Juan Castro retires, joins Dodgers front office

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After 17 seasons in the big leagues — yes, 17 seasons — Juan Castro announced his retirement Sunday and took a job as a special assistant in the Dodgers front office.

Now, granted, Castro spent a lot of those 17 seasons playing in the minors, too.  He had one at-bat in 1999, three in 2010, four in 1995 and 14 this year.  But for 17 straight seasons, Castro got a chance to put on a major league uniform at least once.

And, oddly enough, Castro played for just five teams.  He opened and finished his career with the Dodgers, spending parts of eight seasons with the team.  He also served two stints and played eight seasons with the Reds.

His best season came with Cincinnati in 2003, when he hit .253/.290/.388 with a career-high nine homers in 320 at-bats.  It was his only season over 300 at-bats.

He ends his career with a .229/.268/.327 line, 36 homers and 234 RBI in 2,627 at-bats.  That .595 OPS is the worst of any player to have at least 2,000 plate appearances since 1990:

1. Castro – .595
2. Matt Walbeck – .596
3. Rey Ordonez – .600
4. John McDonald – .601
5. Jose Lind – .604
6. Tony Pena Sr. – 607
7. Alvaro Espinoza – .608
8. Mike Benjamin – .617
9. Felix Fermin – .617
10. Cesar Izturis – .618

So, no, Castro wasn’t a very good hitter.  He was also far from a speedster, stealing just five bases in 14 lifetime attempts.  Still, 17 years is awfully impressive, and it sounds like he has a nice career ahead of him in coaching or in the front office, depending on which route he wants to go.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.