UPDATE: With the Dodgers off the table, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com was told by a source that Hiroki Kuroda is now “considering all options,” including offers from major-league teams regardless of location as well an offer to return home to pitch for the Hiroshima Carp. For what it’s worth, the expectation is that he could earn more with a major-league club than in Japan.
11:40 AM: The Dodgers signed left-hander Chris Capuano to a two-year, $10 million contract yesterday, which effectively signified as a goodbye to Hiroki Kuroda. Many believe that the veteran right-hander would rather go back to Japan than pitch for another team in the United States, but that hasn’t stopped other MLB teams from expressing interest.
Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies “have quietly pursued” Kuroda and believe they may have a decent chance of signing him based on “preliminary conversations.” However, it’s not clear whether they have had any direct talks with Kuroda’s agent.
Kuroda, who turns 37 in February, lost 16 games for a lousy Dodgers team this season, but posted a 3.07 ERA and 161/49 K/BB ratio over 202 innings. He has a 3.45 ERA since coming over to the United States in 2008, which is better than fellow National League hurlers Roy Oswalt, Yovani Gallardo, Ted Lilly and Chad Billingsley. There aren’t many quality free agent starting pitchers available this winter, so he could fetch a pretty nice contract if he elects to stick around.
The Rockies are no longer in the running for Oswalt, but also remain interested in Kevin Millwood and Jeff Francis.
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.
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.