Tony Pena, Jr. attempts a reverse Rick Ankiel

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This is an interesting development, but it starts off with a pretty major insult to pitchers everywhere:

Tony Pena Jr. has hit like a pitcher for the past two years, so the Kansas City Royals plan to convert him to one.
Pena,
who was the Royals’ shortstop on opening day in 2007 and 2008, has hit
.156 with 62 strikeouts and eight walks in 276 at-bats the last two
years. He was designated for assignment July 16 with a .098 average and
one extra-base hit.

After clearing waivers, the Royals outrighted him Friday to Class
AAA Omaha, but instead of reporting to the Pacific Coast League, Pena
could be taking a detour to the Royals’ complex in Surprise, Ariz., to
work off the mound.

Zero downside here. If he can pitch, great. If he can’t, well, at least
he has not taken any at bats away from anyone in the meantime.

More generally speaking, if managers are going to increasingly go La
Russa on us and insist on 12 and 13-man bullpens, the least they can do
is to have one of those bullpen arms be able to do something else like
bunt or pinch run or serve as a defensive replacement or something.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.