blanton

Phillies sticking with Joe Blanton for Game 4 start … for now

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With the NLCS tied 1-1 following Roy Oswalt’s gem last night the Phillies are still planning to start Joe Blanton in Game 4 of the series Wednesday.

However, there’s plenty of speculation that Charlie Manuel would instead turn to Roy Halladay on short rest for Game 4 if the Phillies are down 2-1 and the manager did nothing to rule that out yesterday, saying: “We’ll just take it day to day and see what happens.”

Asked if bringing back Halladay on short rest was an option being considered, pitching coach Rich Dubee replied: “We haven’t talked about it yet.” Obviously the Phillies have “talked about it” and the attempts to avoid the topic seemingly make it clear that Blanton’s chances of starting Game 4 with the team down in the series are pretty weak.

It’ll be a moot point if Cole Hamels beats Matt Cain tomorrow, so Manuel and Dubee are smart not to delve into the issue unless they need to, but in this case the non-answers are almost as informative as answers. Blanton hasn’t started a game since September 29, but he pitched very well down the stretch and by moving Halladay up to Game 4 the Phillies would have to move Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels up as well, which would result in the final four games of the series all being started by pitchers on short rest.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.