Bobby Valentine is already trolling Yankees fans

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If Bobby Valentine’s goal is to play the role of villain in the eyes of Yankees’ fans, he’s already off to a pretty good start.

According to the Associated Press, earlier today the Red Sox were practicing relay throws and Valentine was asked about Derek Jeter’s famous “flip” to home plate in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS against the A’s. His answer?

“We’ll never practice that,” Valentine said. “And I think (Jeter) was out of position and I think the ball gets (Giambi) out if he doesn’t touch it, personally.”

“That was amazing that he was there,” Valentine said. “Then it was more amazing to say they practiced it. I don’t believe it.”

Of course, unless Valentine is some sort of omnipotent being, he has no way of knowing how the second hop would have affected the path of the ball to home plate. Jeter’s flip at least allowed the ball to get to Jorge Posada on the fly. And as Rob Neyer recalled late this afternoon, former Yankees’ manager Buck Showalter claims that Jeter did indeed practice the flip play.

But Valentine wasn’t done ribbing the Yankees. When asked to comment on what Jason Varitek meant to the Red Sox organization, he brought up the infamous benches-clearing incident between the longtime catcher and Alex Rodriguez on July 24, 2004.

“He is a man’s man,” Valentine said of Varitek. “He was a big hitter when needed. He was a leader of the pitching staff. He was able to beat up Alex. All that stuff is good stuff. He was exactly what he was supposed to be.”

If you’ll recall, Rodriguez was plunked by Bronson Arroyo and jawed with the pitcher on the way to first base. Varitek then jumped in between them and shoved his catcher’s mitt in Rodriguez’s face. A-Rod then attempted to put Varitek in a headlock, but the pair were eventually separated as part of a scrum after benches cleared. Whether Varitek actually “beat up” Rodriguez is up for debate, but I guess it works for a quick sound bite. And it’s certainly a moment which epitomized the intensity of the intense rivalry between the clubs at that particular time.

And so, I’ll give Valentine a four out of 10 for historical accuracy. But his trolling ability is pretty spot on.

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.