Frank Francisco has an appointment with Dr. James Andrews

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Often when a pitcher travels to Dr. James Andrews’ office is Alabama for an examination the next news is announcement that arm surgery is needed, but in Frank Francisco’s case his visit to Dr. Andrews is for a sore right pectoral muscle.

That doesn’t mean he won’t need surgery, of course, but an MRI exam showed no structural damage over the weekend and manager John Farrell expressed optimism that the injury will prove minor, telling Gregor Chisholm of

I think more than anything this is to give us as much information as possible to give him peace of mind and just make sure there’s nothing in there. We have every reason to believe there isn’t, to date, because of the MRI we’ve received, so there’s no structural issues. But we just want to be sure we do the right thing by Frankie and get him checked out by Dr. Andrews.

Octavio Dotel is also sidelined by a hamstring injury, so if the season were starting today the Blue Jays’ closer would likely be Jon Rauch, who held his own as the Twins’ closer for much of last year.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.

Billy Beane promoted to VP, David Forst named A’s general manager

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I’m so old I remember when general managers used to run baseball operations departments. Now they’re basically assistants.

The latest example: the Oakland Athletics have promoted Billy Beane to vice president of baseball operations and have named David Forst general manager. Forst has been with the A’s for 16 years and has been Beane’s assistant for 12 years, so it’s not exactly a situation in which Forst will be making the final calls. The official move came today, though the move has been in the works for some time, it seems.

Someone with a lot of good front office access is going to write a good story this winter about the title inflation going on in Major League Baseball over the past year. And it’s gonna be great when one of his or her sources breaks the pattern of saying “well, baseball transactions are so much more complex these days . . . ” and admits “hey, if Theo gets a fancy title and La Russa gets a fancy title I WANT A FANCY TITLE TOO.”

Not that it’s much of a secret as it is.