The Nats' first round pick will sign quickly

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While the Stephen Strasburg negotiations could be long and nasty, the Nats apparently aren’t going to have any trouble with their second first round pick:

The
Nationals, who took San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg with the
No. 1 overall selection, couldn’t resist taking another pitcher early.
[Drew] Storen was 7-1 with a 3.80 ERA and seven saves with 66
strikeouts in 42.2 innings this season . . . Storen, a draft-eligible
sophomore who could return to school, made it clear he won’t.

“It’s a done deal,” he said. “I can’t get a better situation than this. It’s a perfect situation for me.”

Note
to the Nats’ players: don’t make Storen your union rep once he makes
the big club, because tough negotiations aren’t exactly his forte

I
kid Storen. He may not have been the best player available when the
Nats’ picked him, but based on everything I’ve read, he’s a “finished
product,” as they say, who, as Matthew notes,
could very well be in the Nats’ bullpen very, very soon. If I was him
I’d (a) thank the Nats’ profusely for taking me where they did; and (b)
sign on the dotted line and get my butt throwing live pitches for money
ASAP. If he does that, he could get a nice political boost within an
organization that will no doubt be in Strasburg-related agony for the
next two months. Indeed, the Nats are going to have every incentive in
the world to showcase Storen, both to placate fans and to tease
Strasburg with all that he’s missing.

So good for the kid from Indianapolis, who will very likely benefit from the Boras-inflicted ugliness to come.

Pirates looking for outside outfield help

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.

Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.

Matt Barnes ejected after throwing at Manny Machado’s head

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On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.

For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”

Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.

MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”

Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.

Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.

The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.