Journeyman Chad Tracy signs to play in Japan

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As NPBtracker notes, former Diamondback Chad Tracy, who struggled to reestablish himself as a big-league regular after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee following the 2007 season, is expected to sign an approx. $1.3 million deal to play with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in 2011.

Tracy hit .308/.359/.553 for the Diamondbacks in his second big-league season in 2005 and followed that up with a second straight 20-homer campaign in 2006, but he began having knee woes in 2007 and hadn’t played in more than 100 games in any season since.  The injury robbed him of range at third base, and he hasn’t hit well enough to justify a starting assignment at first base.

Tracy played for the Cubs and Marlins last season, hitting .247/.306/.322 in 146 at-bats as a reserve.   He would have had to settle for a minor league contract this winter, so that $1.3 million guarantee must of looked almost as appealing as a spicy tuna roll.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.

Angels demote C.J. Cron to Triple-A

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Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.

Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).

While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.