Look, kids: a real-life Kenny Powers!
According to Christian Red of the New York Daily News, former major league starter Roger Clemens has been invited to join the pitching staff of Indios de Mayaguez, a Puerto Rican winter league team that recently signed a contract with his son, 24-year-old corner infield prospect Koby Clemens.
“The Rocket” has been throwing bullpen sessions for the past couple of weeks at the Indios facilities. And while he hasn’t responded yet to the invite, the club’s GM seems optimistic that something might happen.
“He didn’t say ‘Yes,’ and he didn’t say ‘No.’ I hope he does play, because that would put people in the stands,” said Indios de Mayaguez general manger Ramon Conde.
“We have a beautiful stadium in Mayaguez by the ocean that (seats) 15,000. Clemens would put a few thousand people in the seats. The door is open.
He got his fastball up to 91, 92. I’m pretty sure he (could) get in shape in two weeks. I think he would be interested to play with his son.”
Clemens last pitched in the big leagues back in 2007, when he registered a 4.18 ERA and 68/31 K/BB ratio in 99 innings with the Yankees. The 49-year-old, due back in a D.C. court on April 17 for a hearing related to his previous perjury charge, would have to pass a physical before actually suiting up for Mayaguez.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.