An American manager in Venezuela

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Neat story in the New York Times yesterday about former Braves farmhand and minor league manager Buddy Bailey who has managed the Tigres de Aragua in the Venezuelan league since 2002.  Is it weird to be an American manager in a country whose government is so hostile to Americans? Nah, he just channels Norman Dale:

“At first it was like, ‘What in the world are you doing?’ ” said Mr.
Bailey, referring to the reaction of family and friends when he moved
to Venezuela in 2002. “But baseball is baseball,” he explained.
“Everywhere I go, the pitcher’s mound is at 60 feet 6 inches, and the
bases are 90 feet, so it’s the same everywhere.”

If you’re looking for a nice companion piece to this one on this cold, slow morning, check out this one from the other day about baseball (or softball) as tool-of-diplomacy in Nicaragua.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change. And I just want to say one thing to my kid, who should be home sleeping: Merry Christmas, kid, I love you.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.