Smoltz refuses assignment to minors

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Designated for assignment by the Red Sox last week, John Smoltz has refused a demotion to the minors. That basically ends his career in Boston, as the Red Sox now must either trade or release the 42-year-old veteran, who reportedly passed through waivers unclaimed yesterday.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com notes that a trade could prove difficult because of the incentives in Smoltz’s contract, so interested teams such as the Cardinals or Dodgers may wait to pursue him until the Red Sox cut him loose. Smoltz posted an ugly 8.32 ERA in eight starts with the Red Sox, but I’m still convinced that he can get big-league hitters out and for now at least it sounds like he wants to continue pitching.
Everyone teed off on his fastball, but the pitch still clocked in at an average of 91.3 miles per hour and Smoltz’s slider remained extremely tough to hit. He also had a solid 33/9 K/BB ratio in 40 innings and held right-handed batters to .232/.259/.390 in 85 plate appearances, all of which suggests that he still has a little gas left in the tank. A move back to the bullpen might be best for Smoltz, who seemed to fall apart after the first couple innings.
Incidentally, you can watch a 24-year-old Smoltz pitch against Jack Morris in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series right now on MLB Network. I have a feeling it’ll be a decent game.

Padres, Mariners join list of teams to extend netting

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The Reds announced earlier that they plan to extend the protective netting at Great American Ball Park in time for Opening Day next season. You can add the Padres and Mariners to what will surely be a growing list.

A young fan was struck in the face by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, which gave new life to the netting debate. Some fans and media types think Major League Baseball is not doing enough to protect fans. While Major League Baseball has issued guidelines for protective netting, it is ultimately up to the teams to decide just how much netting to use.

Zach Britton receives stem cell injection, likely done for the season

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Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.

The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.

Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.