Angels sign Juan Rincon to minor league contract

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From Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com comes word that the Angels have signed veteran reliever Juan Rincon to a minor league contract. The deal does not include an invitation to spring training, meaning Rincon will be in minor league camp with little-to-no shot of cracking the Opening Day roster.

The 33-year-old right-hander posted a 2.98 ERA and 51/19 K/BB ratio across 45 1/3 innings last season in independent ball. Once a steady setup man for the Twins, he owns a 4.03 career major-league ERA.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times recalls that Angels manager Mike Scioscia was quite critical of Rincon after the reliever tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs back in 2005. At the time, the punishment for a first-time PED offender was a quick and easy 10-game suspension.

“When Juan Rincon pitches 11 days from now, are the effects from steroids deteriorated to the point where he’ll pitch at the level of his God-given talents? No,” Scioscia told reporters in the summer of ’05. “He’ll still have the benefits of whatever steroids he was taking. I guarantee in 11 days Juan Rincon will not become a mere mortal again.”

Rincon will act as organizational relief depth this season for Anaheim. He’s likely to open the year at AAA.

Javier Baez, D.J. LeMahieu have disagreement about sign-stealing

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Fellow second basemen Javier Baez of the Cubs and D.J. LeMahieu of the Rockies got into a disagreement in the top of the third inning of Sunday’s game at Coors Field over sign-stealing.

LeMahieu reached on a fielder’s choice ground out, then advanced to second base on Charlie Blackmon‘s single. While Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story were batting, Baez was concerned that LeMahieu was relaying the Cubs’ signs to his teammates. Baez decided to stand in front of LeMahieu to block any information he might have been giving to Arenado and Story. LeMahieu got irritated and the two jawed at each other for a bit. Umpires Vic Carapazza and Greg Gibson had to intervene to tell Baez to knock it off.

There has always been a back-and-forth with alleged sign-stealing. As long as teams aren’t using technology to steal signs, it’s fair game for players to relay information to their teammates about the opposing team’s signs. Last year, MLB determined the Red Sox went against the rules and used technology — an Apple watch in this case — to steal signs from the Yankees. Other teams in the past have been accused of using binoculars from the bullpen to steal signs. In this particular case with Baez and LeMahieu, there was no foul play going on, just Baez trying to make the Rockies cede what he perceived to be their slight competitive advantage.

The Cubs went on to beat the Rockies 9-7 on Sunday.