Bobby Valentine downplays speculation about return to Mets

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BobbyV.jpgDuring an appearance on with Chris Russo on SIRIUS XM’s Mad Dog Radio Channel on Friday, Bobby Valentine addressed recent speculation that he could replace Jerry Manuel as manager of the Mets, via Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.

“You know, the Mets are 3-6. It’s nine games,” Valentine said. “I mean,
let’s not get crazy here. I think Jerry, I talked to him a few times
during spring training. Jerry Manuel is up for the task. I think that he
has a tough road to hoe, there’s no doubt about it, and he’s got to
keep his head above water until his center fielder comes back, and
obviously has to get that pitching staff in shape. But I don’t see that
as being part of my future as we’re speaking here. … I’m a member of
ESPN Baseball Tonight. I’m happy to be there and I’m gonna enjoy talking
about that situation, not being talked about within that situation.”

I’ve heard Valentine get asked about a potential return to Queens dozens of times since 2002 and opposed to Gary Carter, he always answers in a diplomatic and classy way. I would expect nothing less, as he understands what it’s like to hear whispers while sitting in the manager’s office. I’ve advocated for Valentine in the past, but as Craig alluded to earlier today, Bob Melvin appears to be the in-house favorite.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

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.