Obama to throw out first pitch in Washington

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President Barack Obama will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Nationals-Phillies game on Opening Day in Washington and commissioner Bud Selig will also be in attendance at Nationals Park.
Obama probably won’t be wearing Nationals gear, however, because he previously threw out the first pitch to catcher Albert Pujols at last season’s All-Star game in St. Louis while wearing a White Sox jacket. This time he’ll be throwing to Ivan Rodriguez.
Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com notes that “it will be the 48th time the president has thrown out the first pitch on Opening Day in Washington and it comes 100 years after President Taft started the tradition on April 14, 1910.”
In far less positive “guys who take the mound in Washington” news, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that Livan Hernandez will be the Nationals’ fourth starter. Hernandez signed a minor-league contract last month that pays $900,000 if he makes the team, but he’s 35 years old and has ERAs of 5.44, 6.04, 4.93, and 4.83 during the past four seasons.
The Nationals might be better off just sticking POTUS in the rotation.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.