Brad Penny

Brad Penny is going to be in the best shape of his life

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If you’ve been reading my stuff for a while, you know that I obsessively track those players who are reported to be “in the best shape of their life” each spring.

Best Shape of His Life stories can take a couple of different forms. There’s the straightforward “Player X is looking good” story which, if we’re lucky, actually uses the phrase “best shape of his life.”  Close relatives to these stories are the “Pitcher X has developed a new pitch/developed a new grip/is standing on the other end of the rubber now” stories and “Player Y has taken up yoga/medicine ball work/Thighmaster and is now way more flexible than he used to be.  The specifics aren’t terribly important. What’s key is that they are put out there by some anonymous source or agent or someone, and are clearly designed to counteract a public flaw assigned to the player the previous season related to conditioning, fragility or just plain sucking.  They’re as predictable as the first crocuses of spring.

And they’re getting earlier!  Today we had what I consider to be my first official sighting of a Best Shape of His Life story. Self-reported, from Brad Penny:

Heading to the gym. I’m going to be i’n the best shape I’ve ever been for the upcoming season.

I know the season just ended, my friends, but with that report, I feel like spring is right around the corner!

Diamondbacks sign Jorge De La Rosa to minor league deal

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 10:  Jorge De La Rosa #29 of the Colorado Rockies throws against the Texas Rangers in the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on August 10, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The Diamondbacks have signed free agent left-hander Jorge De La Rosa to a minor league deal, per a team announcement on Sunday. The contract includes an invitation to spring training. Nick Piecoro of AZCentral.com adds that De La Rosa stands to make $2.25 million if he secures a spot on the major league roster, with up to $600,000 in incentives if he pitches out of the bullpen and up to $1 million in incentives if he pitches out of the starting rotation.

The 35-year-old is expected to compete for a bullpen role after spending the better part of a decade in the Rockies’ rotation. He capped a nine-year run with Colorado in 2016, finishing the year with a 5.51 ERA, 4.2 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 over 134 innings. Despite his struggles out of the rotation, he found limited success in a three-game stint in the bullpen, striking out 10 of 26 batters and holding the opposition to just three hits and one earned run in eight innings.

The veteran lefty is set to join a bullpen comprised of right-handers Randall Delgado, Jake Barrett and Fernando Rodney, along with a number of unproven candidates on similar minor league contracts. His age and command issues may be off-putting, but the promise he showed as a reliever should give the Diamondbacks some upside as they attempt to redeem a league-worst bullpen in 2017.

Josh Donaldson out 2-3 weeks with calf injury

TORONTO, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 13: Josh Donaldson #20 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on from the top step of the dugout as he sits out his second straight game during MLB game action against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 13, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Blue Jays’ third baseman Josh Donaldson is expected to miss up to three weeks with a right calf strain, reports John Lott. Donaldson reportedly felt some discomfort in his calf during sprinting drills on Friday and was diagnosed with what looked like a mild strain after undergoing an MRI on Saturday. According to Lott, the 31-year-old is on crutches for the next few days and will likely miss 2-3 weeks of spring training.

Donaldson had a similar scare at the start of the 2016 season, when he limped out of the batter’s box during the Blue Jays’ first regular season road trip with a right calf strain. He returned to DH two days later, however, and was back on the field in less than a week’s time. Blue Jays’ GM Ross Atkins told MLB.com’s Corey Long that the two calf injuries are unrelated, and expects that Donaldson will recover in similar fashion this spring — well before Opening Day comes around.