Link-O-Rama: Mets fire Tony Bernazard

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* Mets vice president of player development Tony Bernazard learned the hard way this afternoon that adding to your long list of “incidents” by challenging a clubhouse full of minor leaguers to a fight while shirtless will get you fired. So, you know, let that be a lesson to everyone else. Keep your shirt on.

* Alex Rodriguez took his two daughters and girlfriend Kate Hudson to
the Yankees’ annual family picnic over the weekend, and then made out with one of them in front of the assembled media.

* Spencer Fordin of MLB.com reports
that 21-year-old Chris Tillman will make his MLB debut Wednesday
against Zack Greinke and the Royals. Tillman has made some big strides
with his control since coming to Baltimore in the Erik Bedard trade
with Seattle, and is now among the elite pitching prospects in
baseball.

* Boston has no plans to skip
John Smoltz in the rotation despite his 1-4 record and 7.04 ERA, which
is smart because both his raw stuff and 28/5 K/BB ratio in 30.2 innings
suggest that he’ll turn things around soon enough.

* Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland recently turned down Minnesota’s offer for Orlando Cabrera, and in doing so they probably did the Twins a favor.

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.

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Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.