Kevin Hickey, who has served as a “pregame instructor” — basically a non-titled coach, right? — for the Chicago White Sox for several years died yesterday. From CSNChicago.com:
Kevin Hickey, who pitched on the South Side from 1981-83 and served as a pregame instructor since 2004, died Wednesday at Rush Memorial Center. He was 56.
Hickey was unresponsive in the intensive care unit at Rush University Medical Center after being moved to Chicago from Dallas in early April. He was taken to Parkland Hospital in Dallas on April 5 after missing the White Sox workout prior to Opening Day.
His death unleashed an outpouring of emotion from all kinds of people who have or had associations with the White Sox, from ownership to Ozzie Guillen to any number of players who worked with him.
Before coaching, Hickey spent some time pitching for the Sox in the early 80s. His career path was an unusual one. He never played high school ball and was discovered by the White Sox after showing up for a tryout one day. His experience before that was playing softball.
Even if you’ve never heard of him — and I can’t say that I did before I heard of his death — he clearly had a big impact on those who did know him. There are a lot of people like that.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.