Cliff Lee, cowboy boots and free agent madness

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Just after midnight Eastern on Saturday night it will be open season on free agents. But the madness is already starting.

According to ‘Duk over at BLS, Cliff Lee has been spotted buying cowboy boots!

Hold the presses! This clearly means Cliff Lee is staying with the Texas Rangers right? Or maybe he’s interested in the Houston Astros. Or maybe he just likes cowboy boots. Or perhaps he wants to do duets with the Naked Cowboy. Anyone think of that? Hmmm?

On a (slightly) more serious note, Texas Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson went on the radio on Tuesday morning and made a case for Lee staying in Texas, citing love of team and lower taxes. From the Dallas Morning News:

“If Boston offers him X amount of dollars and we offer him X amount of dollars, if it’s the same, then he’ll probably chose us over Boston. Because of the good times that he had and the fact that the state income taxes are negligible here.”

Wilson also talked about writing a movie about the 2010 Rangers. Not surprisingly, he chose Brad Pitt to play himself. He also said he would have Clint Eastwood play team president and part owner Nolan Ryan, though I’m not sure Eastwood is tough enough. What do you think, Robin Ventura?

You can follow Bob on Twitter, and get all your HBT updates here.

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.