A-Rod met with MLB today to talk about the poker stuff

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Alex Rodriguez met with Major League Baseball officials in Baltimore today. The topic: those tabloid/blog reports about his underground poker games and his alleged trip to Mohegan Sun.

MLB is not at all happy with A-Rod over this stuff. No word on whether part of that unhappiness has anything to do with his presence at Mohegan Sun somehow interfering with Major League Baseball’s extensive advertising relationship with Mohegan Sun. Awwwwwk-ward!

I’m willing to bet all of the canned goods on New York bodega shelves in advance of this hurricane that A-Rod gets no discipline out of this. I’d make the same bet even if they hadn’t already been looted bare.

Update: Rodriguez was quoted afterwards as saying that the two-hour meeting “went well.”

“They asked questions and I answered them,” he said. “I’ll let them review it, chew on it and then let them come back to us.”

Rodriguez also indicated that he denied much of what has been written about his participation in underground poker games.

“All the lies, you just can’t put up with that kind of stuff,” he said. “You just want facts and you always want to be treated fairly and I think I have been.”

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.