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  • Yankees beat Betances in arbitration, team president rips agent
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, February 18, 2017

    The New York Yankees won their arbitration case over reliever Dellin Betances on Saturday and then team president Randy Levine criticized Betances and his agent for requesting $5 million.

    • The three arbitrators chose the Yankees submission of $3 million but Levine was highly displeased after the decision. He cited that Betances' agent, Jim Murray, spent a large portion of Friday's 90-minute hearing saying that the three-time All-Star setup man was as valuable as a closer.

      "What his agent did was make him a victim of an attempt to change a marketplace in baseball that has been well-established for 30 or 40 years," Levine told reporters at the Yankees' spring training headquarters in Tampa, Fla. "And I feel bad for Dellin that he was used in that way by his agent, because anyone who knows about this process (realizes) that the history is very much established -- that $5 million goes to elite closers."

      Murray insisted that the fact Betances doesn't pitch in the ninth inning is irrelevant.

      "It is like me saying, 'I'm not the president of the Yankees, I'm an astronaut,'" Levine said. "I'm not an astronaut, and Dellin Betances is not a closer, at least based on statistics, not whether he could be or couldn't."

      Betances recorded 12 saves last season while striking out 126 batters in just 73 innings. He went 3-6 with a 3.08 ERA. In 225 career appearances with New York, he has a 2.16 ERA, 22 saves and has struck out 404 in 254 2/3 innings.

      Betances indicated that he planned to move on after the contentious arbitration case. His mindset changed when the New York native heard Levine's comments.

      "I was planning on putting everything behind me until I was aware of Randy Levine's comments saying I was the victim in this whole process and saying how much they love me," Betances said. "But then they take me in a room, trash me for about an hour-and-a-half. I thought that was unfair."

      Betances leads all relievers in innings pitched over the past three seasons. He said he will consider making himself unavailable to pitch multiple innings on some occasions this season.

      Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Betances hasn't declined to enter a game over the past three seasons. Girardi believes the situation will be resolved by the time the regular season arrives.

      Murray said hard feelings will remain -- Betances will be eligible for free agency following the 2020 campaign -- due to Levine's public comments.

      "As you know, it's not my style or our style as a company to comment to the media on anything," Murray told Fox Sports. "However, we are not going to be bullied by the Yankees' team president. His statements are reprehensible and outright false. His desire to conduct a news conference today amounts to nothing but grandstanding and trying to mislead the media.

      "With regards to Dellin, it was very ironic to hear the Yankees' president express his love and affection when he spent the only portion of the hearing to which he contributed, calling this player by the wrong first name. It is Dellin, for the record.

      "He then proceeded to blame Dellin for the Yankees' declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history while trying to bully the panel, saying something to the effect that the sky will fall if they rule for the player. He is not going to bully this player."

  • Gagne, 41, makes Team Canada WBC roster
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, February 18, 2017

    Former Cy Young Award winner Eric Gagne has not pitched in the major leagues since he was a member of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008 -- and he was not very good that season, compiling a 5.44 ERA in 46 1/3 innings.

    • But the dream to play again lives on for the 41-year-old, who has earned a spot on Team Canada's roster for the World Baseball Classic later this month. He's also been serving as a guest pitching instructor for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and all signs point to Gagne attempting a comeback.

      Gagne told mlb.com that his fastball has been clocked in the 90s and that his go-to pitch that helped him win the Cy Young in 2003 -- the changeup -- has returned.

      "I feel great. It's almost scary," he said.

      Gagne has had throwing sessions with the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks. The last time he appeared in a spring training camp was with the Dodgers in 2010. But Gagne was feeling the effects of multiple surgeries on his elbow and back and was assigned to the Dodgers' minor league camp. He asked for his release, which was granted.

      He served as a pitching coach for France in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

      Last season, he pitched in one game for Ottawa of the independent Canadian-American Association. He allowed just one run, two hits and struck out six in five innings.

      In a 10-year career that included stops in Texas, Boston and Milwaukee in addition to Los Angeles, Gagne compiled 187 saves, including 55 in 2003. He recorded 718 strikeouts in 643 2/3 innings.

  • Padres, P Weaver agree to 1-year deal
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, February 18, 2017

    Veteran right-hander Jered Weaver and the San Diego Padres on Saturday agreed to a one-year deal worth $3 million.

    • The San Diego Union-Tribune said the deal is pending on Weaver passing his physical.

      The deal makes Weaver the Padres' highest-paid pitcher, and he joins a rotation that will be significantly different than last year's, which included Andrew Cashner, James Shields and Tyson Ross, all of whom are no longer with the team.

      "The idea behind the signing (of Weaver) was somebody who can log innings, somebody who still has a lot to prove and wants to pitch," San Diego general manager A.J. Preller told the Union-Tribune.

      "He's always been a winner his entire career. Guys that have been there, been in the postseason, I think from that standpoint he brings a lot to our team and some of the other pitchers that are in that locker room."

      Weaver spent the first 11 seasons of his career with the Los Angeles Angels and compiled a 150-93 record with a 3.55 ERA. He appeared in three straight All-Star games from 2010-2012.

      The 34-year-old suffered his worst season last year. He went 12-12 in 31 starts and gave up a league-leading 37 home runs.

      Weaver is expected to join veteran Jhoulys Chacin and Clayton Richard in the Padres' starting rotation.

  • Dodgers re-sign 2B Utley at 38
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, February 18, 2017

    The Los Angeles Dodgers officially re-signed second baseman Chase Utley to a one-year contract on Saturday.

    • The Dodgers opened a roster spot for Utley by releasing infielder/outfielder Darin Ruf so he could sign with the Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization.

      The 38-year-old Utley was the Dodgers' starting second baseman in 2016, but he returns in a bench role after the team acquired Logan Forsythe from the Tampa Bay Rays in a trade last month.

      "I'm going to make sure Chase gets his at-bats," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said recently. "It's going to work itself out. But the big thing is Chase wanted to be here and be part of what we've got going on."

      Utley batted .252 with 14 home runs and 52 RBIs in 138 games last season. Over his 14-year major league career, he is hitting .278 with 250 home runs and 977 RBIs.

  • Swisher officially retires
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, February 18, 2017

    Nick Swisher won't be returning the major leagues this year or in the future.

    • After not having played in a big-league game since 2014, Swisher officially announced his retirement on Thursday through a statement in The Players Tribune.

      "Your body tells you when it's time to call it quits," Swisher said. "And this offseason, my body was screaming, 'The dream is over, baby!' And I can't argue with that."

      Knee injuries took their toll and made the 36-year-old Swisher decide during the offseason that he had enough.

      Swisher won't be out of work, though. In addition to working as a guest instructor during spring training with the New York Yankees, he'll start a new TV gig with Fox Sports as a studio analyst.

      Swisher played in 76 games in 2014 with the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians in his last major league action.

      Last year, Swisher attempted to resume his career and he played in 55 games for the Yankees' Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise. He left in July when his second child was born.

      Swisher hangs it up with a .249 career batting average, 245 home runs and 803 RBIs in 12 major league seasons. His stops included the Oakland Athletics (2004-07), Chicago White Sox (2008), Yankees (2009-12), Indians (2013-15) and Braves (2015).

      Swisher's best seasons were 2006 with the Athletics, when he hit 35 home runs and had 95 RBIs and a .254 batting average, and in 2010 with the Yankees, when he batted .288 with 29 homers and 89 RBIs.

      The No. 16 overall selection in the 2002 amateur draft out of Ohio State, Swisher was part of a World Series championship team with the Yankees in 2009.

  • Rangers' Beltre out 3 weeks with calf injury
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, February 17, 2017

    Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre showed up with a surprise injury when he reported to spring training on Friday at Surprise, Ariz.

    • Beltre informed the Rangers he strained his left calf while working out at his California home on Tuesday. An MRI exam confirmed the strain.

      The injury is expected to sideline Beltre for three weeks.

      The timetable could prohibit Beltre from playing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, which begins March 9 for the Dominican team.

      "I'm going to go on how I'm healing and I'm going to go on how I feel," Beltre told reporters. "Right now, I'm not going to say I'm not going to play. I can't say it yet.

      "I've just got to be smart about this because there's a lot at stake here (with the Rangers). I don't want to rush anything. It's too early for me to think about a decision.

      "If I'm feeling 100 percent and I'm ready to play, then why not? Obviously, I'm not going to force anything. I know my main concern is getting ready for the season. We have a lot we can accomplish here."

      Beltre, 37, said he also could join the Dominican team later in the tournament if it advances.

      Beltre, a four-time All-Star, batted .300 with 32 homers and 104 RBIs last season. He is 58 hits away from reaching 3,000 for his career, which began in 1998.

  • RHP Brach hands Orioles first arbitration loss in 22 years
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, February 17, 2017

    Beating the Baltimore Orioles in arbitration was a tough thing to do until three arbitrators ruled in favor of right-handed reliever Brad Brach on Friday.

    • Brach was awarded $3.05 million to become the first Baltimore player to beat the team in arbitration in 22 years. The team had won its previous nine hearings.

      The Orioles submitted $2.525 million in the case against Brach, who went 10-4 with a 2.05 ERA in 71 appearances last season. Brach made $1.3 million last season.

      Pitcher Ben McDonald had been the last Baltimore player to win a case against the club when he was awarded $4.5 million in 1995.

  • MLB notebook: Braves INF Rodriguez likely lost for season
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, February 16, 2017

    Atlanta Braves infielder Sean Rodriguez underwent surgery for a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder this week and likely will miss the upcoming season.

    • Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery Tuesday on Rodriguez, who signed a two-year, $11.5 million contract in November after a career season with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

      Rodriguez is expected to miss as many as eight months as he recovers, putting his potential return date toward the final month of a season on a team that isn't expected to contend.

      Atlanta acquired veteran second baseman Brandon Phillips last weekend and is expected to be the team's starter.

      --Pittsburgh Pirates left-hander Tony Watson was unsuccessful in his salary arbitration bid and will make $5.6 million this season as opposed to $6 million.

      The ruling was learned on Thursday, one day after a three-person arbitration panel heard both sides of the argument.

      Watson posted a 2-5 mark with a 3.06 ERA in 70 relief appearances for Pittsburgh last season, during which he earned $3.45 million. An All-Star in 2014, Watson has posted a 26-13 record with a 2.56 ERA in six seasons with the Pirates.

      --Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Brantley isn't close to being ready to play in spring training games and his availability for the start of the regular season is also in jeopardy, according to manager Terry Francona.

      Brantley is recovering from surgery to repair a torn right biceps. He played in just 11 games last season due to a shoulder injury and underwent the biceps surgery in August.

      Francona doesn't have a timetable for when the 29-year-old Brantley will start playing in spring-training games.

      The Indians advanced to the World Series without Brantley, who finished third in the American League MVP balloting in 2014. Brantley has a .292 career average with 61 homers and 400 RBIs in eight seasons with the Indians.

  • Indians OF Brantley not close to being ready to play
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, February 16, 2017

    Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Brantley isn't close to being ready to play in spring training games and his availability for the start of the regular season is also in jeopardy, according to manager Terry Francona.

    • Brantley is recovering from surgery to repair a torn right biceps. He played in just 11 games last season due to a shoulder injury and underwent the biceps surgery in August.

      The Indians advanced to the World Series without Brantley, who finished third in the American League MVP balloting in 2014.

      "He's following the protocols the medical people put in place," Francona told reporters. "By all accounts, he's doing everything. This kid has worked his (tail) off. We just need to be patient and allow him to try to get to the point where he can not only come back, but stay back.

      "After not having him for a whole year, he deserves to do it right. He's worked so hard, and to have him back will be so nice. We're going to do it right so he can have his best chance to be successful."

      Francona doesn't have a timetable for when the 29-year-old Brantley will start playing in spring-training games.

      "I don't think that's fair to him," Francona said. "We all see how hard he's working. I think we're just going to go off of him. As he gets things accomplished with the proper amount of intensity, he'll move on to something else. I think that's the timetable we need to abide by."

      Brantley has a .292 career average with 61 homers and 400 RBIs in eight seasons with the Indians. He batted. 327 with 20 homers and 97 RBIs during his All-Star season of 2014 and batted .310 with 15 homers and 84 RBIs in 2015 before his injury plagued season of last year.

  • Pirates LHP Watson loses in arbitration, gets $5.6M
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, February 16, 2017

    Pittsburgh Pirates left-hander Tony Watson was unsuccessful in his salary arbitration bid and will make $5.6 million this season as opposed to $6 million.

    • The ruling was learned on Thursday, one day after a three-person arbitration panel heard both sides of the argument.

      Watson posted a 2-5 mark with a 3.06 ERA in 70 relief appearances for Pittsburgh last season, during which he earned $3.45 million.

      An All-Star in 2014, Watson has posted a 26-13 record with a 2.56 ERA in six seasons with the Pirates. He is eligible for free agency after this season.

  • Braves' Rodriguez likely out for season after surgery
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, February 16, 2017

    Atlanta Braves infielder Sean Rodriguez underwent surgery for a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder this week and likely will miss the upcoming season.

    • Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery Tuesday on Rodriguez, who signed a two-year, $11.5 million contract in November after a career season with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

      Rodriguez is expected to miss as many as eight months as he recovers, putting his potential return date toward the final month of a season on a team that isn't expected to contend.

      Atlanta acquired veteran second baseman Brandon Phillips last weekend and is expected to be the team's everyday starter.

      Rodriguez hit .260 with 22 home runs and 73 RBIs in the past two seasons with the Pirates. He batted .270 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs last season in 140 games -- all career highs -- when he made $2.5 million.

      Rodriguez played two years with the Los Angeles Angels and five seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays. He is a career .234 hitter with 67 home runs and 259 RBIs.

  • Royals snag another former Cub, sign LHP Wood
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, February 15, 2017

    Travis Wood agreed to a two-year deal with the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.

    • Wood, a left-hander who worked primarily out of the bullpen for the Chicago Cubs last season, was a starter for the Cincinnati Reds before he was dealt to Chicago. He spent five seasons with the Cubs, and moved to an exclusively relief role in 2016, when left-handed batters had a .128 average against him.

      Wood is scheduled to make $10.5 million in the first two years of the deal.

      The contract includes a mutual option for 2019.

      Wood pitched in relief effectively in the postseason for the World Series champions in 2016. He joins Jason Hammel, who signed a two-year deal with the Royals after starting for the Cubs last season, in Kansas City as pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

      Outfielder Jorge Soler, acquired in the trade that sent closer Wade Davis to the Cubs, is also now in Kansas City.

      To make room on the roster, the Royals placed pitcher Brian Flynn on the 60-day disabled list.

      Wood, 30, had a 3.94 ERA in 220 games (98 starts) in Chicago. In 2016 as a reliever, he had a 2.95 ERA in 61 innings in 77 games.

  • Cardinals' stud prospect Reyes out for season
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, February 15, 2017

    St. Louis Cardinals rookie right-hander Alex Reyes, whose fastball tops out at 100 mph, is out for the season.

    • Manager Mike Matheny confirmed Wednesday that Reyes would miss the 2017 season recovering from Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm.

      The hard-throwing starter was expected to break camp in the Cardinals' starting rotation. He was ranked as the top pitching prospect in baseball last month.

      The Cardinals were counting on Reyes after the 22-year-old put up a 1.57 ERA and struck out 52 in six starts in the final month of the 2016 season.

      Because of the possibility of re-injury, many teams are giving pitchers at least 16 months to recover from Tommy John surgery, meaning Reyes might not return until the 2018 All-Star break.

      Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Mike Leake and Michael Wacha are expected to start for the Cardinals but the No. 5 spot in the rotation is up for grabs.

  • MLB notebook: Gardenhire diagnosed with prostate cancer
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, February 14, 2017

    Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach Ron Gardenhire revealed Tuesday that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will undergo surgery this spring.

    • The former Minnesota Twins manager said he was diagnosed earlier this month. A blood test taken during his physical exam cited the possibility and an MRI exam confirmed he had prostate cancer. Surgery will be performed after Gardenhire completes the preparation process.

      The 59-year-old Gardenhire told Arizona team officials that doctors told him the cancer was detected early. It is conceivable he could return to the team six weeks after the procedure.

      Gardenhire is in his first season with the Diamondbacks. He was fired by the Twins following the 2014 season after 13 seasons as manager. Gardenhire compiled a 1,068-1039 record with the Twins and was American League Manager of the Year in 2010.

      --Embattled third baseman Jung Ho Kang will not be able to report to Pittsburgh Pirates' spring training on time because of an ongoing legal situation in his native South Korea, the team announced.

      Kang, 29, is expected to go on trial for DUI-related charges on Feb. 22.

      Kang was arrested in December and charged with leaving the scene of a DUI accident near a Seoul subway station with a blood alcohol level 0.084 (the legal limit in South Korea is 0.05).

      Kang signed a four-year, $11 million contract with the Pirates in 2015 after spending nine seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization. Last season, Kang hit .255 with 21 home runs and 62 RBIs in 103 games.

      --The Cincinnati Reds placed right-hander Homer Bailey on the 60-day disabled list, six days after he underwent elbow surgery.

      Bailey had bone spurs removed from his pitching elbow, marking his third surgery in the region. The 30-year-old hopes to return in June.

      The Reds also claimed right-hander Nefi Ogando off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 27-year-old Ogando has a 3.66 ERA in 18 career relief appearances with the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins.

      --Houston Astros right-hander Collin McHugh won his arbitration case and will earn $3.85 million this season.

      The Astros submitted a salary of $3.35 million but the three-person panel opted for McHugh's request.

      McHugh went 13-10 with a 4.34 ERA and a career-best 177 strikeouts last season. McHugh, 29, is 43-26 with a 3.71 ERA in three seasons with Houston. He won a career-best 19 games in 2015.

      --Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman will receive $3.4 million in 2017 after it was revealed that he won his arbitration case against the club.

      The three arbitrators chose Stroman's request over the $3.1 million the Blue Jays submitted. Stroman was 9-10 with a 4.37 ERA in 32 starts in 2016.

      The 25-year-old won a career-best 11 games in 2014 before missing the majority of the 2015 season due to a torn ACL in his left knee. Stroman, 25, is 1-1 with a 4.40 ERA in five postseason starts for Toronto over the past two seasons.

      --Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi won his arbitration case, meaning his 2017 salary of $4.1 million will be nearly eight times higher than his 2016 wage.

      The three arbitrators chose Odorizzi's figure over the $3.825 million submitted by the Rays. Odorizzi made $520,700 last season.

      Odorizzi, who turns 27 next month, was 10-6 with a 3.69 ERA in 33 starts last season. Odorizzi is 30-30 with a 3.75 ERA in 101 career appearances (98 starts).

      --The St. Louis Cardinals were involved in an arbitration case for the first time in 18 years and were deemed winners in their case against right-hander Michael Wacha.

      The three arbitrators chose the club's $2.775 million submission over Wacha's request of $3.2 million. Wacha, 25, was 7-7 with a career-worst 5.09 ERA in 27 appearances (24 starts) last season. The campaign was a dropoff from 2015 when Wacha went 17-7 with a 3.38 ERA.

      Wacha was the first player to take the Cardinals to arbitration since left-hander Darren Oliver in 1999. St. Louis won the case against Oliver.

      --Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Chase Anderson lost his arbitration case and will make $2.45 million, it was announced.

      Anderson sought $2.85 million but the three arbitrators felt the club's proposal was more acceptable. Anderson made $520,200 last season in his first season with Milwaukee. He went 9-11 with a 4.39 ERA in 31 appearances (30 starts).

      The 29-year-old spent his first two seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is 24-24 with a 4.60 ERA in three big-league seasons.

      --Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Taijuan Walker lost an arbitration case against his new club and will receive $2.25 million this season.

      Walker, acquired from the Seattle Mariners in the offseason, requested $2.6 million. The 24-year-old made $528,600 last season while going 8-11 with a 4.22 ERA in 25 starts for the Mariners.

      Walker was traded to Arizona as part of the package that sent infielder Jean Segura to Seattle. Walker is 22-22 with a 4.18 ERA in 65 career appearances (62 starts).

  • Reds' Homer Bailey headed to 60-day DL
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, February 14, 2017

    The Cincinnati Reds placed right-hander Homer Bailey on the 60-day disabled list on Tuesday, six days after he underwent elbow surgery.

    • Bailey had bone spurs removed from his pitching elbow, marking his third surgery in the region.

      The 30-year-old hopes to return in June.

      Bailey posted a 2-3 mark with a 6.65 ERA in six starts last season following his July return from Tommy John surgery.

      Bailey has logged just 180 innings since signing a six-year, $106 million extension prior to the 2014 season.

      Bailey, who has thrown two no-hitters, boasts a 60-54 career mark with a 4.24 ERA in 10 seasons with the Reds.

      The Reds also claimed right-hander Nefi Ogando off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 27-year-old Ogando has a 3.66 ERA in 18 career relief appearances with the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins.

  • Diamondbacks RHP Walker loses arbitration case, will make $2.25 million
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, February 14, 2017

    Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Taijuan Walker lost an arbitration case against his new club and will receive $2.25 million this season.

    • Walker, acquired from the Seattle Mariners in the offseason, requested $2.6 million.

      The 24-year-old made $528,600 last season while going 8-11 with a 4.22 ERA in 25 starts for the Mariners.

      He was often bothered by his right arch and ankle last season and underwent ankle surgery after the season.

      Walker was traded to Arizona as part of the package that sent infielder Jean Segura to Seattle.

      Walker is 22-22 with a 4.18 ERA in 65 career appearances (62 starts).

  • Gardenhire diagnosed with prostate cancer
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, February 14, 2017

    Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach Ron Gardenhire revealed Tuesday that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will undergo surgery this spring.

    • The former Minnesota Twins manager said he was diagnosed earlier this month. A blood test taken during his physical exam cited the possibility and an MRI exam confirmed he had prostate cancer.

      Surgery will be performed after Gardenhire completes the preparation process.

      "I'm going to fight it and deal with it," Gardenhire said in a statement. "It's a bump in the road, and it's not how I envisioned starting spring training with a brand-new team, but it's part of life.

      "With the backing of this ballclub, we'll get through it."

      The 59-year-old Gardenhire told Arizona team officials that doctors told him the cancer was detected early. It is conceivable he could return to team six weeks after the procedure.

      Gardenhire is in his first season with the Diamondbacks. He was fired by the Twins following the 2014 season after 13 seasons as manager.

      Gardenhire compiled a 1,068-1039 record with the Twins and was American League Manager of the Year in 2010.

  • Brewers' RHP Anderson loses arbitration case
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, February 14, 2017

    Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Chase Anderson lost his arbitration case and will make $2.45 million, it was announced Tuesday.

    • Anderson sought $2.85 million but the three arbitrators felt the club's proposal was more acceptable.

      Anderson made $520,200 last season in his first season with Milwaukee. He went 9-11 with a 4.39 ERA in 31 appearances (30 starts).

      The 29-year-old spent his first two seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is 24-24 with a 4.60 ERA in three big-league seasons.

  • Rays RHP Odorizzi gets raise after winning arbitration
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, February 14, 2017

    Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi won his arbitration case on Tuesday, meaning his 2017 salary of $4.1 million will be nearly eight times higher than his 2016 wage.

    • The three arbitrators chose Odorizzi's figure over the $3.825 million submitted by the Rays. Odorizzi made $520,700 last season.

      Odorizzi, who turns 27 next month, was 10-6 with a 3.69 ERA in 33 starts last season.

      Odorizzi is 30-30 with a 3.75 ERA in 101 career appearances (98 starts).

  • RHP Wacha loses rare arbitration case for Cardinals
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, February 14, 2017

    The St. Louis Cardinals were involved in an arbitration case for the first time in 18 years and were deemed winners Tuesday in their case against right-hander Michael Wacha.

    • The three arbitrators chose the club's $2.775 million submission over Wacha's request of $3.2 million.

      Wacha, 25, was 7-7 with a career-worst 5.09 ERA in 27 appearances (24 starts) last season. The campaign was a dropoff from 2015 when Wacha went 17-7 with a 3.38 ERA.

      Still, Wacha's salary will be more than five times higher than his 2016 figure of $539,000.

      Wacha was the first player to take the Cardinals to arbitration since left-hander Darren Oliver in 1999. St. Louis won the case against Oliver.

  • Blue Jays RHP Stroman wins arbitration case
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, February 14, 2017

    Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman will receive $3.4 million in 2017 after it was revealed Tuesday that he won his arbitration case against the club.

    • The three arbitrators chose Stroman's request over the $3.1 million the Blue Jays submitted.

      Stroman was 9-10 with a 4.37 ERA in 32 starts in 2016.

      "Excited to win my case. Really enjoyed the process," Stroman tweeted.

      The 25-year-old won a career-best 11 games in 2014 before missing the majority of the 2015 season due to a torn ACL in his left knee.

      Stroman, 25, is 1-1 with a 4.40 ERA in five postseason starts for Toronto over the past two seasons.

  • Astros RHP McHugh wins arbitration case
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, February 14, 2017

    Houston Astros right-hander Collin McHugh won his arbitration case on Tuesday and will earn $3.85 million this season.

    • The Astros submitted a salary of $3.35 million but the three-person panel opted for McHugh's request.

      McHugh went 13-10 with a 4.34 ERA and a career-best 177 strikeouts last season.

      McHugh, 29, is 43-26 with a 3.71 ERA in three seasons with Houston. He won a career-best 19 games in 2015.

  • Pirates' Kang to miss start of spring training
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, February 14, 2017

    Embattled third baseman Jung Ho Kang will not be able to report to Pittsburgh Pirates' spring training on time because of an ongoing legal situation in his native South Korea, the team announced Tuesday.

    • Kang, 29, is expected to go on trial for DUI-related charges on Feb. 22.

      "We have been staying in close contact with Jung Ho, his representatives and his counsel throughout the process," a Pirates' statement read. "All have been extremely forthcoming and diligent in their efforts to resolve matters in Korea so that Jung Ho can return in time to participate in the Club's preparation for the 2017 season.

      " ... We will continue to do whatever we can to assist he and his representatives in their efforts to resolve all necessary matters so that Jung Ho will be able to travel to the United States to prepare for and to play in the 2017 season, but his reporting date remains undetermined."

      Pittsburgh holds its first full-squad workouts on Friday.

      Kang was arrested in December and charged with leaving the scene of a DUI accident near a Seoul subway station with a blood alcohol level 0.084 (the legal limit in South Korea is 0.05).

      Kang signed a four-year, $11 million contract with the Pirates in 2015 after spending nine seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization. Last season, Kang hit .255 with 21 home runs and 62 RBIs in 103 games.

  • Baseball preseason power rankings: Cubs on top
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, February 13, 2017

    For the first time since 1909, the Chicago Cubs are defending World Series champions.

    • Just let the statement sink in. If you are a Cubs fan who spent any amount of time waiting for the championship trophy, savior it and get ready to experience life rooting for the team to beat.

      We are a little more than three months removed since the epic night in Cleveland that featured all sorts of dramatic twists and turns. Now as the Cubs head toward Arizona for the start of spring training, there is little reason to believe it will be another 108 years between titles.

      This is not to guarantee a title, and Cub fans should be warned repeating is tough. Nobody has done it since the New York Yankees from 1998 to 2000, and a repeat champion only occurred five times since divisional play was instituted in 1969.

      Even recent teams with multiple championships find it hard to repeat. The San Francisco Giants won titles in 2010, 2012 and 2104 but missed the playoffs in each season following a title.

      The Boston Red Sox won titles in 2004, 2007 and 2013. The only time they were close to repeating was reaching Game 7 of the 2008 American League Championship Series.

      Still, even with the numerous challenges of reaching the postseason and winning the required 11 games, the Cubs almost certainly will be in contention for the title again.

      Now the question is who joins them and who derails them.

      The Red Sox and Cleveland Indians appear to be the standouts in the AL, especially with the additions of Chris Sale and Edwin Encarnacion, respectively.

      In the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers re-signed three key contributors, Justin Turner, Rich Hill and Kenley Jansen, after getting to the NL Championship Series. Other teams who could have a say in Chicago's repeat attempt might be the Washington Nationals and New York Mets.

      Regardless for Cub fans, it is a nice feeling to know your team is the hunted and not the one doing the hoping and chasing.

      POWER RANKINGS

      No. 1 Chicago Cubs -- The frontline starting pitching remains, and Wade Davis is a suitable replacement for the departed Aroldis Chapman. And did we mention Anthony Rizzo is 27 and Kris Bryant just turned 25. Also, remember the Cubs won the title with Kyle Schwarber getting hurt in the first week and Jason Heyward struggling.

      No. 2 Boston Red Sox -- David Ortiz is happily retired, but a young core returns in Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr., who proved worth the patience. Chris Sale's presence should help, especially taking the pressure off David Price, though perhaps it says something about Price that the Red Sox needed to add Sale.

      No. 3 Cleveland Indians -- Edwin Encarnacion didn't hit much in the ALCS against the Indians, but now he does not have to face their pitching staff. Encarnacion is an effective replacement for Mike Napoli on a reasonable contract, the starting pitchers should get even better, and a full year of Andrew Miller enhances an already strong bullpen.

      No. 4 Los Angeles Dodgers -- The Dodgers were good even with Clayton Kershaw on the disabled list last year. Imagine how good they would be if he stays healthy. Plus they re-signed free agents they absolutely had to in closer Kenley Jansen, third baseman Justin Turner and left-hander Rich Hill. A fifth straight NL West title seems likely.

      No. 5 Washington Nationals -- One of these days, they will get past the Division Series, and if they did, it would provide the nation's capital a nice diversion from politics. The Nationals certainly have the talent, especially if Bryce Harper's numbers are better than .243, 24 and 86. The addition of Adam Eaton should help; at least Washington fans hope so considering the prospects surrendered to acquire him.

      No. 6 Texas Rangers -- The Rangers won the past two AL West titles and last year pulled it off despite one of the league's worst ERAs. A combination of good fortune and productivity helped, and the Rangers will need it again, especially if Houston is as good as projected.

      No. 7 Houston Astros -- The young core of Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve and George Springer has some help with the additions of vets Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. Getting runs won't be the issue, and if Dallas Keuchel is the 2015 version and the rest of the pitchers fall in line, preventing runs won't be a problem either.

      No. 8 San Francisco Giants -- Maybe the Giants will finally be good in an odd-numbered year. At least they now have a closer, Mark Melancon, after the need for one was so glaring last season. This is a team predicated on pitching with just enough offense, and the combination seems to be present again.

      No. 9 St. Louis Cardinals -- If you are looking for a safe bet to be playoff contenders, pick the Cardinals. They are working on nine straight seasons with 86 wins and 12 playoff trips in the past 17. Of course, they might not have enough to keep pace with the Cubs.

      No. 10 New York Mets -- Health always is a big concern. Day-to-day often becomes a major injury. This is a team that reached the NL wild-card game with a patchwork rotation, but at the moment, Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler are fully healthy. So are the position players who missed significant time last year. The Mets did little in the offseason, but retaining Yoenis Cespedes helps.

      No. 11 Toronto Blue Jays -- Losing Edwin Encarnacion hurts, but Toronto had the league's top rotation, and it returns intact. Jose Bautista also is back in another contract year to help Josh Donaldson with the offense. Kendrys Morales will not be not as powerful as Encarnacion but somewhat cushions the blow.

      No. 12 Seattle Mariners -- Is this the year Jerry DiPoto's aggressiveness pays off? He made numerous trades again this offseason to improve an 86-win team, and if those moves succeed, the Mariners could be playoff-bound for the first time since 2001. Runs won't be an issue with Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz. A typical year from Felix Hernandez should keep Seattle in the mix.

      No. 13 Pittsburgh Pirates -- Every year, there is one team that is projected to be good yet fails. Last year, it was the Pirates thanks to a down year by Andrew McCutcheon and injuries to Gerrit Cole. Assuming both are back to normal and not traded, the Pirates should be in contention, especially if Ivan Nova's strong two months become a solid six months.

      No. 14 New York Yankees -- The rebuild is on, and the era of big spending is over for the time being. It is a sentence many Yankee fans are embracing. Gary Sanchez wowed observers last year in his two-month homer binge. The rotation is suspect with the questions of health and consistency (Michael Pineda, we're looking in your direction).

      No. 15 Detroit Tigers -- The Tigers publicly talked about cutting payroll, but the plan has yet to be fully implemented. It will be interesting to see if the plan accelerates following the death of longtime owner Mike Ilitch. The Tigers still possess Miguel Cabrera's bat and Justin Verlander's arm, which makes things compelling.

      No. 16 Baltimore Orioles -- The Orioles would like to be in position to use their closer on the road in a playoff game. If they get the chance again, it will be based on how a powerful lineup of Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo and Manny Machado performs and whether they get production a suspect rotation beyond Chris Tillman.

      No. 17 Colorado Rockies -- The Rockies are an intriguing group, especially in the outfield and Ian Desmond at first base. As usual, it is about the pitching, but a young rotation seems to be giving cause for optimism, which should put the Rockies right behind the Giants and Dodgers.

      No. 18 Atlanta Braves -- You might not have noticed, but the Braves played well in the final month as their youngsters began showing they were ready. Atlanta also added some veteran experience in the rotation with Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey as well as veteran second baseman Brandon Phillips.

      No. 19 Kansas City Royals -- The core that helped Kansas City to the World Series title in 2015 is intact, but fiscal reality of pending free agency is starting to creep in. It was evident when the Royals traded closer Wade Davis to the Cubs, but Kelvin Herrera is capable. The Royals, who were 13 1/2 games out of first place last year, need better production and luck.

      No. 20 Tampa Bay Rays -- It is three straight losing seasons for the Rays, and another seems likely. While Evan Longoria remains productive, the rest of the lineup is questionable even with the additions of Colby Rasmus and Wilson Ramos. The Rays have a knack of developing young pitchers, and the next one up is Blake Snell.

      No. 21 Miami Marlins -- The Marlins added some decent names to their bullpen mix, but the rotation is suspect, especially since the Sept. 24 death of Jose Fernandez in a boating accident. The outfield of Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton remains among the best defensively and offensively, but it might not be not enough for Miami to match last year's 79-win total.

      No. 22 Philadelphia Phillies -- The mini-dynasty of 2007-2011 is officially a thing of the past with all links to it elsewhere or retired. Instead, the Phillies are hoping their young players continue developing and the veterans are productive enough to get another young player at the trade deadline.

      No. 23 Chicago White Sox -- The White Sox were stuck in the holding pattern of rebuilding or going for it in recent years. This year, the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton officially signal a rebuild. Jose Abreu remains a nice piece and Todd Frazier's power figures to be coveted at the trade deadline.

      No. 24 Los Angeles Angels -- The Angels have MVP Mike Trout and an aging Albert Pujols but little else. The defense will be improved, and if the pitching holds up, perhaps .500 is possible. Still, it does not look promising for the Angels this season, especially if health is as big an issue as it was last season.

      No. 25 Milwaukee Brewers -- Year One of full-scale rebuilding resulted in 73 wins, and the young group is somewhat interesting. The Brewers will miss Chris Carter's 41 home runs but maybe not so much if Eric Thames hits as he did in Korea and if Ryan Braun remains productive. The Brewers are not ready to contend, but they are slowly progressing.

      No. 26 Cincinnati Reds -- The Reds have not quite mastered the rebuild yet, and the gradual movement of veterans likely will continue at various points. At times the Reds were a disaster on the field with many shortcomings. While they might improve at the plate, the arms are lacking.

      No. 27 Arizona Diamondbacks -- Losing A.J. Pollack for most of the season set an ominous tone last year. The underwhelming showing by Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller did not help. There are some pieces with Paul Goldschmidt, David Peralta, Jake Lamb and Yasmany Tomas, but hardly enough to be serious contenders.

      No. 28 Minnesota Twins -- The 83 wins in 2015 proved fluky as the Twins lost 109 times last year. The Twins possess some nice pieces in Brian Dozier (if he is not traded), Miguel Sano and maybe finally Byron Buxton, but as with many bad teams, pitching is a significant issue.

      No. 29 Oakland Athletics -- Only two years ago, Oakland was coming off three straight playoff appearances. Then Billy Beane traded Josh Donaldson, and the rebuild was on. So far it hasn't worked, and if Sonny Gray is not healthy, it will stunt the process even more since he figures to be coveted by contenders at the deadline.

      No. 30 San Diego Padres -- The Padres remain in oblivion despite their significant roster changes since the end of the 2014 season. San Diego did little in the offseason, and the team will continue footing the bill for shedding so many prospects early in general manager A.J. Preller's tenure.

  • MLB notebook: Jeter, wife expecting baby girl
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, February 13, 2017

    New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter and his wife Hannah announced Monday they are expecting their first child, a baby girl.

    • The 26-year-old model made the pregnancy announcement in a personal essay published on her husband's The Players' Tribune website.

      The announcement included a photo of the 42-year-old Jeter holding a bouquet of pink balloons.

      The Jeters were married last July, less than two years after the 14-time All-Star and Yankees captain retired from baseball in 2014.

      --The Washington Nationals agreed to a contract with left-handed power hitter Adam Lind, according to multiple media reports.

      The deal, contingent on Lind passing a physical, provides the Nationals with depth both in the outfield and at first base.

      The 33-year-old Lind clubbed 20 home runs and had 58 RBIs in 126 games with the Seattle Mariners in 2016. It marked the sixth time in his career that Lind hit at least 20 homers.

      --Right-handed reliever Seth Maness, who spent his first four seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, signed a minor league deal with the Kansas City Royal.

      The 28-year-old Maness underwent an operation on his right elbow in August, avoiding Tommy John surgery for an alternative procedure in which his ulnar collateral ligament was repaired rather than replaced. His recovery time was listed as three to six months rather than at least a year for Tommy John surgery.

      Maness appeared in a career-low 29 games last season, making his final outing on Aug. 13. He finished 2-2 with a 3.41 ERA.