Blalock can opt out of 'convoluted' deal with Rays

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Hank Blalock’s minor-league contract with the Rays includes an opt-out clause that allows him to request his release and become a free agent if not added to the 40-man roster by April 1.
He can also choose to accept an assignment to the minors, which seems like it could be a decent option given that the other 29 big-league also weren’t willing to give him a major-league deal. In fact, only the Marlins were really linked to him at all.
Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman used “convoluted” to describe the deal, which would pay $925,000 if Blalock makes the Opening Day roster and includes another $250,000 in playing time-based incentives.
“What I will say is that at the end of spring if there’s not a 25-man spot for him and there is somewhere else we’re not going to stand in his way,” Friedman told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.

Red Sox ask Hanley Ramirez to report 15-20 pounds lighter next spring

Hanley Ramirez
The Associated Press
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Hanley Ramirez was a complete failure in left field this season in Boston and he batted just .249/.291/.426 while appearing in only 105 games. Ben Cherington, the man that signed him to a four-year, $88 million free agent contract, is no longer with the Red Sox. It’s time for some tough love …

Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo, who just inked a two-year extension to return as John Farrell’s bench coach, told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald on Sunday that Hanley has been asked to drop 15-20 pounds over the offseason. There have been similar conversations with Boston’s other free agent failure, Pablo Sandoval.

Ramirez is expected to start at first base for the Red Sox in 2016.

Video: Clayton Kershaw notches his 300th strikeout

Clayton Kershaw
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Clayton Kershaw entered Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Padres needing six strikeouts to become the first pitcher in 13 years to whiff 300 batters in a single season.

He did it within the first nine batters of the game, whiffing Yangervis Solarte, Clint Barmes, Austin Hedges, and Travis Jankowski once each and Melvin Upton Jr. on two different occasions.

Here was the milestone matchup against Upton Jr. with two outs in the top of the third …

The last pitchers to reach 300 strikeouts in a season were Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. They did so as teammates on the 2002 Diamondbacks.

Kershaw is lined up to face the Mets in Game 1 of the NLDS.