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An ambidextrous pitcher is turning some heads

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There’s a story over at ESPN Chicago today about Ryan Perez, a pitching prospect who happens to pitch both right-handed and left-handed. At least one scout is saying he’s the real deal:

“He can really pitch. He’s a crafty, crafty guy. It’s not like he’s just hitting 82. I’ve seen him in a tryout camp where he was 87-88 from the left and around 91-92 from the right. That’s legit velocity. “On his sheer ability of throwing strikes and commanding the strike zone, I definitely think teams will take a look at him. I think people will definitely have interest in him.”

The last guy we heard doing this is Yankees minor leaguer Pat Venditte. At 26 and repeating AA with less-than-stellar results,*Venditte is more novelty than prospect.  Perez’s future remains to be seen, of course. My sense, though, is that if any ambidextrous pitcher ever had real promise that someone, at some point, would have told him to pitch with the better arm rather than mess around with the double-barreled approach.

UPDATE: Oops, that was sloppy. Venditte only pitched two innings at AA last year, so it’s misleading to say he’s “repeating AA.”  He isn’t doing fabulously in AA so far this year, but my initial assessment of him was off. He’s a little old to be considered a prospect, I think, but he has had some success to date.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.