New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox

Things got plunky in the Yankees-Red Sox game

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My musings from yesterday about the Yankees-Red Sox series getting boring still stand, though they probably need to be qualified in light of the fun little dustup in the seventh of last night’s game. No, the John Lackey plunking of Francisco Cervelli wasn’t A-Rod/Varitek or anything, but there was at least some fire there.

The scene: Cervelli hit a homer in the fifth. He doesn’t hit a lot of homers and this one was a blast. So you could understand that Cervelli was a bit enthused about it. He emphatically clapped his hands as he crossed home plate.  John Lackey and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia didn’t much care for it and the very next pitch Cervelli saw went straight into his back. Benches cleared and there was jawing, but no one fought. Probably because these two teams have a lot of old guys on them and no one wants to break a hip.

Lackey, because he doesn’t want to get suspended, says the plunking wasn’t intentional. But the chatter from him and Saltalamacchia after the game suggests otherwise. Lackey said it was “a bit much” and suggested that since Cervelli hadn’t hit a lot of home runs in his career that he doesn’t have room to celebrate.  Saltalamacchia — who is all of 26-years-old — decided to play the “kids today don’t respect nothin'” card:

“As far as the clapping goes, yeah, that could have been a little much. You don’t show anybody up … The game is changing. Younger guys are coming in. I’ve seen it. Elvis Andrus, Alcides Escobar over at short. I mean a lot of guys – the Latin players – that’s the way they play the game. And it’s OK to an extent. But if they go over that, you have to kind of step back.”

He later clarified that he wasn’t singling out Latin players and that he just didn’t speak too artfully. His real point was clear anyway: these kids today are out of control!

To which I offer a hearty “meh.”  Grow the hell up. Cervelli pumps his fist when he gets a good sandwich. He woops it up if he tosses a wadded up piece of paper into a trash can on the first try. If Cervelli gets one more home run in his career it’ll be a gift from the friggin’ gods, so let him have his little moments. It’d be different if he were offering a metaphorical “in your face,” but he wasn’t. He was merely celebrating the fact that, occasionally, he’s able to transcend his basic Francisco Cervelliness.

And like I said in the recaps this morning, if you don’t want guys like that celebrating home runs, don’t let guys like that hit home runs. It’s a skill the rest of baseball has totally mastered when it comes to Frank Cervelli, so it’s not too big a trick.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.