Former major leaguers in Japan – Hitters

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I’ll go over the pitchers tomorrow, but for now, here’s a look at how
former major and minor leaguers are currently performing in Japan.

Tuffy Rhodes – .327/.413/.655, 11 HR in 110 AB

Rhodes earlier this year became the 12th player in history and first
American to hit 450 homers in Japan. He’d be leading the Pacific League
in slugging if he had enough at-bats to qualify.

Dan Johnson – .197/.302/.415, 9 HR in 169 AB
Kevin Mench – .148/.179/.204, 0 HR in 54 AB

The two highest-profile players to cross the Pacific this winter have
both been big-time disappointments, even if Johnson is doing everything
except hitting for average. Mench has found himself banished to the
minors, where he’s hit .362/.434/.553 in 47 at-bats.

Tony Blanco – .288/.341/.575, 19 HR in 233 AB

Blanco leads the Central League in homers in his first year in
Japan. His only major league action came with the Nationals in 2005,
but he’s still just 27 years old and he appears to be well set up for a
nice run as one of Japan’s top power hitters. I don’t think he was ever
going to make it in the U.S.

Gary Burnham Jr. – .247/.333/.398, 1 HR in 81 AB
Chase Lambin – .221/.256/.430, 4 HR in 86 AB

The Chiba Lotte Marines went obscure with a couple of their newest
imports, and it hasn’t really worked out so far. Burnham spent seven of
his 11 minor league seasons in the Philly farm system before playing in
Taiwan last year. Lambin, 29, hit .300/.378/.518 with the Marlins’
Triple-A club last season.

Jose Ortiz – .301/.340/.615, 9 HR in 156 AB

Ortiz, a one-time top prospect for the A’s, attempted a major league
comeback this year, only to return to Japan after failing to make the
Rockies during spring training. I’ve always thought he could hit in the
majors, but that he’s no longer much of an option at second could
prevent him from getting another shot.

Jason Botts – .143/.250/.571, 1 HR in 7 AB

I’m assuming that there have been some injury issues here. The former Ranger has hit .300/.375/.700 in 50 minor league at-bats.

Tadahito Iguchi – .330/.439/.554, 10 HR in 197 AB

Iguchi opted to return home when it didn’t look like he’d be offered
a starting job in the U.S. Obviously, he had some baseball left in him
after all. He’s performing even better now than he did in his final
year before leaving for MLB (.333/.394/.549 in 2004).

Others

Benny Agbayani – .285/.388/.431, 3 HR in 130 AB
Chris Aguila – .095/.208/.095, 0 HR in 42 AB
Hiram Bocachica – .243/.371/.564, 12 HR in 170 AB
Alex Cabrera – .250/.290/.453, 4 HR in 69 AB
Jamie D’Antona – .237/.284/.432, 8 HR in 169 AB
Jose Fernandez – .234/.308/.389, 6 HR in 175 AB
Aaron Guiel – .301/.374/.566, 9 HR in 166 AB
Luis Jimenez – .231/.268/.397, 5 HR in 127 AB
Greg LaRocca – .303/.374/.524, 9 HR in 185 AB
Scott McClain – .235/.322/.382, 3 HR in 102 AB
Alex Ramirez – .299/.324/.488, 10 HR in 244 AB
Scott Seabol – .216/.281/.352, 4 HR in 125 AB
Fernando Seguignol – .165/.248/.320, 4 HR in 97 AB
Rick Short – .230/.279/.294, 1 HR in 126 AB
Terrmel Sledge – .259/.356/.532, 9 HR in 139 AB

Orioles re-sign Paul Janish to minor league deal

SARASOTA, FL - FEBRUARY 28:  Paul Janish #15 of the Baltimore Orioles poses during photo day at Ed Smith Stadium on February 28, 2016 in Sarasota, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Orioles signed free agent shortstop Paul Janish to another minor league deal on Saturday, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The contract includes an invite to spring training.

It’s hardly a surprising move for the Orioles, who have released and re-signed the 34-year-old infielder to multiple minor league deals over the past two years. A perennial Triple-A player, Janish slashed .242/.282/.303 with four doubles and a .585 OPS in two campaigns and 28 games with the Orioles. While he won’t be in line for a full-time role in the majors this season, he profiles as a solid defender and should give the team some infield depth alongside fellow veteran infielders Robert Andino, Johnny Giavotella and Chris Johnson.

Drew Smyly brings youth and experience to Mariners rotation

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Trades don’t surprise Drew Smyly anymore.

At age 27, the Seattle Mariners left-hander has been dealt twice. The first swap sent him from the team that drafted and developed Smyly, the Detroit Tigers, to the Tampa Bay Rays in midseason 2014. That trade landed star pitcher David Price in Detroit.

“I was surprised by that one,” Smyly said.

The most recent trade involving him came in January, when the Rays shipped Smyly to Seattle for three prospects in one of many moves by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. Smyly immediately joined the Mariners’ projected starting rotation, and is having fun getting to know his new teammates at spring training by way of manager Scott Servais’ clubhouse icebreakers.

Servais thinks Smyly is a solid fit as a still young yet experienced pitcher.

“One, being where he’s at in his career age-wise and service time, he’s kind of at the point where, put him in the right environment … very good defensive outfield, he’s a fly ball guy, maybe he does step up and take the next step,” Servais said. “Getting out of the American League East certainly should help him, but there’s no guarantees. Our division’s pretty tough.”

Servais suggested that another Arkansas native, ex-big leaguer Cliff Lee, might have helped sell Seattle on Smyly. Lee is a former Mariner and the two share an agent.

Smyly went 7-12 in a career-high 30 starts last season in Tampa, but won five games from July 30 to the end of the season after starting out 2-11. From May 21 to July 18, he lost seven straight starts.

“Pitching’s tough, you know,” Smyly said. “To manipulate the ball, to make it do different things, to put it in the strike zone with hitters that know what they’re doing. … I just had a rough stretch but I show up at the field every day, play catch and work on my craft and you know, that’s going to turn around one day.”

The 32 home runs Smyly surrendered in 2016 figure to be reduced in Seattle’s pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

“It can only help,” he said. “But it’s still going to be up to me to execute pitches and pitch well.”

Smyly is set to join the U.S. World Baseball Classic team shortly. Before that, he’ll make his first spring training start in the middle of next week.

“It’s an honor to be able to put your country on your chest and play with some of the guys on that team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it big time.”

NOTES: Servais plans to roll out what figures to be Seattle’s opening day lineup in the spring training opener Saturday against San Diego. It’s OF Jarrod Dyson, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, OF Mitch Haniger, 1B Dan Vogelbach, C Mike Zunino and OF Leonys Martin. … Servais said Cano and Cruz will play a little more than is typical for early spring games, as the two will depart for the World Baseball Classic in early March. … LHP Ariel Miranda will start Saturday, then RHP Chris Heston Sunday, RHP Yovani Gallardo on Monday and ace Felix Hernandez on Tuesday.