Tom Glavine officially retires, joins Braves front office

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Tom Glavine big.jpgAfter a year or so of denial, anger and bargaining, Tom
Glavine has finally reached acceptance,  officially ending the
playing portion of his baseball career.  He’s taking a job in the Braves’ front office as the assistant to team president John Schuerholz.  He’ll also do
a bit of broadcasting work, both on Braves radio and on FOX Sports
South, and will do appearances, special projects and that sort of thing
for Frank Wren and Bobby Cox.

I’ve long known that he would never pitch again, but this announcement
still makes me a little sad.  Mostly because I’ve always felt like Tom
Glavine and I grew up together. I was 14 years-old when I watched his
Major League debut. I was on vacation with my family in Myrtle Beach.
It was raining so we were hanging out in the hotel. I clicked on the TV
and the Braves were playing the Astros. Skip kept going on about how
young he was. He mentioned that Glavine had some promise, but made a
far bigger deal about him having been a hockey prospect.  Glavine got
shelled that day, giving up six runs on ten hits in less than four
innings.  To my untrained eye there was nothing special about him. I
remember thinking that maybe he made a bad decision giving up on the
hockey. I certainly had no idea that he’d save the franchise like he
did.

Of course Glavine matured, winning more games, becoming more confident
on the mound, winning Cy Youngs and leading the Braves to the World
Series multiple times. I was always a bigger Maddux fan than Glavine
fan, but I’ve never been more thrilled by a Braves’ pitching
performance than I was Glavine’s in Game 6 of the
1995 World Series. In some ways Maddux was that guy you always knew
would do well.  I know intellectually that Tom Glavine was supremely
talented as well, but having watched his debut, I always saw a bit of
that kid from 1987 in him. I always felt happier for him when he did
well, as if he were some underdog or something, even though he
obviously wasn’t. I rooted for him in ways that I never rooted for Maddux. I always felt he needed my chores a little more.

I’m guessing every fan of a certain age can identify with this.  Can
name the first guy whose whole career they watched really, really
closely. The first guy with whom they took the entire ride.  For me
that guy is Tom Glavine and the ride is now officially over.

Guess it’s time to get back in line and ride again.

Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.