Reds pick up outfield help in Balentien

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I sort of called this one on the old twitter feed a couple of days ago. At least I was hoping that the reason the Reds weren’t calling up Chris Heisey was because they were getting ready to pick up an outfielder.
This actually looks like a Jim Bowden move for Cincinnati. Balentien isn’t a five-tools guy, but he does have 30-homer power and a terrific arm. His career line is sitting at .209/.260/.359 in 401 at-bats, but he’s going to a smaller ballpark now, which should help. He’ll probably never hit for average because he swings and misses so often, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him turn into an adequate regular anyway. How he performs over the rest of this year will determine whether the Reds keep him in their plans for 2010. Heisey, Drew Stubbs and Todd Frazier could all factor into the outfield mix next year, so Balentien may have only a small window to establish himself.
The Mariners did pretty well here in getting Manuel, a reliever who broke through with a 1.25 ERA and a 103/18 K/BB ratio in 86 2/3 innings at three levels of the minors last season. The 26-year-old had a 2.70 ERA for Triple-A Louisville this season, and he pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings during his brief time in the majors. While he doesn’t impress scouts with his 88-92 mph fastball, he has a deceptive delivery and excellent command. He could prove pretty useful in the middle innings, and the Mariners will almost certainly give him an opportunity soon.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.

Josh Hamilton leaves camp with a tweaked knee

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses during a spring training photo shoot on February 28, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.

As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.

You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.