Friend-of-HBT Nick Collias just tipped us off to a report from Puerto Rico about how Koby Clemens — son of Roger and property of the Houston Astros — has been barred from international play after abandoning his winter ball team, the Mayagüez Indians, last Wednesday.
According to the report by Karla Pacheco Alvarez at the Puerto Rican paper Primera Hora, Clemens left the team without providing any reason. This led his team to file paperwork which bans him from playing for any other winter league team, be it in Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Dominican Republic or Venezuela. Here’s team owner Daniel Aquino, translated by our friend Mr. Collias:
“The paperwork will explain that he didn’t give reasons for abandoning the team. With this document we’re meeting the rules of the Caribbean Baseball Confederation, which assert that no one who abandons a team without good reason can play in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, or Venezuela … I’d like the fans and everyone else to know that we’re not looking to sanction Clemens. Even less do we wish to do him harm. We’re only following procedure.”
There are rumors floating around that Roger Clemens told Koby to bolt the team for safety reasons following Wilson Ramos’ kidnapping, but Mr. Aquino says that’s baloney, and that the Rocket tried to persuade Koby to stay.
Kids these days.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.