One of the reasons I tend not to get too caught up in the All-Star Snub Wars is that just about every snubbed player eventually gets in the game anyway, what with the pitchers who throw on Sunday, the guys who get injured and the guys who pretend that they’re injured who really just want a few days off. And ultimately it makes little difference because, generally speaking, an All-Star is an All-Star is an All-Star.
But that doesn’t really apply to Mariano Rivera. He’s pitched in eight All-Star Games, saving four of them, never allowing a run or even a walk. In a game that already favors pitchers, Rivera has always been the American League’s deal closer. But not this year: he has decided to sit this one out to give some nagging injuries some time to heal.
Most of the All-Star roster shuffling you’ll see over the next several days is meaningless. Mariano Rivera’s decision to sit out is not. In fact, it’s one of the few potentially power-shifting things that will happen between now and Tuesday.
Free agent middle infielder Danny Espinosa signed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, the team announced Saturday. The deal includes an invite to spring training, where Espinosa is scheduled for his first split-squad game against the Orioles this afternoon.
Espinosa, 30, was inked to another minor-league deal with the Yankees in January. The veteran infielder was competing for an infield job until the team picked up second baseman Neil Walker on a one-year, $4 million deal last Monday. Prior to his release, he slashed .160/.276/.320 with one home run through his first 12 games with the Yankees this spring. He didn’t fare much better in the majors last year, either, batting a cumulative .173/.245/.278 with six home runs and a .523 OPS in 295 PA for the Mariners and Rays.
Blue Jays starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is still dealing with a bone spur in his heel and has officially been ruled out for Opening Day, which could clear a path for Espinosa to claim a starting role in Toronto. Of course, he won’t be the only candidate under consideration — Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz are still in the mix as well, though no final decision appears to be made just yet.