Eric Byrnes lands roster spot on softball team

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byrnes-100505.jpgAfter going 3-for-32 and earning his release from the Seattle Mariners, it didn’t take long for Eric Byrnes to land on his feet.

The 34-year-old outfielder, who once stole 50 bases for the Arizona Diamondbacks (a feat the D-backs are still paying for), has earned a roster spot with a rec league softball team sponsored by Dutch Goose, a burger and beer pub in Menlo Park, Calif.

If you think this post is an audition for The Onion, you’d be mistaken. Here is Byrnes talking to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com:

“This is going to be a blast,” he said. “Playing with my buddies. I can’t wait for my first hit. I’m going to ask for the ball.”

That’s because there haven’t been enough hits for Byrnes the past three seasons.

Gilbert beat me to the punch line, but that’s OK as the Mariners should provide plenty more opportunities this season. As far as Byrnes goes, he’s provided enough already.

In addition to his poor hitting, Byrnes drew attention when he pulled back his bat on a suicide squeeze bunt, leaving Ichiro hung out to dry, then ducked the media by exiting the clubhouse on – of all things – a bicycle.

(I swear this isn’t an Onion story)

Byrnes says he expects that his MLB career is finished, and if so he’ll spend more time with his family (don’t they all say that?) and working on a clothing business that he founded with his wife. Also don’t be surprised to see him focus on a broadcasting career.

“I’ve always had two passions in my life,” Byrnes said. “One of them was playing sports and the other was talking about sports.”

Maybe Byrnes is an odd guy. Maybe he’s a free spirit. Maybe he’s just a “dude.”

Either way, his softball team should be pretty good this year.

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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.