So why was A-Rod kept out of the All-Star Game last night?

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One of the biggest talking points after last night’s All-Star Game was the fact that Joe Girardi did not use Alex Rodriguez. Most notably, that he did not use him to pinch run for David Ortiz, who wound up getting thrown out at second base on a single to the outfield. 

I’ve heard two retorts to this: (1) Girardi was protecting A-Rod’s wonky hip or something and didn’t want him to get hurt on the basepaths in a (mostly) meaningless game; and (2) Since Ortiz didn’t represent the go-ahead or even the tying run, better to save your pinch runner for later.

Taking the second one first: huh?  In that situation all runs up to and including the winning run were critical. If Ortiz is thrown out someplace (which he was), it would dramatically reduce the chances of the tying or go-ahead runs scoring.  Given that there was no player on the American League team more in need of a pinch runner than Ortiz, you have to sub someone in for him.  Maybe not A-Rod — the better bet would have been to save Elvis Andrus or someone for pinch running purposes — but someone, and A-Rod was the only one left.

I’m more prepared to buy the A-Rod’s health thing, but Brian Cashman just took a good chunk out of that argument:

Cashman said that while he had not yet spoken to Joe Girardi today,
he believes that Alex Rodriguez is healthy and that there was no injury
situation that would have kept him out of last night’s All-Star Game.
There were reports that Rodriguez had a sore thumb, but Cashman said
there was “nothing that I know of beyond the daily maintenance stuff.”

Cashman added, “Was he available (to play)? Yes he was.”

Maybe Cashman doesn’t have the best information here — Girardi was in the clubhouse with A-Rod after all — and maybe he’s simply not being 100% honest (why let the opposition know if A-Rod is a little banged up?), but the health explanation still isn’t washing with me.

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.

Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.

For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.

Report: Phillies agree to minor league deal with Daniel Nava

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 12:  Daniel Nava #12 of the Kansas City Royals bats during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.

Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.