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Author Archives: Nick Collias
A trio of venezolanos try to claw their way back to la gran carpa. Yes, that literally translates to "the big carp," but it also means "the big top." Links are in Spanish…
- Melvin Mora will fly to the states this weekend to begin negotiations with the Giants and Reds, the 40-year-old utilityman told Jonathan Costa Hernández at Líder en Deportes. Mora said his agent received offers from both teams last week, but he didn't yet know the terms. "I haven't had much time for that, due to the kids," Mora said, in reference to his 11-year-old quintuplets.
- After managing just five innings over the last five years, Kelvim Escobar says he is mounting what will be his final attempt at a comeback. "In two months I'll know where I'm at and the progress of my shoulder," the 36-year-old told Meridiano Television in Venezuela. He said his agent has been contacted by several teams, but they will wait until his shoulder is consistently healthy before attempting to arrange a tryout. In 2009, the Mets signed Escobar to an incentive-laden one year deal, but continued shoulder problems kept him from ever taking the mound.
- Francisco Cervelli has heard that two teams are interested in obtaining him from the Yankees, but the team doesn't want to trade him, the catcher told Wilmer Reina at La Verdad. The Yankees have reportedly come close to trading Cervelli several times over the last two seasons, but for the moment he is laboring at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and says his singular focus is on improving his offensive output enough for another callup. "I don't know anything about the Major Leagues, not even from the news," he said. "Now I only worry about working at my job and developing as a player."
Don't expect Pedro to pull a Pettitte. Links are in Spanish…
- Bobby Abreu doesn't put a whole lot of stock in manager Mike Scioscia's prediction that the 38-year-old will get 400 plate appearances this season. "I've learned not to have much confidence in these people, but I hope they live up to what they told me," Abreu told Billy Russo at Lider en Deportes. "How long am I going to have to continue proving to people what I am, and what I'm able to do? At times it's like the work one does doesn't get appreciated, but here I am, and we'll continue the fight." Likewise, he said not knowing how much his time will be split between right field and DH has altered his preparation for the season. "It's clearly affected me, because I'm not used to that, and I don't know why they did it, but whatever; I'll keep on keeping on." Abreu said a month ago that he'd prefer being traded to playing off the bench.
- Pedro Martinez said in December that he would soon make his retirement official, but almost four months later, an announcement hasn't come. Martinez recently appeared on the television program El Despertador in his native Dominican Republic and said an official statement is nevertheless on the way. "We're working, and we're going to send out a press release," he said (as transcribed by Panorama Diario). "We're going to pick a date where we'll make an official announcement, and at the same time, give the Dominican public the opportunity to see it."
- Miguel Tejada still hasn't received any offers this offseason, but he has no plans to explore options in other leagues, the veteran infielder told the Dominican radio show Grandes en los Deportes (Twitter links.) "I play baseball because I like it. I don't have economic problems," Tejada said. "I believe there's still a lot of playing for me to do in the US."
Links in Spanish about three jugadores who don't know where they'll be a year from now…
- Javier Vazquez received calls from two general managers this offseason, and his agent received calls from others, the pitcher told Esteban Pagán Rivera at the Puerto Rican paper Primera Hora. Vazquez says he was frank with his suitors, saying, "I haven't felt the slightest itch to play. But I haven't announced my retirement because who knows if, three months or a year from now, I get the urge to play again."
- Wandy Rodriguez is approaching this offseason's trade rumors as if he were a soldier and the Astros were his army, the 33-year-old lefty told Juan Mercado from the Dominican daily El Día. "Wherever they send me, that's where I'll go, since I don't have any city in particular (in mind)," Rodriguez said. The Astros originally signed Rodriguez as an international free agent in 1999, and he says he appreciates the team that "opened the doors" for him to make it to the majors. "Now, if they decide to trade me, the only thing to do is accept it and leave."
- Slugging Yankee prospect Jorge Vazquez is growing impatient with the minor leagues and would like to try Japan or Korea if there's not a place for him in the major leagues, according to the president of the Mexican League's Tigres de Quintana Roo, where Vazquez played in 2007 and 2008. "If they don't give him an opportunity this year, he wants them to trade him, or to go to [play] baseball in the east," Cuauhtémoc "Chito" Rodríguez told Fernando Ballesteros at Puro Béisbol. "He doesn't want to continue on in Triple A anymore, not just with the Yankees, but with any other organization as well." Vazquez made a case for being MLB-ready in 2011, putting up a .262/.314/.516 line with 32 homers at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Links are, you guessed it, in Spanish…
- Anibal Sanchez has looked strong this preseason, but the 29-year-old told Wilmer Reina at the Venezuelan daily La Verdad that his history of shoulder problems is more than just a memory. "I've never pitched without pain. There's always a small problem with something," Sanchez said. "I have five scars inside my shoulder, and some nerve has to be touching those." Sanchez has bounced back from three injury-shortened campaigns to log 190-plus solid innings in 2010 and 2011, but he said last month the team has yet to approach him about keeping him off the the free agent market next winter. Back in January, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith analyzed Sanchez as an extension candidate.
- Despite an offseason of predictions to the contrary, Hanley Ramirez says he is confident and, yes, even content at third base. "I feel really happy. If I had known that, I would have changed before. I really feel comfortable here," Ramirez told Juan Mercado at the Dominican paper El Día. "I like playing third base, because I'm more relaxed and it makes me focus more, because I have to be prepared for every pitch."
- Jose Contreras told Luis Rangel at the El Nuevo Herald that he feared the worst when he learned he needed surgery on his pitching arm last summer. "When they told me that, I said, 'Wow! My career is done,'" Contreras recalled. "I'm not a young man. I'm 40 years old, and an operation is difficult." However, the Cuban swingman has worked his way back and says he's nearly ready to fulfill the second year of the two-year deal he signed with the Phillies in 2010. "At the moment I can say that I feel good, and if everything goes well in Spring Training, with a couple more good outings this spring, I'll be ready for the season," Contreras said.
Links are in Spanish…
- Melvin Mora has received offers from the Athletics, Rangers, and Marlins, but he's told all three teams they'll have to wait on his decision, the 40-year-old told Nelson Suárez at the Caracas paper Correo del Orinoco. Right now, Mora is dedicating himself to overseeing the construction of a weather shelter for Caracas' thousands of motorcycle messengers. "They've offered me minor league contracts with the possibility of returning to the majors, which I'd be able to do, because I feel like I'm in shape," Mora said. "I've still got two years left in baseball, but for the moment this project is my priority."
- At the other end of the spectrum, Magglio Ordonez told Marcus Grunfeld at Beisbol Venezolano that he's still waiting for offers. "There's still nothing," he explained. "The games have barely begun, and the teams are still studying their needs. It's possible that I'll receive an invitation to some camp." Ordonez insists he won't discount any possibility, though he would prefer a starting role.
- The Blue Jays signed Dominican outfielder Andres DeAza, reports MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. The 17-year-old was passed over in last year's July 2nd class.
- The Pirates signed three players from the Mexican League's Leones de Yucatán, according to the Mexican team's site. Infielder Julio Perez, 20, left-handed pitcher Omar Basulto, 19, and lefty Eduardo Vera, 17, will all report to the Pirate's Dominican complex before receiving minor league assignments stateside.
The Orioles released reliever Dennys Reyes over the weekend when he didn't report to camp, but the lefty still plans to pitch for the team this season, he told Fernando Ballesteros at Puro Beisbol yesterday (link in Spanish). Reyes says he has a torn tendon in the middle finger of his pitching hand, which he suffered in the final game of the Mexican winter league. The 34-year-old is seeing a specialist in Los Angeles today to determine if it will require surgery.
"They had to release me because they couldn't pay my contract with me being here (in Mexico)," Reyes said of the Orioles, adding that he talked with the team's front office to ask permission to continue his rehabilitation in Mexico. "If they hadn't released me, I could have complained to the Player's Union in order to get them to pay me. Unofficially, I still belong to them."
Reyes made just four appearances in 2011 after signing a minor league deal with the Red Sox, and he was placed on the restricted list in May when he needed time at home in Mexico. He told Ballesteros that he still has "important things to do at home with my family," but he's not done with baseball. "I still don't know if I'm going to play this season," he said. "But I'm not going to retire yet, because I feel good and my arm is healthy. I believe I have two or three more years in my career."
We'll keep track of today's minor moves here…
- Right-hander Scott Atchison signed a minor league contract with the Red Sox after being removed from the 40-man roster and clearing waivers, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
- The Cubs signed left-hander Nate Robertson to a minor league deal, Eddy writes. Robertson had a 7.14 ERA with 5.3 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 18 starts with the Mariners' Triple-A affiliate last season.
- The Rockies signed left-handed pitcher Royce Ring, according to Eddy. The former first-round pick saw time in the majors for four different clubs between 2005-2010. Ring spent time with the Triple-A affiliates for Seattle and Boston last season.
- The Nationals signed right-hander Mike Schultz, who has one big league inning to his credit from his time with Arizona in 2007. The 32-year-old has been pitching well in Japan for the last four years, posting a 2.55 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9.
- MLBTR has learned that the Orioles signed catcher Josh Johnson. The 29-year-old played the last three years in the Atlantic League but prior to that spent time with the Rays and Astros Triple-A affiliates.
- The Red Sox signed right-handed pitchers Garrett Mock and Billy Buckner to minor league deals and will report to minor league camp, an industry source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Mock, 28, was once considered a top pitching prospect by Washington but strugged in 2011 as he posted a 6.39 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9. Buckner, meanwhile, made 21 starts and two relief appearances for the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate in 2011.
- The Dodgers signed right-hander Blake Johnson and shortstop Brandon Mims to minor league deals following this week's open tryout, Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times tweets. Johnson spent the 2011 season in the upper minors with the Royals and Rockies, posting a 5.59 ERA in 77 1/3 innings. Mims, 19, was the Blue Jays' ninth round selection in 2010.
- The Orioles signed 27-year-old Mexican pitcher Miguel Gonzalez to a minor league deal, the pitcher told Fernando Ballesteros at Puro Béisbol (link in Spanish). Gonzalez posted decent strikeout rates across three levels in the Red Sox system last year after two years away from the minors. He told Ballesteros he will start off at Triple-A for the Orioles.
4:44pm: The Marlins are not pursuing Guerrero, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Miami is content with right-handed bench bats such as Aaron Rowand and Austin Kearns and Guerrero is not a fit in that role.
3:09pm: The Marlins are interested in shoring up their bench by signing Vladimir Guerrero, the veteran told Julio E. Castro C. at the Dominican paper El Caribe (link in Spanish). However, neither Guerrero nor manager Ozzie Guillen is entirely comfortable with what a move back to the National League would signify for the 37-year-old's career.
"The Marlins have shown interest in me, but to be on the bench or to pinch hit for the pitcher. Ozzie Guillen didn't like this, since he said I'm not that class of player," Guerrero told Castro. Guerrero shares this hesitancy, adding, "I don't consider myself a bench player, in spite of my age."
Despite Guillen's reservations, the match makes sense on paper. The Marlins' first options off the bench are currently lefties Chris Coghlan and Greg Dobbs, and Vlad and former Marlin Derrek Lee are the strongest remaining right-handed batters. Guerrero also said he considers himself a friend of Guillen, whom he met when the Venezuelan was the Expos' third base coach in 2001. "In addition to that, I know the Marlins' owner [Jeffrey Loria] very well, and I consider him a great person," Guerrero added.
Earlier this winter, Guerrero was reportedly open with the Yankees about his desire to fill their DH vacancy. In lieu of other offers, he indicated to Castro he was willing to return to the junior circuit after eight seasons away. "For the moment, I'll continue waiting for [the Marlins'] call," Guerrero said.
Reliever Luis Ayala is weighing offers from the Angels and the Orioles and could sign with one of the two "at any moment," according to Fernando Ballesteros at the Mexican baseball magazine Puro Béisbol (via Twitter, in Spanish). The Padres, he writes, were also involved but have left negotiations with the 34-year-old. According to Ballesteros, Ayala is seeking a two-year deal.
Ayala earned the privilege of being choosy this winter after a resurgent 2011 with the Yankees. He signed a minor league deal with the team in January after a lost 2010 season, but ended up finishing 20 games and pitching to a 2.09 ERA in 56 innings. His rate of 6.3 K/9 tied previous season highs, and he generated ground balls 50 percent of the time. Last week we learned that the Yankees still had interest in bringing him back, but Ballesteros writes that the team isn't among those currently interested in Ayala.
10:21pm: Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports that Lopez will earn $900K if he is on the big league roster or $235K in the minors.
4:06pm: The Cubs have signed Rodrigo Lopez to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, according to Fernando Ballesteros at the Mexican baseball magazine Puro Béisbol (via Twitter). The team had been reported to be interested in bringing back the journeyman pitcher, and Ballesteros reported on Monday that rumors of the signing began circulating in the Mexican media over the weekend.
Lopez, 36, signed a minor league deal with the Braves last January but didn't make the roster out of spring training. After being traded to the Cubs in May, he played the role of a softer-tossing version of new Red Sox swingman Vicente Padilla, working in long relief and occasionally closing while waiting out a spot in the rotation. Lopez ended up logging 16 starts over the late summer, earning a 4.42 ERA with 5.0 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 over 116 innings.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.