Brad Lidge

Brad Lidge perfect in 2011 debut

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Working the top of the seventh with the Phillies down by a run to the Padres, Brad Lidge pitched a perfect inning Monday in his season debut.

Lidge, who went down in the spring with a sore shoulder and later dealt with elbow problems as well, threw 11 pitches, nine of them sliders.  His first fastball came in at 89 mph.  The second was a 90 mph pitch that nearly hit Jesus Guzman in the head.

Other than that, it was all sliders.  His first five were mediocre at best, but he got better from there, particularly with the two that proved to be strike two and strike three to Kyle Blanks.  His other two outs came on grounders.

All in all, it was a positive debut.  Still, the circumstances were very favorable, as the one left-handed hitter he faced, Will Venable, had three homers in 221 at-bats for the season.  Hitters no longer have to be afraid of Lidge’s fastball, and good left-handers should be able to wait him out until getting a hanging slider or a walk.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.