Astros’ potential move to American League playing a role in Jim Crane’s approval status

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We’ve heard multiple theories as to why exactly Houston businessman Jim Crane has not been approved as the new owner of the Astros.

Forbes magazine called him “controversial,” he had an ugly divorce back in 2000, his businesses have been taken to court 130 times over the past 15 years. Maury Brown of The Biz of Baseball has more.

But what’s the real issue? Why hasn’t the sale gone through? And will it ever go through?

According to Mark Berman, sports director for FOX 26 in Houston, baseball commissioner Bud Selig has asked Crane to move the Astros to the American League when (or if) he is named the owner of the team. Crane has not yet committed to doing that, and his hesitance may be holding up MLB’s approval of the $680 million sale agreement that was worked out nearly four months ago with former owner Drayton McLane.

Selig is hoping to even up baseball’s leagues at 15 teams apiece so that a system that allows four Wild Card spots can be put in place. The Astros would be sent to the American League West to create a “Texas rivalry” with the Rangers, and to shake up baseball’s two uneven divisions (the NL Central currently has six teams and the AL West has four). It’s a serious money-generating move, and it could be put into place this offseason.

If Crane doesn’t get on board, Selig and baseball’s 29 current owners might continue to make things difficult.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

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.