penny and smirnoff play catch

Penny engaged to Dancing With The Stars’ Karina Smirnoff

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Brad Penny gelled immediately with pitching coach Dave Duncan this year in St. Louis and posted a solid 3.23 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in his first nine starts for the Cardinals, but he went down with a lat injury in late May and never resurfaced due to injury setbacks.

He’s back in the news now, but not for baseball reasons.  According to People Magazine, Penny got engaged recently to longtime girlfriend Karina Smirnoff, one of the more popular professional dancers on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars.

Penny will be a free agent this winter and will probably be seeking an incentive-laden one-year deal like the $7.5 million one that he scored last offseason from St. Louis.  The big right-hander has always been an effective starter when healthy and owns a career 4.11 ERA and 6.27 K/9.

He should be able to find a decent contract in a free agent market that is thin on quality starting pitchers.

Smirnoff, pictured on the right playing catch with Penny, danced this season with Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino from MTV’s Jersey Shore.

Corey Dickerson has lost 25 pounds

PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 25:  Corey Dickerson #10 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a photo during the Rays' photo day on February 25, 2016 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Corey Dickerson of the Tampa Bay Rays wasn’t a super huge guy or anything, but he’s going to be smaller this year: he told reporters today that he’s lost 25 pounds. He attributes it to a new diet and a workout regimen and says it’ll help him with his running, swing and throwing.

Dickerson had a down year in 2016, so if losing 25 pounds is something he thinks will work for him he’s got nothing to lose. Of course the best way for him to improve his numbers is to convince the Rays to trade him back to Colorado, but that’s not likely.

James McCann is in The Best Shape of His Life

Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann blows a bubble while warming up during a spring training baseball workout, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Lakeland, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.

We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.

James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:

Spring training is less than a month away, folks!