Ryan Dempster worried about far more than baseball

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Ryan Dempster has a lot on his plate, and not just in making preparations to head to Mesa, Ariz., for spring training.

The Chicago Cubs pitcher is dealing with a personal battle as well, trying to help his 10-month old daughter deal with a serious ailment. (From the New York Times):

Ryan and Jenny Dempster’s 10-month-old daughter, Riley, was born with DiGeorge syndrome, a developmental disorder caused by a defective chromosome. She requires nearly constant medical attention.

Her digestive system has been affected. Unable to swallow, Riley spends mealtime tethered to a feeding tube, while another tube in her tiny throat allows for the draining of built-up secretions that could seep into her lungs and impair breathing. It’s her only manifestation of the illness.

Riley Dempster has spent more than three months in hospitals in Chicago, Philadelphia and Phoenix, and has had four surgeries. The Dempsters hope that physical therapy will help her strengthen the muscles used to swallow and that she will eventually learn to do so.

Meanwhile, Dempster and his wife have started a foundation to help raise awareness – and money – for the cause, in part to help others who can’t afford treatment.

You can read all about it here.

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Watch: Ryan Goins tags Todd Frazier with the hidden ball trick

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The Yankees are facing a convoluted path to the postseason, and they didn’t do themselves any favors after Todd Frazier fell for Ryan Goins‘ hidden ball trick in the third inning of Friday’s series opener. With one out and Frazier on second base, Jacoby Ellsbury skied a deep fly ball to right field, where it was caught by Jose Bautista just shy of the warning track and tossed back to Goins at second. Goins faked the throw to Marco Estrada, then sneakily (or not so sneakily, depending on your vantage point) gloved the ball and caught Frazier off the bag for the third out.

Of course, it helped that Frazier’s back was turned during the throw, so Goins’ fake-out may not have been as obvious as it was when the Yankees reviewed the tape several minutes later.

Goins earned another spot on the highlight reel in the sixth inning, mashing his second grand slam of the season while Frazier — and the rest of the Yankees’ offense, sans one home-run-record-slaying Aaron Judge — scrambled to catch up. The Yankees currently trail the Blue Jays 8-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, and will need to pull off a comeback (and hope the Astros and Athletics clinch their respective games) before they can lay claim to a playoff spot.

Blue Jays shut down Steve Pearce for the rest of 2017

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The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.

Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.

With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.