Joe Saunders is in The Best — and the sexiest — Shape of His Life

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Ladies and gentlemen, Indians team president Mark Shapiro:

No idea what you mean, Mark.

Anyway: They keep on coming, so we keep passing them along. This one: Joe Saunders of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Part of it is pretty conventional:

[Saunders] was a regular at the D-backs’ training facility at Salt River Fields, with help and encouragement from strength and conditioning coach Nate Shaw. “Not only is it a big year for me, but it is a big year for the team. I wanted to come up here and see what I could do for myself. I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in heading into a spring training”

But there’s also a hint of TMI for those interested:

The experience of being temporarily on the job market made him stronger and wiser — and maybe even a little bit sexier.

“My wife said my butt has gotten a little bit smaller,” Saunders said with a smile, the result of all the extra work he has done to prepare for this season and beyond.

Try to get that out of your mind as you watch Saunders pitch this year, sports fans.

Games start a week from Friday, people. I predict the BSOHL stuff will dry up by then. But for now, we don’t have much more to go with.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.

The Red Sox sign Jhonny Peralta

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The Red Sox have signed third baseman Jhonny Peralta to a minor-league deal. He’ll report to Pawtucket.

Peralta, 35, hit a paltry .204/.259/.204 in 58 plate appearances for the Cardinals this year. But with Pablo Sandoval on the disabled list — and ineffective when he hasn’t been — the Sox could use some infield depth.

This is the second former Tiger that former Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has picked up today, after signing Doug Fister. No word if he’s kicking the tires on Andy Dirks or Brennan Boesch.