Baseball to raise ALS awareness

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Baseball will remember Lou Gehrig tomorrow with a nice gesture:

Major League Baseball will honor the 70th anniversary of Gehrig’s
farewell at 15 games on Saturday, when his speech will be read during
the seventh-inning stretch.

“It’s an honor to pay tribute to this American legend,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in initiating the leaguewide celebration.

The purpose is to raise awareness and money for research of
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or A.L.S., the incurable neurological
disease that took Gehrig’s life and now commonly bears his name.

Surprisingly, this is baseball’s first real public embrace of ALS as a cause, with tomorrow’s ceremonies only coming about as a result of an article in Newsweek last November.
Then, a law professor named Michael Goldsmith, who himself suffers from
ALS, challenged baseball to raise money and awareness in order to fight
it. To their credit, many individual teams have long focused on the
disease. The Phillies have had ALS-related events before, for example,
as have the Twins, likely due to the fact that Kent Hrbek’s father
succumbed to it early in his playing career. Given the disease’s
unofficial name and famous victim, however — victims, actually, as
Catfish Hunter also suffered from ALS — you’d think that MLB as a
whole would have been out in front of it long ago.

Better late than never, of course, and good for baseball for doing
this. Anyone who lives with ALS or has a loved one who has suffered
from it knows of its insidious nature, so anything that can be done to
raise awareness — or to raise money — to find a cure is most welcome indeed.

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.

Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.

For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.

Report: Phillies agree to minor league deal with Daniel Nava

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 12:  Daniel Nava #12 of the Kansas City Royals bats during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.

Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.