Reds GM on Brandon Phillips extension: “I think it’s still a ways to go”

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Yesterday Brandon Phillips took to Twitter to suggest that negotiations with the Reds over a long term deal were progressing. Reds GM Walt Jocketty — while hopeful himself — walked that back a bit last night:

When reached for comment, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty didn’t believe a deal was near. “I think it’s still a ways to go,” Jocketty said. “We’re still hopeful to get something done. We’re glad he feels that way … “I don’t think we’re that close [with Phillips], no”

We’ll hear when we hear, obviously. But I find this less interesting from the perspective of where Phillips’ deal with the Reds stands than it is in terms of social media dynamics.  Brandon Phillips is a pretty savvy Twitter user. I wonder how much of his tweeting about a deal is designed to exert a bit of pressure on the front office.  It resulted in Jocketty having to answer questions last night. Fans will certainly take greater notice of the negotiation now.

While it likely won’t happen here, I could foresee a situation one day where a player — if he handles it just so — could really exert some pressure on the front office by creating an impression that a deal is closer than it really is. Subtle suggestions, say, that ownership is cheap or something. Sure, players and their agents have done that sort of thing for years via proxies in the media, but direct contact with fans seems like it could be a different, more effective thing.

The Tigers are trying to convert Anthony Gose into a pitcher

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Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.

While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.

Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:

Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.

Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals’ Opening Day starter

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Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.

Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.

Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.

The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.