<a href=”http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/32364650/ns/sports-player_news/”>Score another one for Kenny Williams</a>. It almost never happens that players as talented Alex Rios can be acquired without surrendering anything in return. The White Sox didn’t even have to outbid 29 teams or surrender a draft pick. In Rios, they brought in a player who is about to start getting expensive, but one who figures to age well and live up to his contract.
The Jays can point to the fact that Rios’ numbers have dipped in an effort to justify the move, and it is entirely possible that his OPS will end up declining for a third straight year this season. However, Rios is more than just his OPS. He’s a legitimate center fielder who had no business being shoved to a corner for a declining Vernon Wells. He’s a very durable player whose only DL stint in six years as a major leaguer came about because of an infected leg. He’s an excellent basestealer, succeeding on 82 percent of his attempts over the last three years.
Rios will make $9.7 million next year and then $49 million over the following four years, so it’s not a move without risk for the White Sox. Still, his durability and defensive value makes a collapse very unlikely. Even if he wanders aimlessly and never lives up to his potential, his athleticism should guarantee that he’s something close to an average regular. It’s more likely that he’ll have a couple of All-Star campaigns in Chicago and prove to be a modest bargain.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, free up $9.7 million next year to spend as they see fit. A lot of it could go towards re-signing Marco Scutaro, who is five years older than Rios. Those absent $12 million-$12.5 million salaries in 2011 and beyond might just help the Jays keep Roy Halladay. Or Rios’ absence could help drive Halladay away when the team goes on to finish in fourth or maybe even fifth place next year. The Jays simply don’t have any Rios replacements on the way. While the farm system has been productive, it’s been developing pitchers and unathletic hitters. The Jays’ defense, already considerably worse without Scott Rolen, just took another major hit.
As did the franchise as a whole. Rios never would have been sacrificed if the Jays still weren’t paying for the awful Wells and B.J. Ryan contracts. It’s understandable that fans were frustrated with Rios and some might even be glad to see him gone. Still, at best this move will help Rogers Corporation. With or without Halladay, the Jays wouldn’t seem to have any October baseball in their future.
Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?
Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.
Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.