Driver who killed Angels' pitcher Nick Adenhart found guilty

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Andrew
Gallo, the man behind the wheel of the van that broadsided a car carrying Los Angels Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, killing him and two companions, was found guilty today by a jury in Santa Ana, California.

Gallo had been tried on three counts of murder and other offenses, including drunk driving. His blood alcohol content was tested at .19 several hours after the accident. Experts testified at trial that it was likely at .22 at the time of the crash.  Testimony had him on a seven-hour drinking binge prior to the crash and travelling at close to 70 miles per hour when the van he was driving struck the car carrying Adenhart.

Despite this, the verdict was by no means a slam dunk, as prosecutors elected not to submit charges of manslaughter to the jury as an alternative to the murder counts, which frequently occurs in drunk driving fatality cases. That was a risky move, in that the jury could have conceivably found that Gallo was drunk and caused the accident and the deaths but acquitted him anyway if they failed to find the requisite intent for murder. Apparently, however, this was not a problem for the jury. Helpful in this regard, no doubt, was Gallo’s extremely high blood alcohol level and the fact that he had a previous drunk driving conviction.

Adenhart was one of the top prospects in the Angels system. After a cup of coffee in 2008, he put together a fine season in AAA. His 2009 debut came on the night of the crash: April 8, 2009. He earned a no-decision that night, shutting out the A’s on seven hits over six innings.  His future — as well as the futures of Courtney Frances Stewart and Henry Nigel Pearson, Adenhart’s friends who were also killed in the accident — was a bright one.  A fourth victim, Jon Wilhite continues to recover from horrific injuries.

Gallo faces 55 years to life when sentenced. Here’s hoping the judge goes long.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.