Report: Ron Washington was being blackmailed

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Ron Washington dugout.jpgRandy Galloway of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram drops a bomb in last night’s column: Ron Washington and the Rangers were being blackmailed over his positive cocaine test.

Galloway reports that numerous team sources have confirmed that the blackmailer — a team employee who was fired in the offseason — was making
“strong demands.” The obvious upshot: if the demands were not met, Washington’s cocaine story makes national news. Some
of the demands were met, Galloway reports, but the club balked at personally giving the
former employee a recommendation letter and one
other request, which Galloway either doesn’t know about or simply won’t say. Galloway says that by January “the former employee was
bad-mouthing Washington around north Arlington.”

Galloway says “[b]lackmailer was
real unhappy,” and that all was still quiet until this week when Washington received a
call “from a national baseball writer saying he had the Ron-does-dope
details.”  That national baseball writer would be Jon Heyman, the man who broke the story, wouldn’t it?  I trust he didn’t know that his tipster — if that is indeed where he got the story — was a blackmailer as opposed to any other team-connected source.

There’s also no word here that the police were ever involved, but if what Galloway is saying is true,  the Rangers should have alerted them.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.