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On the road to Arizona

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As much as I love the ice and cold of the great Midwest, it’s time to leave that nonsense behind for a spell.  As you read this, I am en route to Phoenix.  Spring training, my friends. Cactus-style.  I’ll be there until a week from Friday.

While I’m in Arizona I’ll be taking in baseball in some form or another at all times. Today is a travel day, but I’m going to loiter around a camp tomorrow — haven’t decided which one yet — and I’ll take in games every day between Friday when the Giants and Diamondbacks kick things off in Scottsdale through next Thursday.  In the mornings before games there will be more loitering about the practice fields and clubhouses. It’ll be a pip!

For those of you who followed my exploits in Florida last spring, it will be a lot like that.  I’m going to try to be a little more multi-media about it this year, however, so by all means, follow me on Twitter, where I’ll be throwing up real time observations, photos and stuff before I censor myself and edit them into a more respectable, reflective and comprehensive writeup for the blog the next morning.

Oh, and if you happen to be cactusing too, by all means, leave a comment or drop me a line with any tips, insights, happenings or observations of your own. Perhaps then we can find a way to leverage the power of HBT Nation into something greater than the rambling first person recollections of a recovering lawyer with an expense account, a flask, a laptop and a pocket camera. Synergy, don’t you know.

Talk to you again when I get to AZ.

Brett Lawrie will take a pay cut to avoid arbitration with White Sox

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 12: Brett Lawrie #15 of the Chicago White Sox fields a ground ball during batting practice before the start of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 12, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.

The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.

Cubs sign LHP Brian Duensing to a one-year, $2 million deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Brian Duensing #50 of the Baltimore Orioles throws a pitch in the eleventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.

The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.