Bobby Cox thinks slumping Jason Heyward is being too patient

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Jason Heyward is in the midst of his first extended slump, going 1-for-20 in his last seven games, and Braves manager Bobby Cox thinks he’s being too patient at the plate:

We’re going to talk to him. He’s taking way too many pitches for strikes. [As a result] he’s getting one pitch to swing at right now.

Not many 20-year-old rookies are accused of being too patient during their first month in the big leagues, but Heyward is so good that even his problems are positive ones.
As for whether there’s truth to what Cox is saying, thanks to Fan Graphs we can see that the numbers seemingly agree. Heyward has 13 walks and 25 strikeouts in 81 plate appearances, which certainly shows that he’s taking tons of pitches and working deep counts often. In fact, he ranks third in the league with an average of 4.47 pitches per plate appearance.
He’s also swung at the fourth-lowest percentage of pitches inside the strike zone, which certainly matches Cox’s assessment that Heyward is letting many hittable pitches go by. Also worth noting is that when Heyward does swing he has the 10th-worst contact rate in the league.
Ultimately this is all picking nits, because he’s a 20-year-old rookie with an .806 OPS, but it’ll be interesting to see what type of adjustments Heyward makes now that he’s experienced some adversity.

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.