Albert Pujols never liked the “El Hombre” nickname while he was in St. Louis, but the Angels decided to use it on their billboards promoting his arrival without asking him and Pujols isn’t happy.
Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles reports that there are 20 billboards around Southern California with the “El Hombre” nickname and Pujols’ picture (you can see a snapshot by clicking here).
Pujols explained in the past that he didn’t like the nickname because Stan Musial was “The Man” in St. Louis, and he reiterated that point to Saxon:
Like I say, I haven’t talked to them, but I prefer not to use that. I still have the same respect for him as I had, not just for what he’s done in baseball but for what he did for his country. That’s something you have to appreciate.
As someone who generally wishes there were more quality nicknames in baseball these days I’m sad that something as cool-sounding as “El Hombre” isn’t fine with Pujols, but it’s certainly reasonable and it sure seems weird that the Angels weren’t aware of the situation before posting the billboards.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.