Back in December of 1984 the White Sox acquired Ozzie Guillen from the Padres as part of a six-player trade that included LaMarr Hoyt going to San Diego.
Roland Hemold was the White Sox’s general manager at the time and recently spoke to a banquet audience about how Guillen came to be part of the trade:
I enlisted Jerry [Krause] to go find the best shortstop he could in the Triple-A ranks, and maybe we could make a trade and bring in a shortstop that we thought we needed. He watched Ozzie Guillen for a week in Las Vegas. And every day he would call me and say, “That little guy can play.” I never asked how much he weighed or anything, as long as Jerry said he could play.
We traded LaMarr Hoyt for Ozzie Guillen, sight unseen on my part. When Ozzie showed up at spring training straight from Venezuela, and I was told he was in the clubhouse, I went down to greet him and give him a good handshake. And he was sitting at the training table … with his shirt off and his baseball trousers on. I looked at that skinny kid, and I said, “Oh, I am so happy to have you here.” Then I went into the office and said, “I’m scared. I think we just signed a jockey.” Anyway, he became the Rookie of the Year.
Not only did Guillen win the Rookie of the Year award in 1985 (despite a .291 on-base percentage and .358 slugging percentage), he went on to play 13 seasons for the White Sox and is now in his eighth season as Chicago’s manager. And he’s even managed to put on a little weight since then.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.