Guzman not at full strength after shoulder surgery

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I tuned into yesterday afternoon’s Nationals-Tigers game just to see Stephen Strasburg’s spring training debut, but also got a look at Cristian Guzman’s surgically repaired right shoulder as he lobbed a weak, high-arcing throw to first base after fielding a Strasburg-induced grounder.
Even before the injury Guzman was pretty lax with his throws to first base, dating all the way back to his time with the Twins from 1999-2004, but yesterday’s effort looked like it had a parachute attached and sure enough today manager Jim Riggleman told Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com that the shortstop “is a little concerned to air it out.”
Riggleman estimated that Guzman’s shoulder is “probably at about 90 percent” strength, which if true should worry the Nationals quite a bit because adding 10 percent to yesterday’s throws still equals a whole lot of infield hits.
Shortstop prospect Ian Desmond has been impressive early in camp, but Goessling notes that Guzman likely isn’t in any danger of losing his starting job. Instead the Nationals have been giving Desmond reps as a right fielder in addition to moving him around the infield. Desmond may begin the year as a utility man, but there’s a strong chance he’ll have unseated Guzman or second baseman Adam Kennedy by midseason.

Moises Alou pledges to help Cubs give “closure” to Steve Bartman

CHICAGO - OCTOBER 7:  Moises Alou #18 of the Chicago Cubs hits a two-run home run in the first inning against thye Florida Marlins during game one of the National League Championship Series October 7, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
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After the Cubs won the World Series last month — their first since 1908 — owner Tom Ricketts said he plans to reach out to Steve Bartman to provide “closure.”

Bartman was the fan who interfered with left fielder Moises Alou’s attempt to catch a foul ball in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS against the Marlins. Alou was particularly irate about Bartman’s presence and it led to the fan becoming persona non grata in Chicago. In the time since, even before the Cubs won the World Series, the club has tried to make amends but Bartman has rejected offers to speak publicly and he has also rejected invitations to Wrigley Field.

Alou pledged to make time to attend any ceremony the Cubs stage for Bartman, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago-Sun Times reports.

Alou said, “Why not? I’d like to meet Bartman.” He continued, “I have nothing against the guy. I said it right after the game. I had the ball, and I got upset, but at the same time it’s not that kid’s fault. Everybody goes to the ballpark, and they bring a glove. Every wants to catch a fly ball.” However, He still maintains that he would have caught the ball if he had not been impeded.

Diamondbacks sign Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $4 million deal

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 14:  Jeff Mathis #6 of the Miami Marlins hits a grand slam during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on June 14, 2016 in San Diego, California.   (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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The Diamondbacks announced on Monday that the club signed catcher Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $4 million contract.

Mathis, 33, isn’t much with the stick as he owns a career .197/.254/.308 triple-slash line over parts of 12 seasons in the majors. The veteran, though, is well-regarded for his ability to play defense, call games, handle a pitching staff, and get along with his teammates in the clubhouse. As Craig mentioned last year, Mathis is often talked about as a future manager.

The D-Backs non-tendered Welington Castillo on Friday, so Chris Herrmann and Mathis are the team’s two catchers as presently constructed.