Sosa buries baseball in avalanche of non-surprise

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Judging by reaction around baseball, Sammy Sosa testing positive for steroids
(just a report at this point, mind you) is akin to saying the Yankees
have a big payroll. Is anyone surprised? Ummm … that would be a big fat
no.

In fact, surprise was the word of the day. A sampling …

  • Lance Berkman is not at all surprised:
    “That’s not that surprising at all. There are just certain guys that
    you pretty much know without coming out and making an out and out
    accusation, but it does not surprise me, not even a little bit.”

  • Don’t even try to throw a surprise party for Aramis Ramirez:
    “Nothing surprises me anymore. Everybody talked about it, but I played
    with him for two years here and I never saw him do anything wrong.”

  • Joe Torre is surprised when his own player gets caught, but not
    by anyone else: “As far as being surprised, I was surprised with Manny.
    And after that, I mean, how can you be surprised anymore? After Manny,
    how can you be surprised?”

  • Lou Piniella is surprised you would even ask him about it:
    “I don’t know that much about it. Maybe if managers had been trained a
    little more in these areas, I could answer better, but I don’t know. I
    wouldn’t know a steroid from a reefer.”

  • After dealing with A-Rod and now Sosa, Rangers GM Jon Daniels seems to wish he could be surprised:
    “But it’s the same reaction as I had with Alex [Rodriguez]. You hope
    it’s not true. But, unfortunately, nothing would surprise all of us at
    this point.”

  • Don Mattingly hopes these non-surprise surprises are going to soon come to an end:
    “I don’t think it surprises anybody any more. I think it’s good that
    we’ve got a policy in place. … “Obviously, there’s a lot of guys. I’d
    just go ahead — if there’s 103 guys, let’s get ’em all out. We’ll know
    who’s who and go from there. We’ll get it over with.”

  • White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone is surprised that Sosa drew attention to himself:
    “I’m kind of surprised that he came out for an official retirement,
    because sometimes when you do that and make a comment as he made, it
    has ramifications that you can’t foresee and in this case, these are
    some of the ramifications.”

  • And perhaps most surprising is the reaction of Angels reliever Darren Oliver:
    “Better him than me. He’s the one who has to deal with it. It seems
    like if you are caught with this, you can kiss the Hall of Fame
    goodbye.”

    You want a surprise? Oliver might now have a better chance than Sosa
    at the Hall of Fame. I don’t think anyone would have expected something
    like that.

  • Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

    CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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    With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

    For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

    Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

    Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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    Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

    Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

    The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.