Manny Ramirez has kept a remarkably low profile while serving the first half of his 50-game suspension, but he’s now about three weeks away from being eligible to return and about two weeks from likely beginning a minor-league rehab assignment.
Ramirez is currently working out at extended spring training and his suspension ends on May 30, with Jim Hawkins of MLB.com reporting that the A’s will soon send him on a 10-game rehab stint to prepare.
Manager Bob Melvin told Hawkins that once Ramirez is eligible to play “DH has been his role and that’s what we envision him doing.”
Six different players have started at designated hitter for the A’s through 29 games, led by Seth Smith with 14 starts, and the position has combined for a .228 batting average with three homers and a .709 OPS.
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.