Arizona Diamondbacks v Cincinnati Reds

Reds stick with Edinson Volquez, demote Mike Leake

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Mike Leake will make his minor league debut within the next few days after the Reds chose to demote him, rather than Edinson Volquez, to open up a spot on the roster for Jose Arredondo on Saturday.

Leake, the eighth overall pick in 2009, became the first draftee to skip the minors and go straight to the majors since Oakland’s Ariel Prieto in 1995 when the Reds made him their fifth starter to begin 2010. He looked like a Rookie of the Year candidate initially, but he began struggling in August and he was eventually shut down due to right shoulder fatigue.

Leake was expected to make this year’s squad as a middle reliever, but he was put into the rotation as a result of the injuries to Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey. He gave the Reds four quality starts in six tries to begin the season, but since his other two outings were awful, he had a 5.77 ERA. Recently reassigned to the pen, he allowed one run in two innings over three appearances.

Volquez looked like a strong candidate for demotion after another sloppy outing Wednesday. He’s 3-1 in eight starts, but his ERA stands at 5.74 and he’s walked 33 in 42 1/3 innings. The Reds will stick with him for now, but they do plan to use Leake as a starter in the minors, making him a candidate to step back into the rotation at the end of the month.

Arredondo is returning to the majors for the first time since 2009. He was an outstanding setup man for the Angels as a rookie in 2008, going 10-2 with a 1.62 ERA, but he struggled to a 6.00 ERA the following season and then underwent Tommy John surgery. The Angels non-tendered him after the procedure, and the Reds, knowing he’d miss all of 2010, signed him, hoping it’d pay off this year. He had a 2.30 ERA and a 21/6 K/BB ratio in 15 2/3 innings during his rehab assignment.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.

Josh Hamilton leaves camp with a tweaked knee

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses during a spring training photo shoot on February 28, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.

As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.

You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.