Brian Shouse retires. And it’s more significant than it seems

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Relief pitcher Brian Shouse, most recently of the Rays, has decided to retire.  Normally I’d skip over something minor like this, but Shouse’s career arc has a certain beauty to it.

Shouse was drafted by the Pirates in 1990. That’s when being drafted by the Pirates was a good thing.  In his first 12 years as a professional baseball player he pitched all of 13 games in the major leagues.  His odyssey through the minor leagues is truly something to behold. I bet he could recommend a place to eat in 95% of the cities in this country. Then, after converting into a sidearmer, he returned to the bigs in 2002 where he stayed through 2009. During that run he was a good and sometimes pretty damn good lefty specialist and middle relief man.

I could make jokes about how lefties never die, but even most rubber-armed lefties would have called it quits sometime before Shouse’s breakthrough in 2002.  There’s some serious work ethic and determination there. Shouse’s retirement is something that should not be left to a three-word entry in the “transactions” section on page C52 of your newspaper.

Nice career Brian Shouse. Kudos to you for sticking with it when most others would have packed it in a decade ago.  Enjoy your rest. You’ve earned it.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.