Aside from reporting to camp in “The Best Shape Of His Life” shaving your head for charity might be the biggest trend of spring training this year.
Jose Reyes did it first, live on MLB Network no less, and then Josh Johnson did it with considerably less fanfare. And now Rays manager Joe Maddon is joining the fun in the name of raising money for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation and the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at All Children’s Hospital.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Maddon will shave his head Thursday and “will encourage other players, coaches and team officials to do so as well.”
Or as Maddon put it: “It’s under the heading, fortune favors the bald.”
Third base coach Tom Foley and bench coach Dave Martinez are already on board, although presumably Martinez’s spectacular mountain-man beard will be staying put.
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.