Astros bring back Michaels, sign Chacin

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MLB.com’s Alyson Footer reports that the Astros have re-signed Jason Michaels to a one-year, $800,000 contract and added left-hander Gustavo Chacin on a minor league deal.
After a brutal start, Michaels performed well in extremely limited action for the Astros last season, hitting .311/.400/.557 in 61 at-bats after the break to finished with a 752 OPS. Although he spent all season on the active roster, he made just 18 starts and received a total of 135 at-bats. He did his best work when he was in the lineup, as he hit only .225 with four RBI in 53 at-bats a pitch-hitter.
His return, in combination with the decision not to non-tender Jeff Keppinger, makes it appear as though the Astros will have a particularly punchless bench again. Geoff Blum is the star of the group. As things stand now, Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles will form the catching duo, while the fifth bench spot could go to Jason Bourgeois. The Astros may yet add a veteran backup center fielder and bump Bourgeois to Triple-A.
Chacin, who has dealt with a multitude of arm problems since going 13-9 with a 3.72 ERA as a 24-year-old for the Blue Jays in 2005, finished 8-4 with a 3.21 ERA for the Phillies’ Triple-A club last season. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2007. He picked a good team to sign with, given that the Astros currently have Brian Moehler and Felipe Paulino at the bottom of the rotation.

The first native Lithuanian in MLB history made his debut last night

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Why yes, it is a slow news day. But let’s not allow that to take away from some MLB history.

Last night a young man named Dovydas Neverauskas pitched in mopup duty for the Pirates, who were getting hammered by the Cubs. Mr. Neverauskas pitched two innings, allowing one run, making him, by default, the most effective pitcher the Pirates sent out there last night.

That’s good, but that’s not what makes it historic. What makes it historic is that Neverauskas is the first person born and raised in Lithuania to make the Majors. Here’s some back story on him from last year’s Futures Game.

Lithuania is known for producing basketball players. Now it has its first major leaguer. Whether he becomes baseball’s Arvydas Sabonis is an open question.

Bumgarner: dirt bike adventure was “definitely not the most responsible decision”

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Madison Bumgarner talked to the press yesterday about his dirt bike injury and its fallout.

While there is some speculation that the Giants may change their approach to Bumgarner’s contract situation at some point as a result of all of this, yesterday Bumgarner noted that the organization has been supportive as have his teammates. He said he apologized to them as well for an act he characterized as “definitely not the most responsible decision.”

As for the wreck itself, Bumgarner was a bit embarrassed to say that it wasn’t the result of doing anything cool or spectacular on the bike. Sounds like he probably just laid the thing down. Guess it makes no real difference given that he’s injured either way, but you’d hope to at least get a cool story out of it. Alas.

Here’s video of him talking to the press. The best and most accurate takeaway from it: when he says “it sucks.” Yep.