Yankees sign pitcher off Hank Steinbrenner’s youth team

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The New York Yankees have been crowing about how frugal they are lately. Seriously.

First, general manager Brian Cashman talked about how his team’s luxury tax tab was reduced to $18 million this season. “Atta baby. And right now we’re in the $170s,” he said, referring to a 2011 salary number that could actually fall beneath the luxury tax threshold. Not exactly a bunch of penny pinchers, you say? But wait, there’s more.

Also on Tuesday, the Bombers went out and signed a player off of Hank Steinbrenner’s youth team.

The New York Yankees have signed 19-year-old Leonel Vinas to a minor league contract. The right-hander from Long Island was the ace of Hank’s Yanks, a team sponsored by Steinbrenner, co-chairman of the Yankees.

Vinas, who moved to Long Island from the Dominican Republic at age 11, was 12-0 with a 1.12 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 84 innings for “Hank’s Yanks,” according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.

Pretty cool story, and Vinas called the chance to play in the Yankee organization a dream come true. He’ll report to Tampa in two weeks to begin his professional career, and will probably start in Rookie ball as a reliever.

Cashman, for his part, made it clear that the signing was not a gimmick move. “This is real,” he told Hoch. “He’s got talent. We’re looking forward to seeing where the talent takes him.”

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Dodgers activate Adrian Gonzalez

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The Dodgers have reinstated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the 60-day disabled list after his recovery from a herniated disc. To make room for him they have optioned Rob Segedin to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Gonzalez last played on June 11. Since then the Dodgers have gone an astounding 46-9, with shoe-in rookie of the year candidate Cody Bellinger handling first base duties and posting a .978 OPS. When Gonzalez went down he was hitting .255/.304/.339 and only one homer in 49 games.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of playing time he gets going forward. The Dodgers, of course, have a comfortable lead in the NL West, so they could afford to allow Gonzalez to play a good bit to see if his bat sharpens up while simultaneously giving Bellinger, who has never played more than 137 games in a season, a bit of a breather. Beyond that, though, the Dodgers ain’t broke, so it’s hard to see why anyone would want to tinker with things.

Rays activate Kevin Kiermaier

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The Tampa Bay Rays have activated outfielder Kevin Kiermaier from the 60-day disabled list.

Kiermaier, who fractured his hip in early June, is batting leadoff and playing center field in tonight’s game against the Mariners. He was just 3-for-24 on his rehab assignment, but those aren’t usually predictive of anything. He was hitting .258/.329/.408 when he went down. Getting his bat — and, more importantly, his glove — back in the lineup will boost the struggling Rays in their quest for a playoff spot.