If it’s February, it must be time for Jon Heyman to stump for Johnny Damon

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My favorite all-time “Jon Heyman trying to get Johnny Damon a job” column came two years ago when Heyman noted Damon’s “matinee-idol looks and obvious love of the big stage,” and parroted previous Scott Boras comments about Damon’s love of Detroit while wondering why oh why Damon had not yet been signed by someone.

He’s got a new one out now, and it has the air of a conspiracy theory:

Johnny Damon doesn’t get it, doesn’t get why he’s not getting offers after the year he had. Damon didn’t get why he didn’t receive an offer from the incumbent Rays after he was a leader for them in the clubhouse and on the field, and now he doesn’t get why he seemingly is running second as a candidate to be the Yankees’ left-handed DH … It is hard to blame Damon for feeling left out. The whole thing does seem very odd, indeed.

Heyman goes on to note the Yankees’ seeming preference for Raul Ibanez, saying that each of the reasons why the Yankees apparently prefer Ibanez is “sillier than the next.” Judge for yourself, but they don’t sound that silly to me. Ibanez can play defense a little. Damon really can’t. I’d probably still prefer Damnon myself, but it’s not “silly” for someone to disagree on that.

But you know what is silly? That there isn’t one word in the column about what Damon’s contract demands are. Because if you want to compare Damon and Ibanez, or if you want to assess whether Damon not having any contract offers is odd or not, one might want to know whether Damon is offering his services at a reasonable rate.

I think the stuff people say about Heyman being a Scott Boras mouthpiece is over-played. Of course Boras is a source for Heyman, and if you were a reporter and had an awesome source like that you’d report what he gives you too.

But this column seems more like a sales pitch for Johnny Damon’s services than a piece of reportage.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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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.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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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.