Koji Uehara, not Kevin Gregg, will enter spring training as the Orioles’ closer

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Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com writes that Koji Uehara will head into spring training as the Orioles’ closer despite Baltimore signing Kevin Gregg to a two-year, $10 million contract this offseason.

Gregg has far more closing experience, saving 37 games last season and a total of 121 games during the previous four years, but if healthy Uehara is the guy you’d actually want on the mound with a slim lead in the ninth inning.

Gregg has a 4.03 career ERA, including just one season with a mark under 3.50, while Uehara posted a 2.86 ERA and spectacular 55/5 K/BB ratio in 44 innings last season after moving from the rotation to the bullpen because of injuries. And then there’s Mike Gonzalez, who signed on to be the Orioles’ closer last winter with a two-year, $12 million deal only to miss most of the season with shoulder problems.

Jim Johnson even has some closing experience, so manager Buck Showalter has no shortage of options for the ninth inning, but if everyone is healthy Uehara represents the Orioles’ best chance to have a shutdown closer even if that makes Gregg an extremely overpaid setup man.

Another young fan was struck by a foul ball, this time at Guaranteed Rate Field

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ESPN reports via the Associated Press that a young boy was struck by a line drive foul ball but was not seriously injured during Sunday afternoon’s game against the Royals. The boy and a woman were escorted by a first aid crew to the concourse area and the boy was later eating ice cream in a luxury suite.

A woman was struck in the face by a foul ball also on the first base side at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday, but she didn’t request medical assistance.

Last week, a young fan at Yankee Stadium was hit by a line drive foul ball, which motivated several teams to commit to extending protective netting at their ballparks. The Yankees, strangely, were not among them. Nor were the White Sox.

Diamondbacks clinch NL Wild Card

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Losses by the Cardinals to the Pirates and the Brewers to the Cubs on Sunday clinched an NL Wild Card berth for the Diamondbacks. Their walk-off, 3-2 win over the Marlins earned them hosting rights for the Wild Card game.

The D-Backs, now 90-66, trailed the Marlins 2-1 going into the bottom of the eighth. Daniel Descalso tied the game at two apiece with an RBI single off of Brad Ziegler. Second half hero J.D. Martinez secured the win with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth against Javy Guerra.

The Rockies beat the Padres on Sunday to increase their lead over the Brewers (+2) and Cardinals (+2.5) for the second Wild Card slot. One of these three teams will visit Arizona for the Wild Card game.

The Diamondbacks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, when they lost the Division Series in five games to the Brewers.