Archive for the ‘MLB’ Category

The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed general manager Jarmo Kekalainen and president of hockey operations and alternate governor John Davidson to multi-year extensions, the team announced Thursday.

The Blue Jackets also promoted Bill Zito from assistant GM to associate GM, and signed him to an extension as well.

“Under John Davidson’s leadership, our club has made great strides over the past six seasons and this long-term commitment speaks to the confidence that our ownership group, led by John P. McConnell, has in his vision for our team,” said Blue Jackets President Mike Priest. “The plan implemented by our hockey operations senior management team is working and we are pleased that these talented and committed individuals will continue to lead our hockey operations efforts for years to come.”

In five full seasons with both Kekalainen and Davidson at the helm, the Jackets have made the postseason three times, accumulating a franchise-record 108 points in 2016-17, but have failed to win a playoff series.

Kekalainen, a native of Finland, became the first European-born GM in NHL history when he was hired in February of 2013.

The Blue Jackets’ brass are set to make some key decisions that could drastically alter the franchise. Star goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and dynamic forward Artemi Panarin are both unrestricted free agents after next season.

The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline reported last month that negotiations between Bobrovsky and the club have stalled, and initial discussions were far apart. Meanwhile, Panarin has made it clear he’s not ready to sign an extension, forcing the Jackets to explore trade options.

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Justin Verlander made his first start at Comerica Park since the Detroit Tigerstraded the ace to the Houston Astros, and the right-hander was nearly moved to tears during a tribute at the ballpark he called home for 13 seasons.

An image of former Tigers owner Mike Ilitch – who died in 2017 – was displayed during the tribute, which Verlander admitted made him emotional.

“That one got me,” he told Jon Morosi of MLB Network after the game, which the Astros won 3-2. “I still wish I could’ve gotten him a World Series ring, and this city one.”

The Tigers enjoyed a renaissance under Ilitch, who purchased the club in 1992 and invested heavily in its payroll. After disappointing years from 1992-2005, the Tigers made the postseason in five of the next nine seasons, beginning with Verlander’s AL Rookie of the Year campaign in 2006. However, the team was unable to win a championship despite reaching two World Series during that span.

Even up until 2018, the Tigers had a payroll of more than $130 million for six consecutive seasons. However, the team hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2014 and eventually traded Verlander – one of the best pitchers in franchise history – to the Astros last August. Houston won the World Series two months later as Verlander played an integral role.

A likely Hall of Famer, Verlander earned the win against his former club on Monday, allowing two runs on six hits and one walk over seven innings while striking out 10. The 35-year-old is closing in on his 11th season with 200-plus innings pitched, and has authored a 2.72 ERA and 2.96 FIP over 31 starts. Meanwhile, amid another lost season for the Tigers, the Comerica Park faithful gave Verlander multiple standing ovations on Monday night.

David Price isn’t planning on leaving the Boston Red Sox at the end of this season.

The left-hander, who’s in the midst of his finest stretch with the Red Sox since signing a seven-year, $217-million contract before the 2016 campaign, can opt out of his deal at the end of the year.

Price made it clear on Tuesday that he has every intention to stay with Boston.

“Why would I leave here to go to a team that’s not as good as this team?” Price told MassLive’s Christopher Smith. “I came here to win. I don’t worry about all the other stuff. Just come here to win. We’re going to have a really good chance to do that.”

The 33-year-old southpaw hasn’t lost a game for the Red Sox since July 1 and has only allowed more than three earned runs in a start once since July 7.

JULY OPP IP H R ER BB SO
Jul 7 Royals 4.2 6 4 4 1 9
Jul 12 Blue Jays 6.2 6 3 3 0 8
Jul 20 Tigers 6.1 4 0 0 1 5
Jul 30 Phillies 8 8 1 1 1 5
AUGUST OPP IP H R ER BB SO
Aug 5 Yankees 6 4 2 2 3 5
Aug 11 Orioles 6 5 0 0 0 10
Aug 18 Rays 7 5 2 2 2 8
Aug 23 Indians 8 3 0 0 0 7
Aug 29 Marlins 3 5 3 3 0 3
SEPTEMBER OPP IP H R ER BB SO
Sept 7 Astros 6.1 2 2 2 2 10

Since arriving in Boston with huge expectations, Price has struggled to win over its tough fan base, battled injuries, and was involved in a confrontation with broadcaster Dennis Eckersley.

The veteran left-hander appears to have turned a page with his recent success and is now focusing on accomplishing a new goal: winning in the postseason.

“I could go 35-0 in the regular season with a zero (ERA) and it wouldn’t matter,” Price, who has never won a postseason start, said, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “I need to win in October. That’s that. Regular season means nothing for me.”

If Price changes his mind about opting out, he’d be leaving a lot of money on the table. He’s scheduled to earn $31 million in 2019 and $32 million annually from 2020-22.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the top prospect in all of baseball, won’t make his major-league debut until next spring at the earliest.

By extending his stay in the minor leagues, the Toronto Blue Jays could be attempting to manipulate his service time to maximize how long he remains under team control. Team president Mark Shapiro insists this is not the case, and that the team simply wants to build on Guerrero’s secondary skills.

“It has nothing to with business. It has nothing to do with anything other than we think the best thing for him developmentally is to play in Arizona,” Shapiro told MLB Network Radio on Wednesday.

Shapiro didn’t rule out Guerrero making the big-league roster out of spring training next season, but thinks the young slugger can improve on his defense and baserunning. The executive compared Guerrero to a young Manny Ramirez, who he says came to the Cleveland Indians “underdeveloped” in both areas.

“We’re not worried about him as a hitter,” Shapiro added. “That’s certainly something he does extremely well, and could do proficiently up here now. But we want to build as strong a foundation as possible to try to get him prepared to be up here and stay up here.”

Guerrero has stormed through the Blue Jays’ minor-league system this season. In 95 games across four levels (primarily in Double-A and Triple-A), he slashed .381/.437/.636 with 20 home runs, 29 doubles, and 37 walks compared to 38 strikeouts. He did make 12 errors at third base, however, posting a .945 fielding percentage in the process.

The 19-year-old was recently added to the roster of the Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League alongside fellow prospects Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio. That schedule opens Oct. 9.

Adrian Beltre hasn’t made up his mind about playing next season, but he does know one thing: he wants to retire a Ranger.

Texas had a chance to pursue a trade involving the 39-year-old last week, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Monday, according to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, but opted not to do so after a discussion with Beltre.

“There was a situation last week that presented itself,” Daniels explained. “We talked about it with Adrian. For a number of reasons, it wasn’t the right fit. If he wanted to push and push for the trade, we would have honored that. To not have done that says a lot about how he feels about his teammates and fans in particular. For that piece, I am in awe.”

Beltre did not reject the trade, Sullivan clarified. Instead, the veteran third baseman explained to Daniels he wanted to finish the campaign in Texas and decide about coming back to play one more season with them next year.

“The conversation we presented with Adrian with what was out there,” Daniels said. “If he plays again next year, there are a million opportunities. If he chooses not to play, this could have been the last opportunity. For everything Adrian has meant for the franchise, if he wanted to pursue it, there wasn’t a ton in it for us quite frankly.”

Beltre signed with the Rangers in 2011 and has had quite a career with the franchise, recording 1,255 hits, 192 home runs and a .506 slugging percentage. He’s also taken home two Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves during his time with Texas.

“I was not eager to leave this place,” Beltre said. “I’ve been here for eight years. I’ve been grateful for the chance to be in the World Series and almost win it. It’s not easy to just pack your things and go. There’s a lot of things to be considered, and like I’ve said before, I’d like to retire as a Ranger.”

Houston Astros fan said he was kicked out of Minute Maid Park on Saturday for holding a sign which displayed a hotline number for domestic violence, reports ABC13’s Steve Campion.

Kevin Jukkola said he was escorted out of the stadium by security for carrying the sign, which he’s brought into the ballpark before without incident.

“Some people were not happy about it. Some people were supportive. But either way, there was never an usher called. No security was ever called. Nothing ever happened until Saturday night,” Jukkola explained. “I want them to allow me to peacefully protest and not to be removed from the ballpark.”

Jukkola said he created the sign to show his disappointment in the Astros for their decision to acquire pitcher Roberto Osuna, who was arrested and charged with assault on a woman in May.

The 23-year-old Osuna served a 75-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy and has pitched in 13 games for Houston since a July trade from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Osuna potentially faces six months in prison and a $5,000 fine if he’s convicted of the charges.

New Cleveland Indians third baseman Josh Donaldson left an imprint on the Blue Jays‘ fan base over his four seasons in Toronto. It turns out the fans, and the city itself, impacted him in a way he’ll never forget, too.

“I’m just so grateful for the time that I was with the Toronto Blue Jays organization,” Donaldson told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. “From day one, the fans really took me in. And starting in 2015 with the All-Star game votes, and how they continued just to show up and support me throughout the years was incredible.

“… it is difficult because I am leaving a city I did love.”

Donaldson, who hasn’t played since May 28 due to a calf injury, was activated from the 60-day disabled list on Saturday, but he hasn’t made his Indians debut yet. When he does, he’ll be joining former Blue Jays teammate Edwin Encarnacion, who signed in Cleveland after the 2016 campaign.

Encarnacion called Donaldson to welcome him to the club after the trade went through. The third baseman is excited to pursue a championship with his former brother-in-arms.

“He and I were close when we were teammates in Toronto,” Donaldson said. “We made a lot of great memories together, and had a lot of success together as well. I’m just looking forward to continuing to do what we have in the past, and hopefully making some new memories as well.”