Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles

Brian Roberts unlikely to attend fan event due to concussion, but Orioles want him to sign autographs

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Brian Roberts missed the final four months of last season due to aggravating a concussion suffered in 2010 and Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the second baseman is not expected to attend the Orioles’ “fan fest” event as he continues to struggle with post-concussion symptoms 16 months after the initial injury.

Roberts was scheduled to attend the event and the Orioles have sold tickets to get his autograph, prompting executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette to say:

I hope he goes to the autograph session. I don’t really know any reason he can’t show up to sign autographs for 10-year-old kids. I am not aware of anything that would prohibit him from doing that.

Duquette is new to the job and Roberts has been in Baltimore for the past 11 seasons, so that’s not exactly a great way for their relationship to begin. Roberts, like Justin Morneau and Jason Bay and several other players in recent years, is trying to fight his way back from a maddeningly unpredictable injury that can ruin careers, so while the physical act of signing some autographs may not seem like much of an effort the fact is that concussions can make seemingly innocuous activities a major struggle.

And whatever the case, publicly calling out the longest-tenured member of the team within your first couple months of taking the job seems like a mistake. The bigger concern, of course, is that if Roberts can’t sign autographs in mid-January what are the odds he’ll be able to play baseball games in March?

CC Sabathia wants to pitch beyond 2017

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees pitches during the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on September 18, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox won 5-4. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)
Rich Gagnon/Getty Images
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CC Sabathia‘s contract with the Yankees expires after the 2017 season but the lefty feels that he has enough left in the tank to pitch in 2018 and beyond, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports.

Sabathia said, “I just know myself. I know I feel like it’s not my time yet. Barring any crazy injuries I know I can pitch past next year. I feel like this is just the beginning of what I’m trying to do. I feel like there’s a lot more still to learn and a lot better to get. It’s exciting.”

The 36-year-old lefty currently holds a 4.02 ERA and a 144/63 K/BB ratio in 172 1/3 innings. It’s his best and healthiest season since 2012. He battled a knee injury last season and checked into rehab for alcohol addiction last October. Sabathia said that being treated for his addiction put him “in a good spot.”

Sabathia is owed $25 million through a vesting option for the 2017 season.

Red Sox lose on Mark Teixeira’s walkoff grand slam, but still clinch AL East

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28:  Dustin Pedroia #15 and pinch runner Marco Hernandez #41 of the Boston Red Sox celebrate after both scored in the eighth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 28, 2016 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
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The Red Sox can thank the Orioles for not having to fight to clinch the division on Thursday or later. The Orioles came from behind to defeat the Blue Jays 3-2 on Wednesday evening, clinching the AL East for the Red Sox.

A few minutes after that game went final, the Red Sox squandered a 3-0 lead taken in the eighth inning, culminating in a walk-off grand slam by Mark Teixeira in the bottom of the ninth inning. Closer Craig Kimbrel started the ninth, but didn’t have control over any of his pitches. He allowed a leadoff single followed by three consecutive walks to force in a run. Joe Kelly relieved Kimbrel and seemed to be close to wriggling out of the jam, getting Starlin Castro to strike out looking and Didi Gregorius to pop up. But after starting Teixeira with a first-pitch curve ball for a strike, Teixera clobbered a 99 MPH fastball, sending it over the fence in right-center to end the game.

For the Yankees, the come-from-behind victory was crucial as it staved off Wild Card elimination for one more day.

This is the first time the Red Sox have clinched the AL East since 2013, also the last year they won the World Series.