UPDATE: It’s a done deal.
From MASN’s Roch Kubatko comes word that the Orioles are nearing agreement on a minor league contract with veteran first baseman Nick Johnson.
The deal will presumably include an invitation to major league spring training, where Johnson will presumably get a legitimate shot at claiming a spot on Baltimore’s Opening Day bench.
Johnson batted just .201/.326/.328 with six home runs and 13 RBI across 225 plate appearances last year in the Indians’ minor league system and hasn’t appeared in a big league game since the 2010 season. But the Orioles have one of the weakest first base situations in all of baseball and could certainly use the depth.
A former top prospect, Johnson, 33, has registered a .270/.401/.443 career batting line in the majors.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.