Nationals stick with Riggleman as manager

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It looks likes Bobby Valentine will be spending 2010 doing studio work at ESPN, as the Nationals confirmed Wednesday that they’re sticking with Jim Riggleman as the manager for 2010.
Riggleman took over the team on an interim basis midway through last season, and the club improved from 26-61 under Manny Acta to 33-42 the rest of the way.
The Nationals are the fourth team Riggleman has managed. Overall, he’s 555-694, good for a .444 winning percentage. Just once in seven full seasons has he managed a contender; his 1998 Cubs beat the Giants in a one-game playoff to finish 90-73 before being swept by the Braves in the NLDS.
Riggleman and Valentine appeared to be the only serious candidates for job. The Nationals wanted to interview Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly, but he wasn’t interested. Former Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin was mentioned as a possibility, but he might actually be in line to take over as the team’s bench coach.
No one has ever accused the Nationals of making inspired choices, and they certainly took the cautious route here. Valentine would have brought moments of brilliance and occasional controversy. Riggleman will do neither, and that’s just fine with a Nationals organization still trying to distance itself from the Jim Bowden circus.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.

Tigers to give Omar Infante some work in center field this spring

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 11:  Omar Infante #4 of the Detroit Tigers follows through on an RBI single scoring Prince Fielder #28 during the eighth inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field  on September 11, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
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Veteran Omar Infante has spent the overwhelming majority of his career as an infielder, but the Tigers plan to give him some playing time in center field this spring. The Tigers’ center field situation is still murky and adding more versatility would increase Infante’s odds of making the roster.

Infante, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Tigers in December. He played 39 games for the Royals last season, batting .239/.279/.321 in 149 plate appearances while playing second base exclusively. Infante last played in the outfield in 2010 with the Braves, and last played center field specifically in ’09 with the Braves.

The Tigers currently have Mikie Mahtook, Tyler Collins, and JaCoby Jones at the top of their center field depth chart. It is not what one would call “optimal.”