Manuel completes first year as Mets manager

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Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes
that today is Jerry Manuel’s one-year anniversary as Mets manager.
Manuel has gone 88-67 at the helm, producing what has to be one of the
most-complained-about .568 winning percentages in baseball history.

Manuel took over for Willie Randolph 69 games into last season and
guided the Mets to a 55-38 (.591) record after they went 34-35 (.493)
under Randolph. Of course, they faded down the stretch and ended up
missing the playoffs by one game, so Manuel’s tenure was viewed as more
failure than turn-around.

This season has been similar in that the Mets currently sit a
half-game out of the playoff picture at 33-29 and fans criticize Manuel
constantly. Meanwhile, from a non-New Yorker’s point of view he has the
team in the thick of contention despite a ton of injuries to everyone
from Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, and Brian Schneider to Billy Wagner,
Oliver Perez, J.J. Putz, and John Maine.

He’s certainly been far from perfect and Mets fans have plenty of
room to complain about specific issues and faults, but in the big
picture Manuel has won 57 percent of his games with a somewhat flawed
and now injury-wrecked roster, which is good for the second-highest
winning percentage in franchise history behind only Davey Johnson.

Or as Sherman so aptly puts it:
“Manuel is a gregarious, self-confident man with a ton of baseball
knowledge. I sense an excellent manager in there. I just wonder if he
will ever have enough time or the right team with the Mets to prove
that.”

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.