Mike Cameron signs one-day “employment contract” to retire with Mariners

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After signing a minor league contract with the Nationals over the winter, Mike Cameron announced in February that he planned to retire. However, he is going out as a Mariner.

Cameron, who spent four seasons with the club, signed a one-day employment contract to officially retire with the Mariners. The announcement was made before he threw out of the ceremonial first pitch to former teammate Ichiro Suzuki in last night’s home opener against the Athletics.

Cameron was acquired by the Mariners in February of 2000 in the trade that sent Ken Griffey, Jr. to the Reds. Despite the immense pressure of replacing a franchise icon in center field, he told Josh Liebeskind of MLB.com that he always felt comfortable in Seattle.

“The days that I played here and the opportunity that I got to replace a legend, and the fact that the people kind of took hold and took shape of me and kind of walked me through everything and gave me the opportunity to really start my career off right, this is basically where I want to finish,” Cameron said.

Wildly underappreciated because of his low batting averages and high strikeout totals, Cameron was a three-time Gold Glove award winner and one-time All-Star. He is one of only 21 players who accumulated at least 250 home runs and 250 stolen bases in their career.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.