Category Archives: MLB

Jimenez Says Contract With White Sox Is Dream Come True

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Chicago White Sox think Eloy Jimenez is going to be a big-time slugger.

They are so sure they gave the young outfielder a record-breaking deal.

The 22-year-old Jimenez is looking forward to the upcoming season after finalizing a $43 million, six-year contract with Chicago, nearly double the amount of the previous high for a player under club control yet to make his major league debut.

“It’s something I was dreaming when I was a kid,” Jimenez said Saturday at Camelback Ranch. “The dream’s come true and I feel really proud and happy for this moment. This is a moment I’m never gonna forget.”

The agreement announced Friday includes team options for 2025 and 2026 that if exercised would raise the total to $75 million over eight years.

Jimenez was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on March 13. If he stays in the minors for the first 20 days of the season, it would push back his free-agent eligibility by one year until after the 2025 season. If either of the contract options is declined, he would be eligible for either salary arbitration or free agency based on whether he has six years of major league service at that point.

Jimenez was a key part of the trade that sent pitcher Jose Quintana to the crosstown Cubs during the 2017 season. Jimenez hit .337 with 22 homers and 75 RBIs at Double-A and Triple-A last season.

“Both of us are looking forward to opening day and Eloy getting started in his White Sox career,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “It’s a very happy day for us in the organization.”

Hahn referenced Mark Buehrle and Chris Sale as previous White Sox players who earned multiyear contracts early in their careers. He said Jimenez’s talent is the biggest reason for his unusual deal, but there were other factors.

“It does extend beyond that,” Hahn said. “Whenever we have attempted to do this, it has always been with a player whose makeup and work ethic we trusted, one that we felt was not going to change with the security that a long-term contract brings, one that ideally is a potential leader in that clubhouse.”

Jimenez was batting .154 with two doubles and a home run in Cactus League play when he was sent down the minors. He later admitted he was pressing in his bid to make the major league roster.

Jimenez, joined in Arizona by his parents and his brother Enoy — an infielder in the White Sox organization — is one of the majors’ best prospects. Hahn stressed that the contract is about the future of the rebuilding White Sox, who went 62-100 last year in their sixth consecutive losing season.

“There’s going to be ups and downs over the course of the next several months,” Hahn said of Jimenez’s upcoming rookie season. “This is about the long term, not about just the next few weeks or how the major league debut goes.”

Jimenez isn’t worrying about it now.

“I’m gonna handle it, because I’m not gonna put pressure on me,” he said. “I’m going to play hard.”

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP Source: White Sox Near $43M, 6-Year Deal With Jimenez

CHICAGO (AP) — A person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press that the Chicago White Sox are nearing a $43 million, six-year contract with highly regarded outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity Wednesday because the deal had not been agreed to. The contract would include team options for 2025 and 2026 that if exercised would make the agreement worth $77.5 million over eight years.

Jimenez’s deal would nearly double the previous high for a player with no major league service: Scott Kingery’s $24 million, six-year contract with Philadelphia before 2018 season.

Jimenez was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on March 13. If he the 22-year-old is kept in the minor leagues for the first 20 days of the season, it would push back his free agent eligibility by one year until after the 2025 season.

Jimenez was a key part of the trade that sent pitcher Jose Quintana to the crosstown Cubs during the 2017 season. Jimenez hit .337 with 22 homers and 75 RBIs at Double-A and Triple-A last season.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

MLB.TV Joins Lineup on Amazon’s Prime Video Channels

Amazon has launched MLB.TV on Prime Video Channels for Prime members in the U.S., just in time for the start of Major League Baseball’s 2019 regular season start next week. The MLB.TV package provides regular-season out-of-market baseball games, both live and on-demand. Prime members in the U.S. can subscribe to MLB.TV for $24.99 per month, […]

A’s Rally Falls Short In Tokyo MLB Season Opener; Japanese Fans Cheer Ichiro

TOKYO (AP) — Ichiro drew all the cheers. Most everyone else on the Seattle Mariners did all the hitting.

A crowd that came to salute Ichiro Suzuki in his homeland saw Domingo Santana deliver the biggest hit at the Tokyo Dome, a grand slam that sent Seattle over the Oakland Athletics 9-7 Wednesday in the Major League Baseball opener.

Batting ninth and knowing he’d get two plate appearances, Ichiro popped up and worked a walk. The 45-year-old star took his spot in right field to begin the bottom of the fourth inning, then was pulled to another huge ovation. He was met with hugs from the Mariners on the diamond.

“The fans in Japan probably aren’t used to the reception I got from my teammates, but it’s not that unusual in the majors,” Ichiro said.

Mariners manager Scott Servais said Ichiro will play in Thursday’s final game of the series, but there is no guarantee he’ll start.

“We certainly want to give him an opportunity to go out and play, but we also want to get some other guys in the game,” Servais said. “I understand everybody wants to see him go all nine innings. We’re trying to do the best thing for the team and Ichiro understands.”

This marked the earliest opening day ever — the summer sport actually started on the last day of winter. No doubt, most fans in North America were sound asleep when Oakland’s Mike Fiers threw the first pitch at 5:36 a.m. EDT (6:36 p.m. local).

A year after the Cubs’ Ian Happ homered on the very pitch of the season, the ball again was flying.

Tim Beckham also homered as several Seattle newcomers excelled. Khris Davis, who led the majors with 48 home runs last year, Stephen Piscotty and Matt Chapman connected for the A’s.

“It was great. It’s a fun crowd to play in front of. Even the pregame stuff was exciting. I think everybody had a good time,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.

A packed crowd of 45,787 was buzzing for its favorite star, sending cheers, chants and camera flashes for Ichiro bounding all around the park. Signs and Ichiro jerseys were plenty, too.

Ichiro became the second-oldest position player to start an opener, only a few months younger than Julio Franco was for Atlanta in 2004. Several of the players in this game weren’t born when Ichiro began his pro career.

Ichiro is getting very near the end of a sensational pro career that began in Japan in 1992 when he was at 18. He stopped playing last May to become a Mariners special assistant — after totaling 4,367 hits on both sides of the ocean — and struggled in spring training this year.

Santana, one of many Mariners new to the lineup, had no trouble at the plate. His opposite-field grand slam capped a five-run burst in the third for a 5-2 lead and Beckham’s drive in the fifth made it 9-4.

Beckham got three hits and three times. Also making a nice debut for Seattle were Jay Bruce, who singled for MLB’s first hit of the season, and Edwin Encarnacion, who scored twice.

The Mariners won for the 12th time in 15 openers. They also beat the A’s in 2012 when MLB last started in Japan.

Seattle starter Marco Gonzales hung in for six innings, allowing three earned runs and seven hits, and got the win. Felix Hernandez had started the last 10 openers for the Mariners.

Hunter Strickland pitched a scoreless ninth for a save in his first game for Seattle. Edwin Diaz, who led the majors with 57 last year, was traded with Robinson Cano to the Mets in the offseason.

Fiers, making his first opening day start at 33, was hit hard for three innings and took the loss.

NOT THIS TIME

After a lot of offseason talk about improved pace of play, the opener took 3 hours, 24 minutes. … The Mariners had held opponents to no more than three runs in their past 12 openers, an MLB record.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mariners: C Omar Narvaez got stung in the bare thumb on a fastball right down the middle after an early cross-up with Gonzales. Narvaez was checked by a trainer and stayed in. … 1B Daniel Vogelbach was hit in the elbow by a pitch and kept playing.

Athletics: OF Nick Martini (sprained knee), who hit well after making his big league debut last season, is on the injured list for at least another week.

UP NEXT

Mariners: LHP Yusei Kikuchi makes his major league debut in his home country. The 27-year-old lefty starred for Seibu last season, then joined Seattle with a contract that could be worth $109 million over seven years. Kikuchi mixes a hard fastball with a tough, looping curve.

Athletics: RHP Marco Estrada makes his debut after signing with the A’s. The 35-year-old was 7-14 with a career-worst 5.64 ERA last season for Toronto and was hampered by hip and back problems.

Cubs Get Good News On Morrow, Strop

 (AP) — The Chicago Cubs received good news on closer Brandon Morrow and reliever Pedro Strop, who have both been slowed this spring by injuries.

Morrow threw 20 pitches in a bullpen session Monday, his first time off the mound this spring. He was limited to 35 games last season with the Cubs and did not pitch past July 15.

He underwent a debridement on his right elbow in November. Morrow was expected to miss the first month of the season.

“It’s a big step to get back up and off the slope,” Morrow said Tuesday. “To take that step, everything was good. There’s nothing to report other than I felt great. It was just like a normal bullpen. I felt in rhythm mechanically after a few pitches. It was all good.”

Strop, who was projected to fill in as closer for Morrow, has been sidelined this spring because of a mild right hamstring strain. He threw a bullpen Tuesday for the first time since he was injured.

FILE- In this June 24, 2018, file photo, Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Pedro Strop reacts in the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati. Strop has a strained right hamstring, eliminating the likely candidate to close at the start of the season as Brandon Morrow recovers from elbow surgery. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

“There’s a chance he may be ready (for the season opener),” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Strop. “Like I told him, don’t push it right now. We were talking about the first series of the year. I’d much prefer that we don’t have to deal with some issues during the course of the year. He gets it. We’ll see how it plays out.”

If Strop isn’t available, the Cubs’ closer options include Steve Cishek, Carl Edwards Jr., Brandon Kintzler and Brian Duensing.

“I think we’re pretty well set up,” Morrow said of the closer situation. “Every arm helps. I think people get nervous about quote-unquote closers. We’ve got a lot of guys who can handle it.”

Morrow said his rehab will include about six bullpen sessions, then a couple of live batting practice sessions before beginning a minor league rehab assignment.

NOTES: Maddon said third baseman Kris Bryant has looked strong this spring. Bryant played a career-low 102 games last season because of soreness in his left shoulder. “He’s ready to roll,” Maddon said. “He’s smiling easily, nothing is forced. I think because he does feel so well, I anticipate good.” … Maddon has yet to announce the Cub’ rotation for the opening series against the Texas Rangers other than Jon Lester will start opening day.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Spring Training Report: Japan Opening Series With Mariners, Athletics

By Norm Elrod

(CBS Sacramento/CBS Local) — Spring Training is beginning to wind down. Opening Day, when all 30 MLB teams will play, is still over a week away. But the regular season actually starts this week with two games in Japan. The games, part of MLB’s broader effort to extend its reach internationally, will also act as a sort of mini farewell for one of baseball’s greats.

This week’s Spring Training Report looks at the Japan Opening Series, along with a glimpse at the some of the game’s rising stars and the League’s efforts to combat sign-stealing.

Japan Opening Series

The Seattle Mariners face the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday and Thursday in Japan’s Tokyo Dome to start the regular season. Marco Gonzalez will be the Mariners’ starting pitcher for the first game, ending Felix Hernandez’s streak of opening-day starts at 10. He’ll face Mike Fiers, who gets the start for the Athletics. Seattle’s Yusei Kikuchi will take the mound to face Oakland’s Marco Estrada in Game 2.

Taking the field behind Gonzalez and Kikuchi will be the legendary Ichiro Suzuki. The Hall Of Fame-worthy outfielder, who spent more than a decade with the Mariners, was signed to a minor league contract a few weeks ago. Ichiro, who is now 45, has received a hero’s welcome in Japan, and has showed flashes of his former self in exhibition games. His future beyond these two games remains uncertain.

Both games between the Mariners and Athletics will begin at 5:35 am ET.

Up-And-Coming Players

Much of the Spring Training talk has focused on proven superstars receiving big contracts. Today’s news of Mike Trout’s 12-year $430 million extension with the Los Angeles Angels is just the latest. But some of MLB’s lesser names are poised to step up.

Victor Robles of the Washington Nationals will get the opening-day start in center field after the injury to Michael Taylor. Previously overlooked in an outfield that included Bryce Harper and Juan Soto last season, Robles now has his turn to shine. The speedy outfielder has good range in the field, along with a strong arm. He’s hitting .333 in Spring Training and has displayed a little power upon occasion.

The Philadelphia Phillies right-handed pitcher Nick Pivetta could be among MLB’s best pitchers in 2019. He was certainly better in 2018 than his stats show, given the Phillies’ poor defense. Look for his stock to rise as the season progresses.

Adalberto Mondesi, shortstop for the Kansas City Royals, possesses a nice combination of speed and power. He hit .275 in 75 games last season, tallying 32 stolen bases and 14 home runs. His stats should improve this season as he continues to gets consistent at-bats and playing time.

The Colorado Rockies right-hander German Marquez will have a breakout season if he can continue his success from the second half of last season. His sub-2.5 ERA after the All-Star Break was partly a product of his improved repertoire  We’ll see if he can continue his dominance, now that hitters have seen his slider. Coors Field isn’t exactly a pitcher’s paradise.

Combating Sign-Stealing

Sign-stealing isn’t illegal in baseball, but using technology to do it is. Teams can no longer put non-broadcast cameras in the outfield that could pick up communications between catchers and pitchers. MLB is also testing out a system that lets pitchers and catchers communicate with watches. How that might affect the pace of games — something MLB is keen to address — remains to be seen.

Spring Training Report: Japan Opening Series With Mariners, Athletics

By Norm Elrod

(CBS Sacramento/CBS Local) — Spring Training is beginning to wind down. Opening Day, when all 30 MLB teams will play, is still over a week away. But the regular season actually starts this week with two games in Japan. The games, part of MLB’s broader effort to extend its reach internationally, will also act as a sort of mini farewell for one of baseball’s greats.

This week’s Spring Training Report looks at the Japan Opening Series, along with a glimpse at the some of the game’s rising stars and the League’s efforts to combat sign-stealing.

Japan Opening Series

The Seattle Mariners face the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday and Thursday in Japan’s Tokyo Dome to start the regular season. Marco Gonzalez will be the Mariners’ starting pitcher for the first game, ending Felix Hernandez’s streak of opening-day starts at 10. He’ll face Mike Fiers, who gets the start for the Athletics. Seattle’s Yusei Kikuchi will take the mound to face Oakland’s Marco Estrada in Game 2.

Taking the field behind Gonzalez and Kikuchi will be the legendary Ichiro Suzuki. The Hall Of Fame-worthy outfielder, who spent more than a decade with the Mariners, was signed to a minor league contract a few weeks ago. Ichiro, who is now 45, has received a hero’s welcome in Japan, and has showed flashes of his former self in exhibition games. His future beyond these two games remains uncertain.

Both games between the Mariners and Athletics will begin at 5:35 am ET.

Up-And-Coming Players

Much of the Spring Training talk has focused on proven superstars receiving big contracts. Today’s news of Mike Trout’s 12-year $430 million extension with the Los Angeles Angels is just the latest. But some of MLB’s lesser names are poised to step up.

Victor Robles of the Washington Nationals will get the opening-day start in center field after the injury to Michael Taylor. Previously overlooked in an outfield that included Bryce Harper and Juan Soto last season, Robles now has his turn to shine. The speedy outfielder has good range in the field, along with a strong arm. He’s hitting .333 in Spring Training and has displayed a little power upon occasion.

The Philadelphia Phillies right-handed pitcher Nick Pivetta could be among MLB’s best pitchers in 2019. He was certainly better in 2018 than his stats show, given the Phillies’ poor defense. Look for his stock to rise as the season progresses.

Adalberto Mondesi, shortstop for the Kansas City Royals, possesses a nice combination of speed and power. He hit .275 in 75 games last season, tallying 32 stolen bases and 14 home runs. His stats should improve this season as he continues to gets consistent at-bats and playing time.

The Colorado Rockies right-hander German Marquez will have a breakout season if he can continue his success from the second half of last season. His sub-2.5 ERA after the All-Star Break was partly a product of his improved repertoire  We’ll see if he can continue his dominance, now that hitters have seen his slider. Coors Field isn’t exactly a pitcher’s paradise.

Combating Sign-Stealing

Sign-stealing isn’t illegal in baseball, but using technology to do it is. Teams can no longer put non-broadcast cameras in the outfield that could pick up communications between catchers and pitchers. MLB is also testing out a system that lets pitchers and catchers communicate with watches. How that might affect the pace of games — something MLB is keen to address — remains to be seen.

Spring Training Report: Japan Opening Series With Mariners, Athletics

By Norm Elrod

(CBS Sacramento/CBS Local) — Spring Training is beginning to wind down. Opening Day, when all 30 MLB teams will play, is still over a week away. But the regular season actually starts this week with two games in Japan. The games, part of MLB’s broader effort to extend its reach internationally, will also act as a sort of mini farewell for one of baseball’s greats.

This week’s Spring Training Report looks at the Japan Opening Series, along with a glimpse at the some of the game’s rising stars and the League’s efforts to combat sign-stealing.

Japan Opening Series

The Seattle Mariners face the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday and Thursday in Japan’s Tokyo Dome to start the regular season. Marco Gonzalez will be the Mariners’ starting pitcher for the first game, ending Felix Hernandez’s streak of opening-day starts at 10. He’ll face Mike Fiers, who gets the start for the Athletics. Seattle’s Yusei Kikuchi will take the mound to face Oakland’s Marco Estrada in Game 2.

Taking the field behind Gonzalez and Kikuchi will be the legendary Ichiro Suzuki. The Hall Of Fame-worthy outfielder, who spent more than a decade with the Mariners, was signed to a minor league contract a few weeks ago. Ichiro, who is now 45, has received a hero’s welcome in Japan, and has showed flashes of his former self in exhibition games. His future beyond these two games remains uncertain.

Both games between the Mariners and Athletics will begin at 5:35 am ET.

Up-And-Coming Players

Much of the Spring Training talk has focused on proven superstars receiving big contracts. Today’s news of Mike Trout’s 12-year $430 million extension with the Los Angeles Angels is just the latest. But some of MLB’s lesser names are poised to step up.

Victor Robles of the Washington Nationals will get the opening-day start in center field after the injury to Michael Taylor. Previously overlooked in an outfield that included Bryce Harper and Juan Soto last season, Robles now has his turn to shine. The speedy outfielder has good range in the field, along with a strong arm. He’s hitting .333 in Spring Training and has displayed a little power upon occasion.

The Philadelphia Phillies right-handed pitcher Nick Pivetta could be among MLB’s best pitchers in 2019. He was certainly better in 2018 than his stats show, given the Phillies’ poor defense. Look for his stock to rise as the season progresses.

Adalberto Mondesi, shortstop for the Kansas City Royals, possesses a nice combination of speed and power. He hit .275 in 75 games last season, tallying 32 stolen bases and 14 home runs. His stats should improve this season as he continues to gets consistent at-bats and playing time.

The Colorado Rockies right-hander German Marquez will have a breakout season if he can continue his success from the second half of last season. His sub-2.5 ERA after the All-Star Break was partly a product of his improved repertoire  We’ll see if he can continue his dominance, now that hitters have seen his slider. Coors Field isn’t exactly a pitcher’s paradise.

Combating Sign-Stealing

Sign-stealing isn’t illegal in baseball, but using technology to do it is. Teams can no longer put non-broadcast cameras in the outfield that could pick up communications between catchers and pitchers. MLB is also testing out a system that lets pitchers and catchers communicate with watches. How that might affect the pace of games — something MLB is keen to address — remains to be seen.