Rumor: Orioles “locking in” on Mark Reynolds

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Justin Upton has grabbed plenty of attention in trade talks this winter — and understandably so — but Mark Reynolds remains the most likely Diamondbacks player to be suiting up elsewhere next season. Here’s the latest.

Buster Olney of ESPN.com hears that the Orioles are desperate for right-handed power and are “locking in” on Reynolds as a solution. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Orioles continue to show the “heaviest” interest in the free-swinging slugger. Interestingly, officials from the Padres and Blue Jays — two teams previously reported to be interested in Reynolds — “strongly deny any interest at all,” according to Rosenthal.

Reynolds batted .198/.320/.433 with 32 homers, 85 RBI and a 753 OPS with the Diamondbacks this past season. He has led the majors in strikeouts in each of the past three seasons. The 27-year-old third baseman signed a three-year contract extension in March and is owed $5 million in 2011, $7.5 million in 2012 and either an $11 million option or $500,000 buyout in 2013.

As for who the Diamondbacks may want in return, Jon Heyman of SI.com tweeted earlier today that Chris Tillman’s name has come up in trade talks. Tillman has struggled to translate his minor league success to the majors thus far, posting a 5.61 ERA over his first 23 major league starts, including a 5.87 ERA and 31/31 K/BB ratio over 53 2/3 innings this past season. There’s no question that his stock has taken a hit, but he doesn’t turn 23 until next April.

The umps have dropped their Ian Kinsler protest

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Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union —  launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.

Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:

“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”

As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.

I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.

 

Minor league teams prepare for a “total eclipse of the park”

Salem Volcanoes
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The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes are a class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Today, the path of totality of the big solar eclipse we’re not supposed to look at will pass right through the ballpark in which they play. What’s better: the Volcanoes are playing a game against the Hillsboro Hops as it happens.

This was by design: the team’s owner requested this home game when the schedule was made up two years ago specifically to market the heck out of the eclipse. They’re starting the game at 9:30 this morning, Pacific time, in order to maximize the fun. Spectators will receive commemorative eclipse safety glasses to wear. The game will be delayed when the eclipse hits and a NASA scientist named Noah Petro, who is from the area, will talk to the crowd about what is going on.

Salem-Keizer isn’t the only minor league game affected, by the way. There are six games in all which will feature a “total eclipse of the park.” Turn around, bright eyes.

There are no home MLB games going on in the path of totality, but MLB has put together a helpful guide in order to maximize your baseball and eclipse pleasure. If you line up some good beer with that you’l have your very own national pastime syzygy.