the Denver Broncos and New York Jets. Remember, it was just a few years ago that he picked up baseball again for the first time since high school.

    A national celebrity also popular for his charity work and outspoken faith, Tebow was laughed at and criticized when he embarked on his new career. Last spring, limited to at-bats as the designated hitter because of an ankle he said was broken, Tebow went 1 for 18 (.056) in seven games with the Mets before returning to minor league camp. He said the pain caused bad mechanics.

    ''It's kind of hard to put into words how much more comfortable I feel, to be honest with you. Just in the little things. Shoot, in knowing what I'm going to grab to bring out there with me for practice, you know?'' Tebow said. ''Just playing catch, going through the motions, balls off the bat, off the wall, all of those things.''

    And while some players bemoan the monotony of spring training, Tebow enjoys the workouts under the sun and inside the cage, always trying to improve.

    ''I love the grind of it. I love the challenge,'' he said. ''Even like for football with training camp, I loved it. I think I was kind of weird that way, but I embraced it. I kind of think I'm the same way with baseball.''

    So even with revered ex-Florida coach Steve Spurrier pitching him a spot in the new Alliance of American Football, Tebow wasn't interested.

    ''It wasn't very hard - and they've called a lot. And Coach Spurrier keeps calling - and I love Coach Spurrier,'' Tebow said. ''I'm all in on baseball. No way could I stop and not give this the chance after everything that I've worked for.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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